We're proud to announce that MindLabs in Tilburg will officially open for operations on Wednesday afternoon (september 27th) in a ceremony attended by Mayor Theo Wetering and other stakeholders. The event marks the culmination of Ector Hoogstad Architects transformation of a beautiful old 'railway cathedral' in the city's transport zone into MindLabs, a knowledge exchange centre for digital technology. The result, realized on behalf of the Municipality of Tilburg and Fontys University, is a model of what can be achieved when heritage, design and sustainability are united in service of a vision, in this instance, a future-oriented building with character.
MindLabs places three educational institutions, government officials, established businesses and start-ups under one roof, thus facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas and greater collaboration in the development of “human-centred AI” geared towards robotics, avatars, virtual reality, natural language processing and serious gaming.
The centre’s main partners each have dedicated space within the building, but are visually and functionally connected to everyone else by shared facilities and communal areas devoted to interaction, such as the lively hub at the heart of the building. The hub, courtesy of Hall 70, with its extraordinary steel structure and original brick walls, rivals the imposing former locomotive hall next door for timeless appeal. If there’s one space that defines the character of MindLabs, it is this open-plan hall, where people are free to work, relax or grab something to eat, and which can be easily adapted to host events, exhibitions and informal get-togethers. Meanwhile, the southern end of the hall now forms a canopy that effectively creates a multipurpose all-weather courtyard.
A staircase in the middle of the hall — designed to double as a “speaker’s balcony” — leads via an actual debating chamber to a double-height first floor whose perimeter wall is lined with workstations. This perimeter arrangement is mirrored on the ground floor of Hall 70 in the form of shared facilities such as laboratories, broadcast studios, conference rooms, a media library and a restaurant, all of which face the voluminous open-plan heart of the building, which flows without interruption into LocHal next door.
To the east of Hall 70 lies a new five-story building with lecture rooms and offices. Each floor boasts double-height ceilings and lends itself to partitioning for a variety of uses. Staircases and fluid borders between spaces on the lower floors facilitate visual contact between this area and the main hall. The new wing also boasts preserved sections of the original weathered brick walls, thereby ensuring its visual coherence with the historical character of the rail transport zone.
In short, MindLabs effectively combines heritage, architecture and sustainability into a future forward building with character!
More information here.