Fontys University of Applied Sciences, De Rondom
De Rondom, a former TNO building on the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), is home to three programmes of Fontys University of Applied Sciences. This is where students can pursue an educational career in technology. In addition, this open community is accessible to researchers and entrepreneurs. The building has been transformed into a future-oriented building of education. Studio Groen + sCHILD produced the interior design for the five storeys. Gispen translated the design into a furnishing plan with both new and reused furniture as well as custom solutions; this was done in close cooperation with Fontys.
Future-oriented building of education
The faculties of Applied Natural Sciences, Engineering & Automotive and Business Management and Education & Technology were looking for a new location where they could be accommodated together. Along with 27 other institutes of higher education, these three faculties provide higher-vocational education to 45,000 students in the south of the Netherlands. The former TNO building ‘De Rondom’ at the TU/e campus proved to be a suitable location. However, client Maarten Sars did require this building to be transformed into a future-oriented building of education. “We strive to have the various study programmes to come into contact with one other in a natural way. Shared study spaces and meeting areas support teamwork and make the study programmes more accessible. At the same time, every institute must have its own identity within a shared environment. Studio Groen+Schild has created unity in diversity by means of an interior design that features different colour schemes; each programme was given the opportunity to choose their own colour scheme. This concept was a starting point for the interior design, which we then built on together with the interior architect of Gispen.”
The client’s thoughts
Fontys wanted to actively involve its lecturers and staff in the creation of the interior design. They were offered a great many options to choose from; after all, they are the ones who have to work, conduct research and spend time in this new environment. Reusing existing pieces of furniture was also very important to us. Adding this to the enormous size of the project and tight schedule, you can certainly speak of a challenge. Together with Gispen we invested a great deal of energy into the preliminary process. In addition, it was a good decision to rent a warehouse where all the furniture was sorted per zone. This allowed Gispen to start furnishing directly after the contractor completed their end of the project. This was a great success.
The interior design of Studio Groen+Schild served as a starting point for Gispen in order to select the separate, fixed and custom-made pieces of furniture. The Gispen project team, including project manager Isabelle Fiddelers and account manager Maarten Houdijk, worked closely together with Fontys on the interior design. Maarten Houdijk: “The fantastic teamwork and very open attitude of all participating parties was quite remarkable. Not an unnecessary luxury in such an extensive project, which also had to be completed within a short timeframe. An additional request of Fontys was that we moved all the old furniture out of the former buildings. This meant that we had to determine what could be reused and refurbished from the different locations. We took this very far in this project.”
A few examples of clever reuse: no fewer than 265 office chairs were reupholstered and technically improved. Gispen made custom covers for 250 old plastic folding chairs; these are now used as conference chairs. The uncomfortable plastic shells of 109 computer chairs have been replaced with upholstered shells from the Gispen Triennial chair collection. Isabelle Fiddelers: “Fontys takes the reuse of materials and furniture very far. The old shells of the computer chairs are now being used elsewhere and the old whiteboards have been donated to a less affluent (educational) institution. We have also managed to convert used coach seats of different sizes from the former buildings into 150 metres worth of coach seats that look like new!”
A word from the interior architect
The most striking spatial intervention that we carried out in the building is definitely the steel ribbon that connects the study squares with one another. The seminars that were attended by the users showed that the institutes were looking for interaction while retaining their own identity. The frame allows the students to communicate who they are and what they are doing. LED screens, pinboards, a bookcase and a real greenhouse all reflect the identity of the various institutes. I have visited the building a couple of times and it was apparent that Het Lint (the ribbon) has contributed to the forming and strengthening of the community at De Rondom.
Steel ribbon as a common thread through the building
The most striking feature is the steel ribbon that runs through the entire building. The steel construction serves as a common thread through the five-storey building. Different panels can be placed against the frame of the ribbon. This allows the programmes to highlight their own space and identity. Isabelle Fiddelers: “They can decide for themselves which panels they would like to install. There are wooden panels, perspex panels in the colour schemes, there are panels with moss, bulletin boards and monitors. The programmes have also been supplied with additional panels, so that they can change their design whenever they would like to; a temporary change can be made for displaying graduation projects, for example. The size of this project and the freedom of choice that Fontys offers the (sub)programmes is what makes De Rondom truly unique.”
Are you satisfied with the result?
In the meantime, the three technical programmes and their students have started working, studying and conducting research at De Rondom. Does the interior inspire people and does it bring about interaction? Maarten Sars: “From what I have heard, people consider it a pleasant, airy and lively environment to spend time in. What is quite special is that everyone thinks that everything is brand new! I personally take this as a great compliment. Especially when knowing how many materials and furniture pieces were reused and refurbished. Moreover, we hardly had any follow-up deliveries or delivery issues. This is all thanks to the fantastic teamwork and thorough preparations that were made by Gispen.”
Photography: Chris van Koeverden
The employee’s thoughts
Fontys installed a range of new furniture pieces in addition to the items that were reused. Gispen supplied 39 corner units for focused work as well as 389 TM workstations, with accompanied alterations and custom solutions. In addition, we manufactured dividing screens for in between the TM workstations and upholstered them in the designated colour schemes. We also incorporated monitors in the side panels of the corner units. The power cords and cables were neatly routed to and tucked away into the 4-metre ceiling; a full cable management service was provided for the entire building. It was a special and complex puzzle to which I contributed with great pleasure.”