- Building category
- Education and Culture
- AWS 102.NI, FW 50+
- Rijswijk, Netherlands
- Rietveld Architects
- C. Vosselmans NV
The distinctive design of the slanted volumes of the university building INHolland in Delft designed by Rietveld Architects, New York, resulted from extremely precise detailing. Open glass surfaces, oblique edges, and diamond-shaped surfaces give rise to a playful lightness, transparency, and flexibility. Special adaptations of the Schüco façade system made the slanted façade possible.
Founded in 2001, today INHolland University (hogeschool) has more than 33,500 students in ten locations
in the Netherlands and offers a large selection of internationally-oriented bachelor’s degrees, from a degree in International Business Management to one in Tourism & Recreation Management. When the decision was made to increase the space in Delft, New York-based Rietveld Architects received the commission to design a new building that was supposed to incorporate the departments of agriculture and aviation and nautical technology, as well as administrative spaces, and at the same time be flexible, transparent, communicative, and emblematic. In addition, the client wanted the building to have an innovative design, yet be realized quickly and on a tight budget.
Initially, the architects translated these demanding requirements into two architectural concepts. Their first suggestion was in keeping with the desired time and budget constraints, while the second design went beyond them, but breathed the university’s spirit of openness. Ultimately, the clients opted for the second solution, changing the space allocation plan but not the budget.
This coordination process culminated in a building with three intersecting volumes closely connected with the help of open utility, work, and communications areas. Today, the “tower” – the volume resting on narrow, inclined columns above the main entrance – houses the administration; the agricultural department is in the middle; and the aviation and nautical technology department is housed at the very bottom. Within this structure, a fourth volume is very important which, due to its position right at the ground floor entrance area, serves as a spacious lobby, meeting point, and event venue. From here, an escalator leads to the upper floors and the large auditorium, whose dynamic angular floor cantilevers over the lobby like a canopy – and thus unmistakably conveys that this is the heart of the university.
As only extremely careful detailing could ensure that the idea of clearly separated, yet spatially permeable volumes, could be implemented, the architects devoted special attention to the façade planning. The biggest challenge facing Rietveld Architects and the Belgian façade builder, who worked in close cooperation, was the transition between the vertical façade and the façade areas slanted 8° to the outside. Things were made even more difficult by the fact that the architects’ design provided for horizontal volumes but mullions inclined 2° to the left – which transformed all of the glass planes and façade junctions into parallelograms. Instead of using standard products, all of the profiles of the Schüco FW 50+ mullion-transom façade and the Schüco windows AWS 102 had to be specially designed and custom built. This also concerned the horizontal covers, which needed to have a frontal face width of exactly 50 mm so that they could seamlessly transition to the profiles of the vertical façade area.
Another interesting aspect lies in the screening of the façade glazing in the form of white stripes, which, like the covers, also had to have a width of exactly 50 mm. On the one hand, the stripes serve as solar shading, but on the other, they also hide the arrangement of the floors and show the illuminated rooms at night. Originally, the printing was planned for the inside of the outer glass layer. But samples revealed that the stripes would appear pale green due to the color of the solar glass. After a long search the planners finally found a glass manufacturer who was able to print the stripes on the outside of the panes and who could guarantee a precise, durable, color-coordinated result. The great efforts made to implement all of these special solutions were worth it, as the building’s unmistakable façade reflects precisely the openness and transparency that the students find within.