The architecture of Atlas combines optimal reuse with state-of-the-art materials and smart technology. The former main building of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU Eindhoven), designed by S. J. van Embden, had one of the first curtain walls in the Netherlands. The client initially assumed that the building would be completely stripped and that the plinth would hardly be altered. Yet by preserving the steel structure of the façade, reusing the intermediate floors, and restoring the spaciousness of the lower levels, the design maintains the architectural quality of the original building and allows it to be experienced anew.
THE RED CONNECTOR – The renovation has reestablished the spaciousness of the central hall—referred to by Van Embden as the cathedral. The most striking addition to this hall, defined by an imposing structure of concrete columns and slabs, is the red staircase, which zigzags all the way to the top of the building. All central facilities, such as lecture rooms and study spaces, are grouped around this staircase, which connects the two faculties located on either side of it, each at one end of the building.
HI-TECH CURTAIN WALL – On the basis of the existing steel structure, a new curtain wall has been designed to equal the insulation value of a brick cavity wall and preserve the transparency of the original façade. On cold winter nights, the building management system lets down the reflective internal solar shading so that the building acquires an extra layer of insulation. On balmy summer nights, the system opens the windows, drawing fresh air through the building. Horizontal parallel opening windows preserve the appearance of the sleek façade, even when open, while creating optimal ventilation without causing a draft. Vertical fins attached to the stanchions provide safety from falling, highlight the internal organization with double-height spaces, and add a sense of dynamism and depth to the façade.
LIVING LAB – The building has a “Smart Energy-Saving Light” system, which makes it possible to adjust the lighting conditions and to control the sunscreens and temperature of the room with a smartphone. The system was developed in collaboration with research groups at the university, who use the building as an in situ lab to study such issues as the effects of light on seasonal affective disorder. It turns Atlas into a worldwide example for sustainable renovation and innovation. Atlas received a BREEAM Outstanding certificate for sustainability, which makes it one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.