Extending and redeveloping De Waaier, a complex of lecture theatres at the University of Twente, was a commission in three parts. First, extending the restaurant and kitchen. Second, joining together and extending the existing lecture theatres to create a 1000-seat facility. And finally, altering the podium and attendant spaces for degree ceremonies.
The new volume extends the existing volume but is also independent. Separating them are two long incisions and two small voids topped by rooflights that draw light deep into the heart of the building, providing orientation and spaciousness. The new facade is composed of a refined structure of open and closed slats of exposed concrete that ensure uninterrupted views while keeping out sunlight and heat.
The modern materials deployed outdoors – white plaster, exposed concrete and glass – reappear indoors, combining with the white furniture to create a calm atmosphere. This restrained character alternates with eye-catching lounge islands, where brightly coloured sofas and armchairs in soft felt and high-gloss plastic create a domestic feel.
The most spectacular intervention is the joining together of the two lecture theatres to create one big hall. The loadbearing concrete wall between the two fan-shaped theatres was removed and replaced by a sliding wall that can be stored away behind the podium. The small hall has changed function and is now used for degree ceremonies. A braille pattern is applied on both the glass and the black acoustic panels. The text is intended as inspiration for aspiring doctoral students: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” (Albert Einstein)