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Turning KdG Campus into a state-of-the-art educational facility

, 21 Nov 2017 - 10:31

With nine campuses and over 12,000 students, Karel de Grote Hogeschool (KdG) is the largest University college in Antwerp, Belgium. Here, students are offered the opportunity to develop in their chosen field and as individuals. Campus Zuid is home to 5,500 students, 500 teachers and 400 workplaces.

In 2016, KdG Campus Zuid moved into the former Parein biscuit factory in the south of Antwerp. The campus, with its two points of entry, forms an integral part of the neighbourhood. Those arriving by train or tram enter the campus from the Brusselstraat. On the city side, the lively Troonplaats offers coffee bars and student cafes.

However, in 2016 the site was deemed unsuitable for a fast-growing and diversifying university campus. Architectural firms Stramien, Antwerp, and RAU, Amsterdam, joined forces to redesign the campus. Key focus points included interaction between the building and its surroundings and enhancing the structure’s flexibility, allowing it to be used for different types of education.

Human scale
“Campus Zuid offers educational programs in welfare, education and healthcare. It acts as a reference project for the KdG”, explains Tine Durnez Architect and Partner with Stramien. “We opted to renovate its historical parts, taking care to protect their unique character. New builds provided extra space for auditoriums, a cafeteria, a sports hall and study areas. Looking at the campus from the street, you now see a fascinating mix of old and new brickwork. The new façades reference the older, industrial architecture with masonry, different color shades and elegant window frames. The large courtyard has softer, transparent contrasting design, which results in a surprisingly contemporary image. This courtyard forms the heart of the site. Students, teachers and passers-by meet each other here throughout the day.”

The designers envisaged a warm, welcoming central section. From this vision came the idea of combining glass sections with a warmer façade material. On the inner façade, panels of glass and panels of Trespa® Meteon® alternate, so that the contours of the large auditorium remain visible. Trespa® Meteon® is used in warm champagne and gold tones.

“We chose to use sheets of Trespa® Meteon® in different shades of the same color. This makes the volumes appear less massive, more on a human scale.

Only a limited number of different dimensions were used, allowing us to create the panels in advance, limiting on-site processing. Other advantages of the material include low maintenance. I can see us using Trespa again on future projects.”

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A beautiful color palette, thanks to the combination of two Trespa® Meteon® Metallics tones and the play of light that results from ever-changing angles of reflection.