The WaterLab is a place where both researchers of the University of Twente and external parties conduct research on water through differently set up experiments. As well it is a place that visually wants to showcase its activities to the rest of the campus. Therefore, the main challenge was to design not only a well-functioning laboratory for research, but also a building that visually communicates its research activities to its surroundings.
The WaterLab is situated on Hogekampplein, a 2x2m grid square recently renovated by LOLA Landscape Architects. The laboratory blends in with the square by taking over the 2x2m grid structure, but also stands out as it is situated along the main sightline and pedestrian route, giving the WaterLab maximum visibility.
The WaterLab is shaped like a showcase that is carefully embedded in her surroundings. As the showcase hosts functional activities inside, in consulation with the users, advisors and supervisor of the University Twente, the concept of a ‘functional showcase’ has been developed further.
The concept of the ‘functional showcase’ is translated to a compact volume with a hybrid façade consisting out of window frames and structural elements. In adherence with the Hogekampplein the WaterLab has a wooden construction on the inside and aluminum window frames on the outside. This is based on the philosophy; low-tech construction, high-tech facade. Through large glass surfaces maximum attention is given to the scientific setups and the work of the researchers inside. The WaterLab has a green roof to enrichen the flora and fauna, as well as to enhance the room view from a nearby hotel on the WaterLab.
The layout of the WaterLab is carefully crafted around her users and their activities, as a result it accommodates a wide variety of test setups and enables pleasant working conditions in the laboratory. Everything that happens inside is directly and visually communicated to the surroundings of the Waterlab.