The new college building (S block) on the Limburg Catholic University College campus in Diepenbeek is located alongside the central car park, where the Stiemerbeek brook cuts through the campus. The campus needs more structuralising signs. The location of the new building makes a modest contribution to this goal.
The building was designed as an elongated shape on four levels. As a result of clever allocation, this volume defines ‘interspaces’ with an interesting occupational quality. It also indicates how this area of the campus can be developed further in the future.
The parking zone in front of the building has a direct relation with the opened-up reception. From the reception, a wide staircase divides the building into two halves, thus forming the backbone of the design. The staircase extends the entrance area upwards and branches into an open space on every floor. Sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right of the staircase. These areas – so-called study landscapes – look out across the surrounding land and allow daylight to enter in abundance.
The width of the staircase allows it to be used as a seating element and meeting place. Thus, the staircase is not merely a functional connective element between the floors, but an integrated part of the study landscape. It also provides an overview of the entire building. The building constitutes a system of space and movement.
The building derives a clear shape from the structure with hollow- core concrete floors and a minimum of columns. A strict grid allows a flexible lay-out. The lightweight separating walls enable rooms to be partitioned or enlarged. The facade is also based on these dimensions. Depending on their orientation, facades are more open or more closed by keeping elements transparent or opaque. Vanes mounted perpendicular to the window jambs act as passive sunblinds. They also create a dynamic facade pattern.
This building, which was accomplished within a strict budget, has a clear lay-out both inside and out. And in spite of its stern formal idiom, there is a dynamic spatial experience that semantically embeds this encounter and exchange. This is a distinct learning environment.
Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg