What We Consider Important

Sustainable learning environment: What challenges for the future?

Valstar Simonis has several educational projects in its portfolio. We will highlight two of them here and consider the challenges we face in the construction or renovation of educational buildings. For example, after the corona outbreak, there was much talk about the ventilation of classrooms and online education was introduced on a large scale. Has that changed the requirements for educational buildings?

Copyright: Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences & Paul de Ruiter Architects
Photo Middle Next to Facts Pdr Hogeschool Rotterdam Cafe

Rotterdam Business School

“Educational buildings are special projects to work on”, says Jacques Mol, senior advisor at Valstar Simonis. “Within every level of education there are special requirements that have consequences for the technical installations. Where primary education requires smaller, permanent classrooms, there is an increasing need at colleges and universities for working in small, alternating groups. That is why more and more group spaces and hangouts are being created in new buildings.” This is also the case at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. One of the old buildings on the Kralingse Zoom no longer met today's requirements and has been dismantled. An energy-neutral building will be built at the current location, which will form a connection with the other, older buildings.

Requirements for data networks and ventilation

Does the design respond to the possibility of continuing to provide hybrid education (combination online and physical) in the future? “That is always a point of attention,” says Jacques. “Social interaction remains important for students. We did, however, provide an excellent data and ICT network in the design, because the requirements for this are increasing from both the schools and the students.”

A very extensive ventilation system has been included in the design, Jacques says. “The requirements for ventilation were already quite high”, he explains that choice. “Because of corona, everyone has only become more aware of it.” The Hogeschool has opted for a hybrid ventilation system. In the summer, the roof of the atrium can be opened. “For example, we combine good, natural ventilation with, if necessary, mechanical systems. Incidentally, the atrium roof consists of solar windows that generate electricity. This is necessary to be able to meet the requirements of energy neutrality. In addition, we are installing solar panels on the rest of the roof and in the facade on the south side.”

What We Consider Important
ITC University of Twente, Architect Civic, VDNDP, interior architect: studio Groen+Schild

ITC University of Twente

Rick Hiddema, consultant and location director Groningen, is involved in a great renovation project on the campus of the University of Twente. For the ITC (the Faculty of Geo-Information Sciences and Earth Observation), an existing building is stripped down to the shell. Rienk explains: “The building from the XNUMXs first served as a laboratory and therefore has a rather specific shape. The ground floor functioned as a technical room and is quite low. The first floor was for the lab itself and quite high.” He explains that a special structure has therefore been devised. Where normally the technical installations are concealed in the ceiling, a raised floor has now been chosen, in which there is room for the technical installations for both the ground floor and the first floor.

Smart building

Rienk also indicates that ventilation in educational buildings was already a point of attention before the corona era. “After all, you have a decent occupancy of people in such a building, so good ventilation is important. Our credo at the ITC is: natural ventilation where possible and mechanical ventilation where necessary.” This approach fits in well with the sustainability ambitions of the University of Twente. The desire to realize a smart building is also inspired by these ambitions. “We will soon be able to extract a lot of data from the building and help users with some awareness. For example, we will set the lighting a little lower than the usual 500 lux; users will only increase that themselves if it is really necessary.”

Rienk explains that the building meets the BENG requirements (Nearly Energy Neutral Building) without this being legally required and that a WELL screening has been done. “We did not aim for the formal WELL certificate, but we did look at what measures and provisions we could take. Sometimes the benefit is in simple adjustments: such as enough water taps to fill your bottle. Together with the client, we always look critically at what is and what is not interesting for this project.”

This article previously appeared in Valstar Vision, no. 13. Read the entire Valstar Vision here.



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