Student Housing, Leuven
HUB, Bureau Bouwtechniek, ABT, RCR
Our proposal for the construction of the Vesalius student residence in Leuven represents a fusion of divergent ambitions and characteristics, chief among them that of creating a generous living environment.
The student residence constitutes a transition zone and stepping stone from Dekenstraat to a new residential environment located in the inner confines of an urban block. It is by virtue of this special location – between an old rear and a new front façade – that the student residence can and should make a contribution to the further development of the residential environment.
Inside the building itself, the programme requirements and the available budget do not allow for any grand architectural gestures. The large degree of programmatic and typological repetition combined with intensive use nonetheless call for a certain level of generosity. Our design seeks to achieve this through small details. Such as in places where the overall pattern is broken and room is left for meeting spaces and a freer interpretation of everyday life.
Our proposal is characterised by three core elements:
The creation of maximum flexibility in design, construction and use.
The foundation of the design lies in its smallest common denominator – the student room – which is rendered decisive for the entire design. We have rigorously translated this premise to the positioning of vertical circulation points, the support structure and utilities.
The creation of a sustainable building.
In addition to the above-mentioned flexibility – which has a significant ‘hidden’ impact on the build’s sustainability – our design is also characterised by full accessibility; significant attention for thermal, acoustic and visual comfort; energy performance and air-tightness; and the use of materials as a function of durability, suitability and maintenance. Via a holistic approach, we have attempted to reconcile these aspects within a clear architectural vision that is equally full of character.
The creation of a timeless design.
This character resides in the way in which all the above-mentioned ambitions have been brought together within a self-evident and well finished whole. Our goal, in that sense, has been to rise above the preoccupations of the day as well as present-day conceptions of beauty and create a building that will improve with age. We hope, in so doing, to position the student residence firmly within the context of KU Leuven’s other assets in Dekenstraat and Andreas Vesaliusstraat. These buildings are characterised by a modest yet attentive choice of materials, a repetitive and well-conceived façade texture and an ornamentality founded on an architectural and constructive logic. Without falling into the domain of the pastiche, our design strives to enter into a “content-based” dialogue with its neighbours.