Public Building
2010 – 2013
Erasmus Pavilion

Adjustable architecture

The Erasmus Pavilion is the central meeting point on the new campus of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. It's a place to have lunch, attend a lecture, study with a group or enjoy a graduation drink.

The basic idea, therefore, was to design a space where people like to meet. For us, that starts with a really good cup of coffee. So we took inspiration from the grand café, a basic feature of which is to have a high, light space combined with lower, intimate spaces around the bar. The curved wooden ceiling complemented the variety of spatial qualities and helped to promote what we call ‘the intimacy of meeting’.

Erasmus Pavilion

As well as including these varied spatial experiences, we designed our building to react to, and be in harmony with, daylight and the seasons. On warm summer evenings, the building is open, transparent and connected to its context. On a cold, rainy winter day, the building is a closed and inviting refuge, a place to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.

To achieve this adjustability, we designed a façade composed of dynamic lamellas that can open and close, letting in varying amounts of light. We supplemented this with different types of lighting to amplify the effect. We designed the pavillion together with De Zwarte Hond.

Het programma is gebaseerd op de orientatie op de zon

Vloervelden worden vervormd om aansluiting te zoeken met omliggende maaiveld

Vloervelden worden verfijnd voor de functie

Theaterzaal centraal op kern

Plafond creeert ruimtes met verschillende intimiteiten

Er ontstaat een verhalende routing binnen het paviljoen

De verschillende functies hebben verschillende kleurtinten

We approached the design as an integration of program, sustainability and intimacy. This resulted in a dynamic building that adapts itself to the seasons and the light of the day.

A new campus heart

The Erasmus Campus has undergone a transformation from an undefined public space into an open and vibrant one. The double-layer parking garage topped by a central plaza gives the campus a central axis; the route from the public transport facilities creates a second axis.

The pavilion functions as the heart of the campus. It is the central meeting point, positioned on the two main axes and surrounded by the faculty buildings. Students, teachers and visitors can view and approach it from all directions. For this reason, we designed various entrances in the most prominent places along the façade – reinforcing the welcoming role of the campus heart.

Erasmus Pavilion - Maps

Façade flexibility

We approached the design with the idea of creating a building that can actively change its façade – not only to adapt to the weather and the cycle of seasons, but also to allow an adjustable level of intimacy inside, depending on the events taking place there.

Through opening or closing the dynamic lamellas, users can determine how much daylight comes in. Together with the triple-layer structural glass façade, this leads to a reduction in energy consumption and also allows the level of openness of the building to be adjusted at will.

The curved lines of the lamellas that sweep across the four faces of the façade are based on the path of the sun.

They moderate the amount of natural light and heat according to the sun’s orientation. The dynamic façade means that the appearance of the building continuously changes depending on the events inside and the weather outside. It is therefore animated by the vibrant rhythm of the student centre’s life, which it makes visible to the surrounding public spaces.

Light and lamellas

The façade and lighting can be used in various ways to create many different effects and atmospheres. The tailor-made aluminium lamellas can be opened from 0 degrees (fully closed) to 120 degrees (sun shining in).

The curved wooden ceiling can be lit by uplighters, and so accentuated, and paired with either open or closed lamellas. Lighting the red wall of the theatre box behind the wooden ceiling, causes the pavilion ceiling to glow like a lantern.

Positioning all ‘dark-space’ programmes (those requiring an absence of daylight) in the building’s heart preserves its transparency. The logistical core is positioned here, with a multipurpose auditorium that offers space for lectures, performances and debates. This distribution of functions creates a considerable flexibility of use, which was essential for this project.

Tailor-made efficiency

Because of the uniquely curved lines of the façade design, we had to customize the lamellas. This meant creating unique extrusion profiles in aluminium from which we could not only shape the ‘basic’ lamella, but also the special water-cut pieces that follow the curves of the façade.

Erasmus Pavilion - Slide

1 Axle
2 Powered endcap
3 Axle locking
4 Support block
5 Slat bar
6 Lamella extrusion profile 1
7 Lamella extrusion profile 2
8 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 1
9 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 2
10 Angle cutting behalf overlap bent steel curve
11 Cut plate according facade curve
12 Coupled axle with small lamellae

Erasmus Pavilion - Slide

1 Axle
2 Powered endcap
3 Axle locking
4 Support block
5 Slat bar
6 Lamella extrusion profile 1
7 Lamella extrusion profile 2
8 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 1
9 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 2
10 Angle cutting behalf overlap bent steel curve
11 Cut plate according facade curve
12 Coupled axle with small lamellae

Erasmus Pavilion - Slide

1 Axle
2 Powered endcap
3 Axle locking
4 Support block
5 Slat bar
6 Lamella extrusion profile 1
7 Lamella extrusion profile 2
8 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 1
9 Cutting extrusion profile to slot 2
10 Angle cutting behalf overlap bent steel curve
11 Cut plate according facade curve
12 Coupled axle with small lamellae

Tolerances had to be tiny, and to avoid gaps and keep the lamellas tightly tailored to the façade, we moved the electric motor to the edge of the roof (from the usual placing between glass and lamellas).

Low-consumption landmark

To lower the energy consumption of the building, we took various technical measures. A compact building volume, the positioning of the mass in the centre core and the careful orientation of the programme towards the sun combine with an active façade, triple-glazing, solar panels on the roof, natural ventilation, and flexible zoning to make this transparent building a true low-consumption landmark.

The wooden ceiling presented its own challenges. Because the curves are different (with no 45 degree angles), the corner detailing was very tricky. By designing every single wooden plank individually in 3D, we helped the contractor to successfully achieve precise detailing on site.

Erasmus Pavilion

These one-of-a-kind interventions have resulted in an iconic building which is also energy efficient. It has become the vibrant heart of the new Erasmus Campus, creating an inspiring new place for the net generation of students. Seen from outside, the pavilion has an enigmatic, shifting character, its dynamism signalling its interior programme like a beacon.

  • Time span 2010 – 2013
  • Type Public Building
  • Status Completed (Competiton – First prize)
  • Client Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Location Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Size 1800 m²
  • Budget € 5.200.000
  • Partner in charge Nanne de Ru
  • Collaboration De Zwarte Hond
  • Team Nanne de Ru, Willem Hein Schenk (dZH), Stefan Prins, Sander Apperlo, Sybren Woudstra, Anja Lübke (dZH), Anne Larsen, Sijmen de Goede (dZH), Søren Harder Nielsen
  • Structural Engineering Pieters Bouwtechniek
  • Installation Engineering moBius Consult
  • Contractor Lokhorst Bouw
  • Contractor Interior Punt Interieurbouw
  • Supervisor Masterplan Campus Juurlink+Geluk in collaboration with Sputnik
  • Imagery Christian van der Kooy, Ronald Tilleman, Rene de Wit
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