Fontys ICT Innovation Lab (TQ building)
Vocational education in the midst of manufacturing businesses at Strijp-T in Eindhoven. Fontys University of Applied Sciences has opened a new Innovation Lab in this location. Comprising two floors, with a total of no less than 2,000 square metres, where students, teachers and businesses work on innovations together and share their knowledge with one another. The requirements of the interior design and furnishing posed quite a challenge: everything had to be dismountable and moveable. Fontys, Gispen and Bossche Studios took up this challenge together.
New educational concept
The ICT programme of Fontys had outgrown its capacity at the campus in Eindhoven. When extra space was needed for 300 students, Fontys decided to lease two floors of the TQ building at Strijp-T. Like Strijp-S, this old Philips site is being completely redeveloped. Maarten Sars, Project Manager Housing and Facilities at Fontys: ‘It was a great opportunity for us to design a new educational concept at this location, surrounded by industrial heritage. Being close to the fire is a great plus, especially for an ICT course, with all its innovations. Our third- and fourth-year ICT students are now in the centre of where all business activities are conducted in the building. And they even get to collaborate with various companies. In our new learning environment, we have allocated space for so-called 'Partners in Innovation'; businesses that can rent a space with us.'
The client’s thoughts
‘A sustainable, reusable and 100% mobile interior, which can be realised in to time at all. This was the design and furnishing objective of our new learning environment, serving as the primary goal for Bossche Studios and Gispen. This is when it comes down to having complete confidence in each other, and both partners have proven themselves in this respect. As with other projects, Gispen has once again shared its expertise in the process of reusing furniture – another important aspect for us.'
Easy to disassemble and rebuild
The owner of the building had one condition for Fontys when they moved in: they had to relocate to another space within the building after a year. The building is still under development. Floors, ceilings, inner walls, window frames, the furniture – everything needed to be easy to disassemble or unscrew and be able to be assembled again elsewhere. Client Maarten Sars: 'We really challenged each other in order to realise this goal.'
Interior designer Claartje ten Have, who took on the project together with colleague Misha Breuer of Bossche Studios: 'The industrial building itself is beautiful, we wanted to keep as much of it visible as possible. We made sure that everything was mobile, with loose carpet tiles, cable-suspended dropped ceilings, separate boxes as meeting rooms, et cetera.’ Maarten Houdijk, Gispen account manager: 'The furniture is modular, easy to disassemble and rebuild. This includes the CIMO desk collection, the tailormade counters supplied by interior designer Sant, the lockers and the whiteboards that serve as dividing screens in between consultation areas.' A special detail: the scaffolding pipes to which these boards are attached are not fixed but are clamped between the floors and ceilings.
A new take on the school environment
When walking around the two floors, you wouldn’t think you are in a school. There are no classrooms or lecture halls; everything is built to accommodate project-based learning. The new learning environment is open-plan and offers various possibilities for collaboration and consultation. Each floor has an open reception area in the front, where large groups of students can receive instructions or attend a presentation within their study field. This is followed by a Lab in the centre of the same open space, intended for group work or receiving short instructions. There are several 'boxes' behind the Lab, which are closed but transparent spaces used as a meeting space, silent work area and archiving space. In the outer zones of both floors, several open meeting areas with train seats have been created.
Interior designer Claartje ten Have: 'We deliberately kept the outer zones more quiet. This is where students slump back with their things, coats and bags. We applied more colour to the centre zones; the boxes were covered with aqua-blue felt, for example. The backs of the whiteboards have also been covered with felt. Together with the dropped ceilings and floor tiles, this contributes to the acoustics of the area. This is important in an open and industrial building such as this one.
The architect’s thoughts
‘Fontys had already tried out the concept of an OIL – an open ICT Lab – in other locations. However, these were fixed layouts. The fact that everything had to be mobile was extra challenging for us. Together with Gispen, we created a basic atmosphere that suits ICT students. With shades of blue and green and wood for some warmth. We have worked with Gispen for Fontys before, and we are always on the same page.’
Reuse from stock
Fontys has its own storage with furniture that is still sound but not in use for certain periods of time. Maarten Sars: 'I see it as a common goal to encourage one another to reuse what we already have, keeping our vision of sustainability alive. Gispen came up with the idea to find out which items from storage could be revitalised, in addition to supplying new furniture and refurbishing existing furniture.’ Maarten Houdijk: 'In the end, we reupholstered sixty old Fontys office chairs and fully checked their functions. We also reused furniture from other locations. 80% of the new furniture we supplied complies with the Design Framework that Gispen developed in collaboration with TNO, fully in line with the concept of circular design.' The newly supplied furniture includes the circular and modular CIMO desks that can easily be converted from a single to a dual workstation – or vice versa. It also includes mobile and height-adjustable Nomi and Triennial chairs, as well as mobile Scrum tables, for both seated and standing meetings.
Are you satisfied with the result?
Client Maarten Sars: “The highest compliment came from my own client, the ICT institute: 'Before the holidays there was only a bare floor. Upon return, there was a whole new world before us. We can simply unfold our laptops and get straight to work.’ What I’m also happy about is the fact that I’ve received zero negative comments on the refurbished furniture. It matches perfectly with the rest of the interior, and looks and feels like new. Both teachers and students are very enthusiastic about their new study environment.”
Photography: Claartje ten Have