A. Substaniating Structuralism

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Leiden University currently owns a large property on the outer canal of the historic inner-city of Leiden. The campus was built in one time period by five architects. Architect Joop van Stigt designed the Humanities Faculty of the Arts building on the Wittesingel campus and currently the space no longer satisfies the needs of the users. However the buildings are of monument status due to the fact that it is a good example of a very specific architectural movement, Structuralism. The aim of the project therefore investigates how to transform the building for future needs while reflecting back the ideas and atmosphere of the structuralism era.

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Cascading form of the original composition is preserved with higher volumes in the middle of the site and stepped lower volumes to the edges. On both clusters there are outdoor courtyards which are covered with a new roof to transform the space into a internal atrium which can be of more use throughout the year. On the south cluster a minimal intervention takes place to close the courtyard. On the north cluster the load bearing capacity is fully utilised since the original structure was over dimensioned to accommodate for future expansion

Elevation South Cluster

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Elevation North Cluster

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Section South Cluster

Section South Cluster

Section North Cluster

Section North Cluster

Atrium perspective view - North Cluster

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There are multiple layers to a building: SITE, SKIN, STRUCTURE, SURFACE, SERVICES, STUFF and lastly SPIRIT. What cannot change or be adapted are the SITE, STRUCTURE and SPIRIT. So all changes should take place in the layers which are not fixed. eg the SKIN or the SURFACE. Which scenario would best preserve the SPIRIT of structuralism? The test between transforming the SURFACE or the SKIN of the buildings could take place on the site because there are two clusters which flank either side of the central library. The advantage of the dual opposite intervention where a change to the external appearance or the internal experience means that the North and South cluster are now substantially different which will improve the wayfinding on the campus.

Atrium perspective view

Installations and Sustainability

Additional greenery to reduce the urban heat island effect, a more energy effective heating and cooling system, solar radiation studies, Heat exchange system for mechanical ventilation throughout the building, and finally a new layer of insulation to reduce heat losses through the fa├žade.

Final presentation model


Materials Old

Exposed aggregate concrete, concrete blocks, Redwood timber structure stairs and ceiling panels and blue linoleum floors.

Materials New

Gound floor polished concrete screed, facade Muschkalk natural stone tiles, zinc panel roof covering and rusty red aluminium glazing mullions.


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