Eindhoven University of Technology’s former Computer Centre, ‘Neuron’, has been transformed into a campus-wide Education Centre including a dedicated space for the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute (EAISI). The building is of architectural, cultural and historical value to TU/e. Due to the building’s change in function and dated technical and structural condition, a large-scale renovation was necessary. Characteristic design elements have been retained or restored in a contemporary manner, resulting in a layered design that honours the original architecture in both the grander gestures and the smallest details.
Purpose-built in 1972 by architect Jacques Choisy (od205), the Computer Centre was once a specialised facility for the very first computers. A robust concrete frame construction with a slender layer of glass and steel above, characterises the building. The innovative double façade with air cavity at street level provides both air exchange and moisture management to the computer room. The ground floor remains largely intact and contains lecture rooms and a meeting area. Connectivity with the main campus is enhanced by creating a new main entrance to the south.
The biggest transformation takes place on the first floor, where the existing facade is stripped and fitted with new glazing. The original steel columns and walls of cabinetry lining the corridor are preserved, ensuring the original structure remains legible. These cabinets serve a variety of functions, from storage to seating. They divide the workplaces and group spaces into functional zones, such as peaceful study environments. Original features of the façade, including the balconies with red tubular profiles and slatted blinds, return in the new design in a more contemporary manner. This preserves the characteristic interplay between the robust substructure and slender superstructure.
The first floor originally housed innovative computing stations grouped around eight open patios, which by modern standards fell short on requirements for energy efficiency, comfort and layout flexibility. To remedy this, the patios have been covered, reusing the original steel roof construction of the center of the building. Four central patios are capped by one large timber canopy sitting above the main roof level, which is connected by a void to the meeting area at ground floor below. This creates a prominent sense of space in the core of the building. Inside the void, a nine-meter-high hand-woven cube by designer Hella Jongerius has been installed . ‘Loom Room’ is an artistic response to the modernist character of the building and fits into a long TU/e tradition of architecturally embedding works of art around the campus.