Erasmus Pavilion

A New Heart for the Campus

Our landmark pavilion for Rotterdam’s Erasmus University is a convenient venue for a range of activities – from attending a lecture, to having lunch, to going out for a drink. Located centrally on two main axes, it’s surrounded by a plaza fringed by faculty buildings, while various entrances placed around the facade extend a universal welcome. No wonder our building exerts a magnetic attraction on students, tutors and visitors, forming the social hub core of the whole campus.The National Steel Prize nominated Erasmus Pavilion for its exceptional functional elements.

Budget€5 200 000
Time span2010 - 2013
Size1 800 m²
LocationRotterdam, NL
TypePublic Spaces, Recognitions
Erasmus Universiteit
Partner in charge
Stefan Prins
Partner in charge
Project lead
Project team
Sybren Woudstra
Søren Harder Nielsen

The intimacy of meeting

The intimacy of meeting

We were inspired by the classic grand café – characterized by a high, light space behind the facade, modulating to a more intimate, lower and darker zone around the bar. We used a curved wooden ceiling to replicate this spatial variety and promote what we call ‘the intimacy of meeting’.

Away from these transparent public spaces for eating and drinking, we placed other functions in the core of the building. These ‘dark-space’ (that is, needing no daylight) program elements include a multipurpose auditorium, as well as spaces for study and socializing that have the cozy informality of the living room.

Where campus life converges

Site plan

Ground floor

First floor


Functional to the core

Transition to the ‘dark-space’ functions
The auditorium
Stairs and wayfinding
01 - 03

The dynamic facade means that the appearance of the building continuously changes, depending on the events inside and the weather outside.

Our love for lamellas

Our love for lamellas

We wanted to create a building that can actively change its facade – not only to adapt to the weather and the seasons, but also to create a variety of different atmospheres, depending on the events taking place there.

We found the solution in our system of dynamic lamellas. The curved lines of the lamellas sweep across the four faces of the façade. They are based on the path of the sun, and therefore different on all four sides of the building – deeper on the southern facade than on the eastern and western facades.

The lamellas allow users to choose exactly how much daylight to admit. The building can therefore be opened or closed, partially or in full, by simply adjusting the lamellas. Together with the triple-layer structural glass facade, the lamellas reduce energy consumption, too.

Technically, our lamella system was inspired by the prosaic yet progressive example of Dutch greenhouse technology.

The dynamic facade


We approached the design as an integration of program, sustainability and intimacy.

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