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An almost sixty year-old historic hall of the TU Eindhoven has been transformed into the new heart of the university. At the same time, a new building has been placed on top of the hall; the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. This striking combination of reuse, transformation and newbuild was designed by the Rotterdam firm Ector Hoogstad Architecten.
The so-called W-hal was built in 1958 as a “flexible, indoor hectare for machinery and experiments”. Architect Joost Ector, who himself graduated from Eindhoven in 1996, transformed the building into the heart of the TU Eindhoven with this idea in mind. Among other things, the MetaForum provides room for the new central library, a large number of study areas and lounges, catering facilities, shops and student information desks. The southern section has been transformed into a covered events area.
Footbridges on the first floors connect the MetaForum with the surrounding buildings. Spectacular sight lines at the different levels emphasise the function of the complex as a central meeting place. Students who enter via the bridges descend to the library and the other central facilities on the ground floor and in the basement. Or they take the panoramic staircase or lift up to the new Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science premises (16,000 m2).
The faculty seems to ‘float’ above the hall like a massive metal block. This is due to the extremely subtle supporting framework that consists of just twenty slender steel columns. The newly constructed cellar below the MetaForum compensates partially for the weight of the new faculty building and also accommodates all the technical installations. The equipment for controlling the climate in the complex is built into the floor of the first storey. In this way, it was possible to keep the historic roof free from equipment and restore it to its former glory.
For the restoration of the existing, non-insulated facade of the W-hal, a new method was developed, by means of which the original steel ‘chair profiles’ were transformed into a well insulated curtain wall in a low-maintenance and reversible way, without any change to the outward appearance. According to specialists, there is a good chance that this method will become the standard solution for this type of restoration project.