Campus renewal and sustainability ambitions go hand in hand at Erasmus University Rotterdam. The newest addition to the campus, the multifunctional educational building called Polak, is an emphatic manifestation of the university’s ambition, namely to be among the most sustainable campuses in the Netherlands. The energy-efficient building, of which both the interior and the exterior were designed by Paul de Ruiter architects, fits into the new educational strategy of Erasmus University, aimed at activating small-scale education.
The five-storey educational building with more than 600 modern study places has a flexible structure, with space for a substitution programme. During the first few years, Polak also houses temporary work places from the university library. In time, the building must provide space for the scientific community. Polak is thus responding to current educational trends and future developments.
The interior of the educational building focuses completely on the needs of different users. The entrance level offers space for retail, including a hairdresser, a launderette, safes, a campus store and a temporary lecture hall. The ground floor of the building is completed by a Canon printing service, a student shop and the employment agency Randstad.To make sure that large groups of students can move freely between the entrance and their lectures, the lecture halls are located on the first floor. Students who prefer to study independently or in small groups can find a peaceful and quiet study environment on the floors above. A long, spiral staircase wraps itself around the atrium’s floors and guides students to the upper study areas.
A natural atrium flooded with daylight connects all the floors. A unique feature is presented by the glass atrium roof that incorporates solar cells which are, if the sun shines, visible throughout the atrium asshadow patterns.
Erasmus University aspires to be among the most sustainable campuses in the Netherlands. The materials used for the interior of Polak building contribute to achieving this goal. The interior comes across as pure and warm due to the use of wood, as well as the recurring colours yellow, orange and orange-red. For example, the first-floor reading tables, 6 meters in length, have even been made from ‘urban timber’, meaning from trees felled by Rotterdam city council. Any coatings are based on natural resins only.
In addition, the Polak building has incorporated a climate control system, optimal insulation, natural ventilation and minimal technical installations. The façade is unique, with fresh air flowing in via openings in the louvres that can be opened manually. Differences in the depth of the slats help protect the glass from direct sunlight, while also providing shade. All together, these sustainability measures result in a GPR rating of 8.5. GPR is an officially recognised Dutch measuring tool used to calculate the environmental friendliness of a building.