Laplace, the former Computer Center of Eindhoven University of Technology, is being transformed into a campus-wide Education Center, with its own space for the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). The building is of architectural, cultural and historical value to TU/e. Due to the change in function and the outdated technical and structural condition, a large-scale renovation was necessary. Characteristic elements and qualities of the building’s design have been retained or restored in a contemporary manner. The result is a layered design that honors the original architecture in both the grander gestures and the smallest details.
COMPUTER CENTER – The Computer Center was purpose-built in 1972 for the very first computers. The innovative double facade with wide air cavity on the ground floor is provided both air exchange and moisture management to the computer room. The building is characterized by a robust concrete frame construction at ground floor, with a slender floor of glass and steel above. The ground floor remains largely intact and will house lecture rooms and a meeting area. By locating a new main entrance to the south, connectivity with the main campus is enhanced.
REINTERPRETATION – The biggest transformation takes place at first floor. The existing facade will be stripped and fitted with new glazing. The original steel columns and the walls of cabinetry lining the corridor are preserved, ensuring the original structure remains legible. These cabinets serve a variety of functions, varying from storage to seating. They divide the workplaces and group spaces into clear zones, creating a peaceful environment for study. Original features of the façade, including the balconies with red tubular profiles and the slatted blinds, return in the new design, but in a new, contemporary form. This preserves the characteristic interplay between the robust substructure and slender superstructure.
PATIO STRUCTURE – The first floor originally housed the computing offices, grouped around eight open patios. The patio structure was of special quality, but was found to be incompatible with current requirements for energy consumption, comfort and layout flexibility. The patios are now covered, with the four central patios covered by one large canopy which sits higher than the main roof level. This creates a spacious, prominent space in the core of the building, which is connected with a void to the meeting area at ground floor. During an innovation process with the TU/e research group ‘Innovative Structural Design’, parallel to the design process, it will be investigated whether the roof construction can be fabricated using bio-based hemp composite. This brings the innovative character of the building into the next generation.