January 2013 The Preliminary Design of the Noordwestcluster Education Centre ( Onderwijscentrum Noordwestcluster - OWC), commissioned by the University of Utrecht, has been completed by Ector Hoogstad Architecten, together with Pieters Bouwtechniek (Structural Engineering), Valstar Simonis (MEP) and Cauberg-Huygen (Building Physics). The new educational facility, containing labs, study landscapes, classrooms and office/lounge spaces, will become the work environment of the University of Utrecht Geo- and Beta Science Faculties staff, scientists and students. The design is based on the results of multiple workshops with the prospective users to achieve an optimal response to their requirements and desires.
The new building consists of two elements: a tower with the labs on the top and self-study landscapes and common spaces underneath. This area connects to the other new section of the building; the 'loop' (promenade), connecting the new tower with the Buys Ballot building and the Minnaert building and containing uses as auditoriums, study areas and restaurants. The renovation of the Minnaert building is included in the brief as well.
Sustainability is a focal point of this design. The transparent cladding is thoughtfully equipped with exterior shading to achieve an optimal balance between daylight penetration and energy performance. Due to this and other sustainability measures like solar panels and careful material choices this lab building will eventually become eligible for BREEAM 'very good' certification.
Currently the Definitive Design is in an advanced stage. According to the schedule the construction will start in the summer of 2013. Completion is scheduled for the 1st of December 2014.