Just before I completed this project, I came upon an article about Aldo van Eyck’s work and in particular about his transformation of residual space into public space. This analysis afforded me a deeper understanding of space appropriation, the meaning of architecture and the idea of non-determination of architectural spaces.
As we can notice on the above graphs, more than 40% of the ground surface is dedicated to car space, even though vehicles have limited access and the campus is meant to be pedestrian-friendly. There are 1048 parking spaces and only 300 of them are underground.
So the first question that popped in my head was: why is all this surface still dedicated to car space when it is not even the main means of transport on campus (only 1/5 of it, as seen from the graphs)?
The Solbosh campus never really followed one main urbanization plan. It was created bit by bit, lacking the unity that any functional and practical space should have.
The extensions can be defined in 3 phases:
1. The first project was created between the two world, located on a huge and empty plain outside of the city. The result was a low density building surrounded by open field.
2. The « student boom » of 1953 to 1970 overcrowded the university and forced it to quickly find a solution, which resulted in the construction of « temporary » prefabricated buildings (still in use today). The buildings were designed to be more dense and higher. A lot of extensions have been added to the existing buildings.
3. The new student politic of 1992 granted a large subsidy to the university. The university used this grant to construct a lot of new buildings filling up the university grounds, as well as buying surrounding houses (mostly terraced houses). The sport field is transformed in a parking lot.
The campus was built gradually, as explained in the history tab, so it never had a master plan for ease access and use friendliness. It is a total maze for newcomers!
The main access is Paul Heger Road that divides the campus in two where all the secondary accesses are connected to it in an absolutely nonsensical way. The most important secondary access points are through buildings between different floors and and an unwieldy amount of doors… that close at night and on the weekend.
As shown by these 3 sections, we notice that the the campus isn’t level: there are 2 horizontal plateaus split in between by the Paul Heger road that still has its natural slope, meaning students cannot directly cross – they have to go through a building, climb stairs, to arrive on the desired side. This complicates the ease of access between them.
The parking lot has been replaced by a green space. Little units of polycarbonate boxes can be found all over the park. The PC boxes will, as result of their translucent material, will allow daylight into the building during daytime and make the buildings visible at night. The resulting effect will light up the park.
The new artery
A perpendicular axis has been designed to level the campus ground with Paul Héger. This artery runs pass the existing buildings while respecting their structure. All the new and old entities are made accessible through the axis.
A 5m high covered pedestrian plaza is thus created at the intersection at the two axis.
A cultural center
La Salle Delvaux is an old cinema on campus with a small bar. The extension of la Salle Delvaux will become the university’s new cultural center with different sections based on different arts. There will be a plastic art section (6 studios and one exhibition hall), a visual art section (5 auditoriums/projection room + Salle Delvaux), a musical section (a rehearsal room, a recording studio and a new radio studio for the campus radio station). All these rooms will be located around an outdoor atrium that can be used for concerts or exhibitions, with a complimentary bar and coffee shop.
A 900 m² library will be built as an extension to « la Salle Allende » that will look over the swimming pool and the new artery. There will be multi-functional rooms, study rooms, a conference hall and a restaurant. The library will be divided into 10 different units, with each of them having their own atmosphere.
A new sports hall will be created (next to the old one) with a fitness room, multi-functional room, locker rooms and an Olympic swimming pool (15 m x 50 m).