Academic journal

Powerhouse Company completes the first solid timber university building in the Netherlands

The energy-neutral building of Tilburg University sits on a 33 x 33 m footprint and houses 14 classrooms, self-study spaces and a foyer.

Set in a striking wooded landscape, the shape of the lecture hall echoes existing modernist structures on campus.

Primarily a cross-laminated timber structure, the lecture hall is a pioneer of Dutch university architecture, being the first of its kind. The wooden ribbed floors span 9m and the dry construction system uses 4.6km of removable wooden beams for future reuse.

Hanging the limestone facade panels, rather than gluing them, makes it possible to recycle the stone.

The design of the amphitheater is inspired by the first structure on campus – the Cobbenhagen building by Jos Bedaux in 1962 – now a monument, and draws inspiration from monastic architecture, reflecting the Catholic roots of the university.

This monumental simplicity was adapted by Powerhouse Company through the rhythmic placement of the windows, the limestone facade and the close relationship between the interior spaces and the surrounding woods.

As with the Cobbenhagen building, inside, fixtures and furniture are an integral part of the design. A natural palette of wood, stone and plaster is used throughout.

Next to the exposed framework, simple wooden tables, benches and cruciform reading lamps have been designed to give a feeling of serenity and calm. Large windows bring natural light into the space while capturing carefully chosen views.

The four sides of the simple cubic building connect via pathways, views and sight lines to different parts of the site. The different details and the distribution of the windows reflect its orientation.

In 2020, AJ traveled to Tilburg in the Netherlands to review the city library by Civic Architects. Read the article here.

View of the architects

Together with our client, we raised our ambition during the design process, resulting in a carbon neutral, fully circular and BREEAM Outstanding design.
Janneke van der Velden, Associate Architect, Powerhouse Company

Our details seem simple and obvious, but inventing the technical junctions in collaboration with different disciplines was a challenge. This uncharted road has been inspiring and has taught us a lot.
Romano van den Dool, BIM engineer, Powerhouse Company

The lecture hall is a timeless and enduring addition to the architecture of the Tilburg University campus. It breathes the atmosphere of the library and the monastery, in line with the original modernist buildings.
Stefan Prins, Associate Architect, Powerhouse Company

As part of a master plan, designed to restore the original character of the campus, our building reinforces the appreciation of the existing architecture on the site.
Antónia Pohanková, former architect, Powerhouse Company

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site 2019
Completion 2022
Customer Tilburg University
Architect central company
Cut 5000m2
Building cost undisclosed
Landscape architect EDM Tuin en Landschap
Urban planning Studio Hartzema
Installation Advisor Royal Haskoning DHV
Building Physics Advisor Royal Haskoning DHV
Service provider Koninklijke BAM Group
Construction BREED integrated design
Geotechnical Advisor Inpijn Blokpoel
Sustainability Advisor Rienks Bouwmanagement
Mobility advisor Royal Haskoning DHV
Financial Advisor Multibouwadvies