‘From an outdated entrance to an innovative, multi-functional learning environment’

‘From an outdated entrance to an innovative, multi-functional learning environment’

Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Rachelsmolen campus

The entrance of the Fontys Rachelsmolen Campus in Eindhoven has been transformed into a multi-functional learning environment. The Rachelsmolen Campus is the first to house the innovative HUBB furniture concept, which was developed by Gispen and Mecanoo. The new area is the result of a successful and close partnership between Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Mecanoo architects and Gispen.

The client’s thoughts

What we are seeing in education today is an increasing need for areas where students can work on projects. We went for an open, multi-functional area with many different seating options and a number of closed rooms in the outer ring. The new learning environment has since been embraced by all its users. It has a magnetic effect on people. I worked closely together with Gispen on this project, just like I did on previous projects. And once again, I was completely satisfied with the result. We had a tight schedule and the delivery and construction was a massive job. Gispen has proven itself an extremely flexible partner.

‘Our new learning environment really has a magnetic effect on people’

Maarten Sars Project Supervisor Accommodation and Facility Management, Fontys University of Applied Sciences

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Multi-functional area

The economics faculties are housed in the so-called R4 building of the Fontys Rachelsmolen Campus. The original entrance used to connect the R4 and R3 building together. When the main entrance of R3 was moved during a major renovation, it left a large area of unused space at the ground floor of R4. An area with no appeal, but it had potential. The students of both R3 and R4 needed an area where they could study or work on their projects. Fontys wanted to redesign the area into a dynamic and multi-functional learning environment with an atmosphere and attraction to match. They called upon the services of Mecanoo architects for the design.  

Mecanoo and Gispen joining forces

The renowned Mecanoo architectural firm was also responsible for the major renovation of building R3 and the design of the new Fontys Sports College. Arne Lijbers, Mecanoo architect: ‘We have been seeing an increasing number of activities taking place at schools but also in other places such as public buildings and offices. And that is what we want to facilitate, including the physical (learning) environment.’ Jeroen Verweij, business manager Education at Gispen: ‘It is Fontys that got Gispen and Mecanoo together. They thought: you two might hit it off and do great things together. And so we did! We are truly kindred spirits in our vison of the learning environment of the future. We could now make this shared vision a reality in designing the R4 building of the Rachelsmolen Campus.'


A first: HUBB in practice

Studying individually, project-based learning, meeting one another, relaxing or going over a few things together – it is now all possible within one open space. This is maily due to HUBB, a sustainable and modular furniture series developed by Gispen and Mecanoo. Specially designed for education, but also applicable to work- or healthcare environments. The HUBB furniture series offers a great many configurations, allowing you to create different zones in one room. From a zone for socialising, to a zone for working together and a zone for concentration. The one zone might be very open, the other more private or even fully closed off with an acoustic canopy. Simply find the zone that suits your activity best. There is plenty of choice.

The architect’s thoughts

'We were asked by Fontys to design a multi-functional study plaza. We subdivided the area into zones per activity and context with an equal number of open, semi-open and private areas. It was also important that there was still a connection between the two buildings, with the existing campus and the CvB floor on top. This is the perfect example of a project where the HUBB modular furniture series is used in so many different ways. We integrated the fixed furniture with the separate furniture in close consultation with Gispen. Together we can reach great heights and create realistic solutions.'

‘Gispen and Mecanoo share a driving ambition and come up with realistic solutions’

Arne Lijbers Architect at Mecanoo architects

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Different pieces of furniture, one design

The new learning environment has been provided with various HUBB setups in combination with different pieces of furniture. Gispen designed special tables with an extraordinary shape that can be linked together. The white standing tables are also a thing of beauty, at which you stop by to quickly look something up on your laptop, for instance. You can also grab a bar stool and pull up to the table. Besides a number of project tables, there are also a number of closed rooms to be found near the edge of the open space of R4. This is where we placed chairs from the Triennial series – a family of chairs that share an eye-catching seat consisting of two upholstered parts. We also used these when we worked on the R3 project previously. This is how we connected the two buildings together and created a unity of colours and materials. 


Enthusiastic students 

Jeroen Verweij from Gispen: ‘Fontys introduced us to Mecanoo, we therefore figured it was only right to grant them the first application of HUBB in practice. Maarten Sars from Fontys: ‘Our new learning environment now offers more than double the seats, which is all due to the new layout and the application of HUBB. We can house about 200 students in an area of 400 square metres, to be more precise. The students are excited about the HUBB furniture series. They like the privacy, the lighting, the integrated power supply and being able to fully concentrate on their work. This also shows in how the area is being used. The students tend to set up at the HUBB units first, after which they occupy the more open spaces. Our students really feel at home in our new environment.’ 


Would you like to learn more about HUBB or the learning environment of the future?

Check: roomtolearn.nl


Photography: Chris van Koeverden and Mecanoo Architects 


Products included in this project