The new education and training building is an extension of the existing Arenberg Campus at Celestijnenlaan in Heverlee. The University of Leuven (KU Leuven) aims to realise a functional building providing a pleasant environment for students to study, relax and work. The jury valued POLO’s design because of its logical plan and its clear and transparent structure.
POLO designed a striking building with an obvious structure leaving space for a flexible interior design. The integration of a ‘backbone’ in combination with occasional widenings in the hallway creates informal meeting spaces. The project includes an auditorium with a capacity of 600 people, seminar rooms, collaboration rooms, practical training rooms, a dean’s office and a cafeteria with meeting facilities.
"The front section’s inviting character and magnetism make visitors feel welcome. The cafeteria has an excellent location and its vast volume under the raised auditorium immediately draws attention. The south-facing terrace will draw crowds on sunny days. The building’s open character on ground level is much appreciated." - from the jury report
The building positions itself at an oblique angle to the existing campus building. The resulting meeting square between the buildings is a pleasant stopping place for students and professors with a south-east orientation. This outdoor space brings life to the campus and provides opportunities for student activities. Boundaries between inside and outside fade away.
In terms of sustainability, the design focuses not only on the implementation of sustainable technologies, but also on the integration of sustainability principles such as compactness, flexibility, orientation, choice of material, facade details, integration of greenery, etc. The compact main building has a generic plan that leaves room for flexible interpretation. The south-facing circulation area with additional functions acts as a thermal buffer for the lecture rooms and practical training rooms located on the north side.