The International Institue for Geo-Information Sciences (ITC) is an extraordinary faculty at the university of Twente. From all around the world, (PhD) students come to Enschede to research how to make their countries more sustainable. ITC therefore, is not only a place to work and study, but also a place of home, a meeting place and a sustainable icon.

The new ITC will inhabit the existing ‘Langezijds’ lab-building. With its dimensions (220x38m), low concrete ground floor and high steel second floor, Langezijds has a distinct character. We preserve the entire structure and propose one crucial intervention; we create 4 green atria that ensure daylight and natural fresh air. With an elevated ‘plenum’ on top of the second floor that transports fresh air and integrates all the pipework, we keep the remarkable ‘bims’-ceiling free of installations and prevent further reduction of the limited floor height on the ground floor.

Campus ‘Drienerlo’ is powerful because of the contrast between buildings and green. With ITC we go one step further: we interweave architecture and landscape. By shifting one of the atria to the façade, we create a recognizable address for ITC. We fold the landscape inwards; trees continue to grow in the interior. The four atria of 12 by 24 meters stimulate natural ventilation and form a biotope for flora and fauna. The landscape big and bulbous; the atria are large enough to sustain a small ecosystem.

The scientific departments are organised around the atria. Education, research, offices, labs and study places are mixed. Downstairs, the smaller (concentration) spaces are located, upstairs the spaces are bigger and more dynamic. Through open study landscapes, the atria connect with the façade so fresh air can circulate. Around the entrance zone, the more public functions are placed; a large staircase/presentation space, the restaurant, and the library.

The architecture stands on the shoulders of the existing. The raw concrete and steel structure remain visible. Beams and columns stick through the façade and connect in- and exterior or subsist in the new atria like modernistic ruins. We use them to connect new stairs, plants grow over them. New elements conform to the architectural logic of ‘sticks and beams’. The materials are rough, the details refined and sharp. With wood in the interior and the plinth of the façade we add a warm tone to the material pallet. The design of the new steel façade is based on a subtle rhythm of protruding mullions with hidden openable façade elements. On the southern façade, we use these mullions to mount the existing concrete solar shading. ITC demonstrates how sustainable transformation can result in radical architecture.

  • Name: ITC Faculty university of Twente
  • Location: Enschede
  • Program: Education, research and office space, laboratories, restaurant
  • Size: 13.500 m²
  • Commission: Full comission (SO, VO, DO, BE, WE)
  • Period: 2019 - ongoing
  • Client: University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)
  • Team: Rick ten Doeschate, Jan Lebbink, Gert Kwekkeboom, Ingrid van der Heijden, Fernanda Romeu, Natalia Drożdżowska, Mihalis Fountedakis
  • Partners: VDNDP, Studio Groen+Schild, DS landschapsarchitecten, ARUP, Valstar Simonis, Schreuders Bouwtechniek, Multical
  • Images: CIVIC Architects, Bloomimages