University building design is changing significantly to support research, innovative teaching methods and foster interdisciplinary knowledge exchange. Forward looking design needs to create buildings of consequence which encourage networking, mentoring and communal thinking, allowing post-graduate research to run parallel to and integrate with undergraduate learning. These centres become power-houses for the transition from research to business, supporting large scale multinationals and fledgling or micro business Two new projects, Maynooth University in Ireland by PERSPECTIVE Dublin, and Corda Campus in Hasselt Belgium by PERSPECTIVE Antwerp exemplify this new approach:
The new 8,000m² Eolas Building at Maynooth University provides state of the art Information Communication Technology (ICT)facilities for undergraduate, post-graduate and research users as well as a Business Incubation Centre for start-up businesses. The building is a major strategic investment by the University as part of an ambitious masterplan for growth and development. “As a hub for the fields of information and communication technology,” Professor Philip Nolan, University President, said at the opening, “Eolas will break down the boundaries that too often exist between academia and enterprise – and between students and the world of work.” The design integrates elements of the ‘Activity Based Workplace’ model, now part of innovative office layout designs and work practices common in ICT offices, banks and big multi-nationals who, like Maynooth University, see the benefits to be gained from collaborative working practices and efficiency in space occupancy and use.
Approximately 15 years ago, PERSPECTIVE Antwerp won a design competition to develop a masterplan for the old factory site of the electronics company Philips into a research park. The former production site has been transformed into an open and accessible pedestrian park, in which the research buildings form an integral part of the landscape. Hikers, cyclists and residents have free access to the campus. The dynamic form of the Corda 1 building is expressive of the innovation and development within the building. It’s integration into the landscape invites engagement by park users, reducing perceived barriers between academic research, business innovation and the community. The first building Corda 1 is complete, both Corda 2 and 3 will commence shortly. The new buildings will feature the same sloping green roof extending the park’s perspective. Combined, these three buildings will define the new landscape as viewed from the park. The volumetric and homogeneous façade cladding will reinforce this image. The buildings provide flexible rental space from as small as 25m² up to 10,000m².