Thomas Heatherwick just completed construction on a cluster of 12 tornado-shaped towers for Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The teaching facility, dubbed the Learning Hub, is Heatherwick's first major project in Asia, and its design attempts to redefine educational architecture.
The 12 towers are organized around an atrium area and include balconies, open-air corridors and gardens as informal learning spaces. The open design of the building encourages students and the faculty to interact and exchange ideas. The towers can accommodate 56 oval classrooms. The use of circular shapes was intentional. The absence of corners is non-hierarchical and encourages collaborative learning.
The atrium is dominated by balconies which get larger towards the top of the building. This central space allows for natural ventilation and create a more immediate connection to the outside. Curved concrete panels envelop the building and feature irregular horizontal stripes that give an organic appearance to the building. The texture of the outer layers is further enriched. Surfaces between the main stairs and elevator have been embossed with 700 drawings created by illustrator Sara Fanelli. These drawings depict different imagery from science, art and literature.
Images via Hufton + Crow