The campus of the future will undoubtedly incorporate sustainable design, and Erasmus University in Rotterdam wants to pave the way by leading through example. The Amsterdam-based firm Paul de Ruiter Architects recently completed the Polak Building, a new solar-powered addition to the university. The light-filled building minimizes its energy footprint and represents the latest effort of Erasmus University in their journey to become one of the most sustainable campuses in the Netherlands.
The Polak is a five-story multifunctional building that offers an impressive range of services, from study rooms to retail, including a hairdresser, launderette, and campus store. The building is structured around a central atrium that floods the interior with natural light on every floor. The atrium’s glass roof is integrated with solar cells that harvest energy while allowing sunlight to pass through. Glazing and solar shading fins wrap the building to maximize natural lighting and protect against direct sunlight and glare.
The building is kept comfortable year-round thanks to a climate control system, effective insulation, and natural ventilation. Timber is the dominant element in the interior materials palette and is naturally finished to give the atrium a cozy and welcoming vibe. The first floor’s 6-meter-long reading tables were made from locally felled “urban timber” and coated with natural resins. White-painted surfaces are balanced by warm pops of color, including yellow, orange, and orange-red.
“Our vision is: natural where possible and mechanical where necessary,” write the architects. “With a sustainable climate control system and optimal insulation, we ensured that the university building is energy-efficient. By carefully making use of the flow of air, we have created natural ventilation for the entire building. This even applies to the daylight, making artificial lighting redundant. We also incorporated numerous sustainable technologies, including aquifer thermal energy storage in the ground and energy recycling.”
Images via Paul de Ruiter Architects