Tilburg University Lecture Hall/

Power House Company


Project Details



Tilburg / Netherlands



Year (Design/Construction):

2019 / -

Area (Net/Gross):

- / 5000 m2
Operational Carbon emissions

Operational Carbon emissions (B6) kgCO2e/m2/y:

Embodied Carbon emissions

Embodied Carbon emissions (A1-A3) kgCO2e/m2:

  • The Project is an energy-neutral building that will be built in a completely circular way by a dry construction system with elements that can be demountable for future use.
  • Its dry construction system is made of cross-laminated timber structure and hanging limestone facade panel

Project description as provided by the Architects:

A circular cube

Powerhouse Company has completed its design for the Netherlands’ first mass timber university building. The new energy-neutral building for Tilburg University sits on a small footprint of 33 x 33 meters, and contains 14 lecture rooms, selfstudy areas and a foyer. Set within a wooded landscape, the lecture hall’s timeless form echoes the existing Modernist structures on the campus.

‘Together with our client, we upped our ambition during the design process resulting in a carbon neutral, completely circular, and BREEAM Outstanding design.’

– Janneke van der Velden, Associate Architect at Powerhouse Company

Triumph in Timber 

With its predominantly cross-laminated timber structure, the lecture hall is a fully circular pioneer in academic architecture. Tackling significant design challenges, the wooden rib floors span a groundbreaking 9 meters, while meeting the complex demands required by an educational building. The dry construction system employs 4.6 kilometers of timber beams that are demountable for future reuse. Additionally, hanging the limestone façade panels, rather than gluing them, allows the stone to be recycled too.

‘Our details look simple and self-evident, but pioneering the technical junctions in collaboration with different disciplines was a challenge. This untrodden road was inspiring and taught us a lot.’

– Romano van den Dool, BIM Engineer at Powerhouse Company

A New Cube in a Modernist Family

The new lecture hall’s design is inspired by the first structure on the campus: Jos. Bedaux’s 1962 Cobbenhagen building, now a listed monument. Bedaux reflected the university’s Catholic roots with a design that gives a Modernist twist to monastic architecture. Powerhouse Company’s design adapts Bedaux’s monumental simplicity with a limestone facade, rhythmic window placement and a close relationship between the interior spaces and the surrounding nature. The result is a building that, with its mellow stone facade and rootedness in the woodland setting, appears as though it has always been there.

‘The lecture hall is a timeless and sustainable addition to the campus architecture of Tilburg University. It breathes the atmosphere of the library and the monastery, in line with the original Modernist buildings.’

– Stefan Prins, Partner Architect at Powerhouse Company

A Contemplative Calm

Inside, as with the Cobbenhagen building, the fixtures and furniture are intrinsic parts of the design. A natural palette is used throughout – wood, stone, and plaster – from the lofty sculptural space of the lecture hall, to intimate window niches. Besides the exposed structural timber, simple wooden tables, benches, and cruciform reading lamps exude a sense of serenity and calm. Expansive windows allow natural light to flood the space while playfully capturing a range of views, some unexpected – the sky, a single tree, or people walking to the campus.

‘As part of a masterplan, designed to restore the original character of the campus, our building heightens the appreciation of the existing architecture on the site.’

– Antónia Pohanková, former Architect at Powerhouse Company

Four Faces for a Campus Hub

We looked at the various characteristics of the site surrounding our building – forest, parkland, accommodation, and the main route to the train station serving the campus – and designed four facades responding to these different features. All four sides of the building connect via footpaths, views and sightlines to different parts of the site: Each side has different detailing and window distribution reflecting its orientation.

Leading Partner: Stefan Prins

Project leader: Janneke van der Velden

Project team: Iván Guerrero Jimenez, Antónia Pohanková, Romano van den Dool, Martijn Ravia, Michiel Bosch, Sanja Kralj,  Robert Cuijpers, Bjørn Andreassen, Erwin van Strien, Gert Ververs, Rafael Zarza García, Giovanni Andrea Coni, Jugoslav Stankin.

Landscape architect: EDM Tuin en Landschap

Stedenbouw: Studio Hartzema

Installation’s advisor: Royal Haskoning DHV

Building physics advisor: Royal Haskoning DHV

Contractor: Koninklijke BAM Groep

Constructor: BREED Integrated Design

Geotechnical advisor: Inpijn Blokpoel

Sustainability advisor: Rienks Bouwmanagement

Mobility advisor:  Royal Haskoning DHV

Financial advisor: Multibouwadvies

Model:  Studio Abstract, Powerhouse Company

Photography:  Frans Parthesius (model)

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