Powerhouse Company unveils "egg in a box" student pavilion

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"Egg in a box" student pavilion unveiled at Erasmus University

Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond teamed up to complete this new student centre for Erasmus University in Rotterdam, which features a transparent exterior and a curving oak interior (+ movie).

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Ronald Tilleman

Described by the Dutch studios as having an "egg-in-a-box arrangement", the 1,800-square-metre student pavilion is intended to become the new social heart of the university campus, located to the east of the city centre.

One of the main aims of the project was to create a bright and welcoming space for staff and students, so Powerhouse Company and De Zwarte Hond designed the building to be as open as possible – with the most public activities concentrated around the perimeter.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Ronald Tilleman

This idea resulted in a building with two layers. Cafe and study areas sit directly behind the transparent facade, while storage areas and service spaces are located behind a curving wall of timber, which also encloses a 200-seat events space.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Ronald Tilleman

The foyer is positioned on the south facade, where it fronts a public plaza. A study area sits beside the north-east wall to limit glare on computer screens, while the cafe runs along the western edge to benefit from evening sun.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Rene de Wit

"This 'egg in a box' arrangement preserves the transparency of the exterior through its floor-to-ceiling glazing," said the architects, who won a competition to design the building in 2010.

"It allows the pavilion to better connect with its surroundings as well as to encourage passersby to flow in from all elevations."

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Rene de Wit

The building is just two storeys high, which the architects hope will offer "a welcome break among the tall Brutalist buildings of the university's suburban campus".

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Rene de Wit

The stepped landscape of the site allowed both levels to meet the ground, and the curving steps of an adjacent pathway continue inside the building, forming the main internal staircase.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Ronald Tilleman

The curving red-oak wall creates a semi-barrel-vaulted ceiling above the various social spaces. The kitchen, toilets and technical spaces are hidden away behind it, organised around a central corridor.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photo by Christian van der Kooy

"This lath structure makes an eye-catching feature and softens the materiality of the internal spaces," said Powerhouse Company, whose current projects include a triangular railway station and a 100-metre-tall broadcast and observation tower.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photo by Christian van der Kooy

The multi-purpose events space occupies the entire first floor, and can be used as a lecture theatre, an auditorium or as a film screening room.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photo by Christian van der Kooy

Mechanical louvres form a large semi-circle on the four facades and can be adjusted to act as a sunscreen, relative to the sun's position in the sky.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph by Christian van der Kooy

Large hatches in the roof open automatically to allow air to circulate, while a ground-sourced heat pump keeps the building warm in winter.

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Photograph is by Rene de Wit

The Erasmus University student pavilion forms part of a wider masterplan for the campus by Danish landscape firm Juurlink + Geluk and Studio Sputnik. Other new additions will include a canteen, and underground car park and new landscaping.


Project credits:

Partners in charge: Nanne de Ru, Willem Hein Schenk
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 engineer: Pieters Bouwtechniek
Installation advisor: moBius Consult
Contractor: Lokhorst Bouw
Interior contractor: Punt Interieurbouw
Masterplan campus: Juurlink+Geluk in collaboration with Studio Sputnik

Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Site plan – click for larger image
Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
First floor plan – click for larger image
Erasmus Pavilion by Powerhouse Company
Section – click for larger image