HU University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Playing with Color and Connectivity

Until four years ago, the HU University of Applied Sciences, a school founded in 1995 through the merger of several previously independent institutions, was spread across some 30 buildings in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The university prioritized consolidating its footprint into five adjacent buildings on its Utrecht Science Park campus, and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects’ new structure is the last of the five to be completed. The Heidelberglaan 15 building is home to eight educational institutes in the economics, management, information communication and technology, and media and communication sectors.

The compact, eight-floor building blurs physical boundaries while cutting a striking figure with bold, graphic lines.

The HU University of Applied Sciences was a spatial design challenge with more than 5,800 students, faculty and visitors moving through the 3,000-square-metre footprint of the building daily.

The use of color is demonstrated on the exterior façade that features neutrally-colored anodized aluminum cladding, with one color dissolving into the next to create a gentle patchwork effect.
The various colors that fade into each other represent the interwoven design of the interior layout that allows users of the school’s eight institutes to intersect within the building.

The white, off-white and timber color scheme of the university’s interior is accented with a pop of chartreuse that lines the three escalators that transverse the atrium. The exterior and interior are linked by the moiré pattern of the aluminum cladding that can be found not only on the exterior façade, but also on the internal staircases.

In order to create a social gathering place and bring natural daylight deep into the heart of the building, we placed meeting and study rooms around the atrium so that it came to function as a vertical city hall that connects to the city square of the ground floor.
The space is then tied together with large, iconic escalators and the movement of people between floors becomes part of the experience of the space.
The perforation on the staircases play a role in the acoustics of the space, and beneath them are sound absorption materials that dampen the noise made by the thousands of people that use the building daily.