Building O University of Antwerp Wilrijk

New building project with 8 auditoriums and 8,300 m² of laboratories

META and TRACTEBEL in association with Storimans Wijffels architects just have completed their commission from the University of Antwerp to build an auditorium and research building at the heart of the Drie Eiken campus in Wilrijk. Accessed through 2 spacious entrances, Building O contains 8 auditoriums, 2 microscopy rooms, 1 bio-space and 1 laboratory and also provides space for a reprographic service and 216 bicycles.

Building O is a bright and compact volume that, on the one hand, is intended to be an eye-catcher on the campus. On the other hand, it was also required to leave the smallest possible spatial stamp on the site. The balance between affirmation and integration, and the unifying role of Building O, resulted in a universal building with a double entrance section that is mirrored diagonally, thus assigning equal importance to the access points on both sides.

By positioning the ground-floor facade inwards to a depth of 1 module it was possible to create a covered interior circuit. The floating volume is enveloped in golden perforated aluminium plates that function as fixed blinds for the auditoriums, microscopy and laboratory rooms. These allow a soft filtered light to permeate the building while also permitting views outside.

Art was integrated into the project through the work of Perry Roberts (UK). A photograph of students and teachers was punched into the golden aluminium facade panels. A reference to traditional class photographs, the image was rasterized into dots with 5 different diameters. The production of multiple panels, each of which is unique, was simplified through the use of the CNC-technique. When viewed close-up, the image appears to be abstract, but becomes readable at a greater remove.