Circular project Fontys University of Applied Sciences Venlo
Take the somewhat empty reception area of the Fontys Venlo campus and turn it into a dynamic meeting and learning environment. Sustainable, green and multifunctional. And most importantly: a place where students and teachers feel comfortable. Bossche Studios created the interior design in close cooperation with Gispen and Fontys, which was translated into the new furnishing.
The client’s thoughts
'When the new reception area was put into use, that what we were aiming for actually happened! The hall was used intensively right away. Students work here and people use it as a meeting point. The area has come alive and has a beautiful ambiance with a green touch; from the wooden cylinder to the green wall and the application of cork. Carefully-made choices, because sustainability is important to us.’
Town square where everyone feels at home
Véronique Topper of Bossche Studios created the interior design. Fontys employees were included in the decision-making process. ‘In the bi-weekly work group meetings, with representatives from all three institutes, we discussed the desired functions of the hall. In addition to a meeting area and study landscape, it should also be suitable as a place of promotion for the Fontys programmes – a town square where all the programmes are accommodated and where they can present themselves. We also organised workshops where future users could draw up their own ideas in terms of layout. Good input for the final design.’
The centrally placed cylinder with its wooden ribs and green roof is a true eyecatcher. It fulfils many functions: you can hold a meeting at the round table, or turn it into a 'market stall' during an open house. Students plop down onto the benches placed around it and check their phones or catch up with their classmates. Maarten Houdijk, account manager at Gispen: 'We came up with many custom solutions for the campus in Venlo. The wooden cylinder is a good example of this, as is the counter; both created in collaboration with interior constructor Sant Interiors.' Gispen MultiLounge train benches have been installed in several places. Véronique Topper: ‘The decision for doing so was partly based on our experiences at other Fontys locations; the train benches are always occupied.’ Sustainable detail: some of the benches have been covered with cork. The floor inside the cylinder is also made of cork. The workspace of the Green Tech Lab is directly adjacent to the central square. Maarten Houdijk: 'This space was also sustainably designed due to the reusing of Ahrend office chairs, which were given a thorough technical check. The tabletops of the desks are made of rubberwood: residual wood from rubber production.’
In addition to the smaller furniture pieces such as the Dukdalf side tables and Asido footstools, there is a large centre piece you simply cannot miss: HUBB. The modular furniture collection that Gispen and Mecanoo developed specifically for education. This innovative design premiered at the Fontys Rachelsmolen Campus in Eindhoven, but in a slightly different configuration. Venlo is also a pioneer: this is the first time that upholstery has been applied to the seats and backs, for a more luxury appearance and more comfort. Maarten Sars of Fontys: 'I was already enthusiastic about this piece of furniture, so it's great that it has found its way to Venlo. No matter from which angle you look at it – even from above, looking at the felt top – it really is an object in its own right, which definitely comes into its own here. HUBB is being used extensively! The students’ first requirement was a power socket. So these are integrated in HUBB. And you can use HUBB to work or discuss things privately.’
The architect’s thoughts
‘Together with Gispen, we have created a multifunctional space with an organic look. In order to give more presence to the 'green' side of the campus and the institutes, sustainability was an important starting point. I elaborated on this by using sustainable materials with matching colours. The metre-wide collages of Stories on the Wall provide some extra colour. The drawings make a connection with Venlo, but also with the international character of the campus and the character of the study programmes.'
Are you satisfied with the result?
Client Maarten Sars: 'Eventually, we do it all for the students. They are the ones who need to live with what we offer them. The new reception area has been a great success from the beginning, at the start of the academic year. Students, teachers, everybody enjoys staying there. We are not the easiest of clients; we set the bar high. In other locations, we have been able to experience what works and doesn’t work by means of trial and error. We have used these experiences to our benefit in this new project. Bossche Studios and Gispen have put our input to good use and the result is fantastic. Personally, I wondered how all those shades of green would turn out in one room, but it matches beautifully. This is where the expertise of Bossche Studios and Gispen comes in.’
Photography: Chris van Koeverden