News - 13 July 2022

A campus building like no other: UNStudio completes Echo, the new energy-generating interfaculty building at TU Delft

UNStudio’s recently completed campus building for the leading Dutch university sets to reshape traditional learning environments with a highly flexible, energy-generating building that meets TU Delft’s need for extra teaching space – now and in the future.

Echo is an energy-generating interfaculty building that offers a wide variety of teaching rooms to cater for the diversity of teaching methods and study styles at the university. As the most sustainable building at the TU Delft, Echo is contributing to the university’s ambitions to operate a fully sustainably campus by 2030.

UNStudio’s design, in collaboration with Arup and BBN, supports an active campus in every sense of the word. With a keen focus on the contemporary culture of “Everything Anywhere,” in-between meetings and collaborations are supported and physical movement is stimulated.

Such activity is also reflected – and embraced – in the building’s connection to the surrounding space. Here, transparency is key. It not only ensures maximum daylight inside the building (known to have health benefits for the users, but also reducing the need for artificial lighting), it also creates a visual connection to the wider campus and to surrounding nature.

As such, the traditional, closed-in academic building transforms into a campus-defining, uplifting and welcoming environment for faculty and students alike. The adjacent square continues through the transparent ground floor of the building and connects with the street on the other side, turning the ground floor of Echo into a covered public square and a public connector that makes the invisible world of learning a visible and engaging experience.

“Unlike traditional campuses that operate in silos, the future campus needs to be programmed with agile spaces that invite students and faculty to learn, collaborate and co-create,” says UNStudio founder and principal architect, Ben van Berkel. “As student numbers continue to grow, educational buildings need to be extremely flexible, to operate through a model based on shared interfaculty use that can promote a more generalist education.”  

The building’s 8,844 m2 accommodates a variety of classrooms and study spaces for lectures and tutorials, group work, project-based teaching, debates and self-study for around 1,700 students - all of which have been designed based on the current and future needs of all users.

A modular wall system has also been used in the office spaces on the second floor, allowing for future changes to the layout. Should there be demand for functional change in the future, these office spaces can be turned into didactic spaces with minimum interruption.

Preparing for the future also informs UNStudio’s sustainable approach to Echo. 1200 solar panels, smart installations, good insulation and a heat and cold storage system ensure that the building will be able to provide more energy than it requires for its daily operations. This includes user-related energy, such as electricity consumption for laptops, lighting and catering.

Continuing on its circular approach, UNStudio took care to ensure that materials can be reused following dismantling, including the steel trusses and hollow-core slabs.

“The Echo building teaches by example. In this highly compact building, the use of space is maximised, while bringing students from different disciplines in closer contact,” van Berkel explains. “Not only can they condense their learning experience and learn from each other, but they can also learn from the building itself.”

Read the full press release here.
Explore the project here.