ABC Faculty Building Utrecht
The University of Utrecht in the Netherlands commissioned an urban masterplan
by O.M.A. (Art Zaayer) in 1995, and has since invited several well known Dutch
architects to contribute to the University campus ‘De Uithof’. For the latest
extension the University sought a more modest building to make optimal use of
the deep site available. Facing south, but wanting the minimum of direct sunlight,
the assignment requires an intelligent and sustainable solution. The new faculty
building of the biomedical cluster (ABC) forms the corner to the existing
Academic Hospital of Utrecht. Due to the chaotic nature of the current urban
plan, the new building volume seeks to strengthen the existing entrance area of
the hospital complex. In addition it needs to retain an independent building
identity within the complex and also to form part of the University campus. On a
gross floor area of approximately 14.500 m2, the building consists of three parts:
office space, classrooms with individual workspaces (‘study landscape’) and a
restaurant. In both the office and education areas, flexible work environments are
provided where different teaching scenarios can occur such as classical lectures,
group work and individual research. Situated in the centre of the building are
three cone shaped glass voids, which allow indirect sunlight into the deep building
plan. They connect the more public areas in the building with the educaton floors
and are visible from all spaces in the building. The cones integrate the
loadbearing structure and serve as large ventilation shafts. The crystal glass
shapes thus form a technical backbone as well as the atmospherical heart of the
building. Combining a rationalised and orthogonal structure with specific shapes
and open areas, the proposal meets the client’s expectation of a modest, though
enriched environment with an inspiring identity. The University of Utrecht in the Netherlands commissioned an urban masterplanby O.M.A. (Art Zaayer) in 1995, and has since invited several well known Dutcharchitects to contribute to the University campus ‘De Uithof’. For the latestextension the University sought a more modest building to make optimal use ofthe deep site available. Facing south, but wanting the minimum of direct sunlight,the assignment requires an intelligent and sustainable solution. The new facultybuilding of the biomedical cluster (ABC) forms the corner to the existingAcademic Hospital of Utrecht. Due to the chaotic nature of the current urbanplan, the new building volume seeks to strengthen the existing entrance area ofthe hospital complex. In addition it needs to retain an independent buildingidentity within the complex and also to form part of the University campus. On agross floor area of approximately 14.500 m2, the building consists of three parts:office space, classrooms with individual workspaces (‘study landscape’) and arestaurant. In both the office and education areas, flexible work environments areprovided where different teaching scenarios can occur such as classical lectures,group work and individual research. Situated in the centre of the building arethree cone shaped glass voids, which allow indirect sunlight into the deep buildingplan. They connect the more public areas in the building with the educaton floorsand are visible from all spaces in the building. The cones integrate theloadbearing structure and serve as large ventilation shafts. The crystal glassshapes thus form a technical backbone as well as the atmospherical heart of thebuilding. Combining a rationalised and orthogonal structure with specific shapesand open areas, the proposal meets the client’s expectation of a modest, thoughenriched environment with an inspiring identity.

A special hybrid-heating concept was developed for the ABC-Education Facility in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in which the architectural layout of the building was fully utilised to develop the heating concept.

To establish a baseline temperature within the building, polyethylene pex tubing filled with water was placed 6 cm above the bottom of all the structural concrete floors. The tubes either cool or heat the floors. The temperature of the concrete floor is maintained at 22 degrees Celsius during winter and 18 degrees Celsius during summer. Additional radiators are placed in each room in order to control the individual heating demands.

Natural ventilation is used throughout the building. Outside air enters the building through the exterior skin. The air is then forced into the large open central areas within the building. The air is extracted from the building via three large glass enclosed atriums.

Special hydraulic roof lights allow for the air to be extracted from the three glass enclosed atriums. Sensors are placed at strategic locations within the building to monitor the temperature and the levels of CO2. If the air quality is insufficient, mechanical exhaust vents are activated. If the quality of the air is still below standards after the mechanical vents are activated; fresh air-supply vents are mechanically activated to supply the building with air.

If the outside air is either too hot or too cold for natural ventilation to take place, the entire heating and cooling system is changed to a mechanical ventilation system only.

During this second scenario, the air is still extracted thought the roofs of the three glass enclosed atriums.

Ductwork is used for the distribution of air throughout the building and heat exchangers are used to regain either cold or hot air depending on the heating and cooling demands within the building.

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