An Educational Center:

Educational centres are a crucial concept. Creating spaces ideal for students and educators, creating an ambience fit for studying, and providing amenities specially designed for seamless learning are some challenges for architects while designing. Amongst these centres, educational centres for a particular subject or field are much more complex. Architects must conduct thorough research and analysis to design these subjective educational centres. Let’s dive deeper into an educational centre designed by KAAN Architects in Rotterdam, the Educational Center for Erasmus University Medical Center.

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Aerial view of the education centre_© KAAN Architecten

Pre-Design:

KAAN Architects were challenged to refurbish and redevelop a courtyard and a small building for the Erasmus University Medical Center. Previously designed by Arie Hagoort and Jean Prouve in the 1960s, the spaces lacked proper daylight and routing. KAAN Architects commenced designing with the idea of primarily fixing these loopholes. KAAN Architects proposed an education centre in the courtyard. This courtyard lies in the centre of various medical facilities. By proposing an education centre, KAAN Architects assured that the space utilisation can be maximised. Users from different medical backgrounds can come together in this central space to interact, learn, and educate. The Education Center would also function as a space for connecting different medical institutes.

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Cafeteria of the education centre_© KAAN Architecten

Planning:

KAAN Architects divided the education centre into three levels. The top level would serve as the main level for connectivity and overlook the lower levels. The lower levels would primarily function as a learning centre. The ground level acts as an education square. This square consists of multiple study islands surrounded by seminar rooms, lecture rooms, a thesis defence room, and other standard amenities. The central education square is a column-free space with natural light from the roof. Spiral staircases and footbridges are used to connect with the upper levels. A highlight of the education square is the 35-meter-long and 4-storey-high bookcase.

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Typical layout of the education centre_© KAAN Architecten

Conceptualisation:

After organising and planning as per the requirements of a medical education centre, KAAN architects added a personal touch to the design. The skylight illuminating the entire education square used the concept of undulating surfaces and openings. This would mildly diffuse the sunlight and cancel direct heat entering the structure. KAAN Architects used triangular cut-outs on the entire roof, and a similar concept was incorporated into the interiors. Initially, the adjacent building uses a diagonal framing grid to carry longer column-free spans. KAAN architects used a similar diagonal framing concept to form kite-shaped sections. These kite-shaped sections were divided into four undulating sections with triangular cut-outs, following a similar pattern throughout the roof.

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Conceptualisation of the education square courtyard_© KAAN Architecten

Medical institutions and hospitals are always chaotic and full of urgency. KAAN Architects opted for an all-white interior scheme for a calm and serene ambience. They used red colour to highlight spaces. The structure looks spacious and visually calming from the inside. The second level has a massive spillover space segregated by a double-height zig-zag glass façade. KAAN Architecten has primarily focused on the functionality aspect of the structure. They managed to add more elements without disturbing the original form and spaces. This allowed them to design meaningful spaces.

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Use of white colour scheme with a combination of red_© KAAN Architecten

Designing for specific users is an interesting practice for architects. Architects are required to study the profession and working styles of the user to carve customized spaces. In a special case, like designing hospitals or education centres for medical facilities, it becomes very important to study user convenience. These professions are theory-based and require adequate book storage. Architects need to be thoughtful as they must design public spaces keeping a specific sector of users in mind. Architects need to integrate spaces for modern medical equipment, machines, and technology. KAAN Architects, led by Kees Kaan is a highly experienced firm based in the Netherlands. The fact that the project work commenced in 2005 and was completed in 2013, shows how much research and analysis has been put into its execution.

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35 meter long and 4 storeys tall book storage wall_© KAAN Architecten

KAAN Architects did a commendable job in maintaining the original forms of the structure. They picked up the diagonal grid of the existing structure and blended it with their modern concept. The Erasmus Medical Education Center follows a minimal design. Small additions and customisations have made a huge impact on the design. It is always difficult to innovate with the form that follows functionality, but KAAN Architects has managed to execute it efficiently. However, the entire space seems robust. Rotterdam faces cold and dry climate all year round with the maximum temperature not exceeding 20 degrees Celsius. The introduction of planters and green walls would have been icing on the cake. It would also help to create a more peaceful environment as green areas prove to be a soothing element in education facilities. A wise distribution of green areas in this enormous 34,000 sq. mt of space seems to be missing, given the provision of ample natural lighting. Overall, KAAN Architects has managed to create a great educational centre that maximises the utility of a huge unused area.

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Common seating area at the education centre_© KAAN Architecten

References:

  • Education Centre, Erasmus MC: https://kaanarchitecten.com/project/education-center-erasmus-mc/
  • Educational Center Erasmus University Medical Center / KAAN Architecten: https://www.archdaily.com/447440/educational-center-erasmus-university-medical-center-claus-en-kaan-architecten
  • Education Centres and their design ideologies: https://www.dezeen.com/architecture/education/
  • Rotterdam Average weather: https://en.climate-data.org/europe/the-netherlands/south-holland/rotterdam-910/

 

Author

Rushabh is an Architect based in Mumbai. After getting a job experience of 3 years, he has established his own practice under the name, RAW Studios. He also runs an instagram page regarding the ongoing trends, changes and issues in Architecture. Rushabh, with the help of his profession, believes that he can make the world a better place for the user.