Energyville

A sustainable, future-proof research laboratory
  • education
    education
  • laboratories
    laboratories
  • interior
    interior
  • innovative climate system
    innovative climate system
  • utilisation sunlight
    utilisation sunlight

Paul de Ruiter Architects were the runners-up in a Europe-wide tender to design KU Leuven’s new research laboratory and educational centre for its work on smart grids. EnergyVille, as the centre would be known, was to be part of the Waterschei Science Park in Genk. The centre’s researchers would provide expertise to industry and public authorities on energy-efficient buildings and intelligent networks for a sustainable urban environment. The centre would thus need to reflect their sustainable credentials and promote a greater sense of collective environmental responsibility.

Energyville 1

The atrium as the heart of the building

Our design was conceived to promote interaction and operational synergy. The building comprises three floors, each with its own character. A spacious atrium at the heart of the building connects the floors internally, visually and literally, with staircases along the perimeter of the atrium providing the quickest routes between floors. The atrium features indoor trees and vertical lawns, which make it a welcoming green area for informal meetings.

Energyville 2

Optimal reception of daylight

The building is oriented to receive the optimal amount of daylight necessary for natural illumination throughout the workday, with blinds installed to prevent the build-up of heat and avoid glare. The blinds consist of horizontal slats on the south façade — to provide shade when the sun is at its highest point in the sky — and vertical slats in the east and west façade, for when the sun is closer to the horizon.

The concrete structural core helps maintain stable laboratory conditions

Sustainable climate control

The structural core is built from concrete and specially designed to regulate heating and cooling and maintain stable laboratory conditions. Further regulation is enabled via climate-control ceilings linked to a heat exchanger. Given the effectiveness of the concrete core in regulating room temperature, this additional provision will rarely be needed, thus keeping costs low and minimising energy consumption. It also allowed considerable savings in building materials. The provisions create “climate islands” that also help ensure an acoustically pleasant work environment. The plants and trees in the atrium also help regulate indoor temperatures and humidity and maintain thermal comfort.

Energyville 3

Permanently sustainable

EnergyVille is the embodiment of numerous sustainability ambitions, including that of future-proof work and learning environments. Such environments will, for instance, require the use of solar panels, the employment of sunlight for illumination and the minimisation of energy consumption through the use of occupancy sensors for artificial lighting, all of which EnergyVille employs. The building is also equipped for rainwater harvesting from rooftop catchments, which are connected to rainwater reservoirs that supply the toilets and water the plants in the atrium.

Project details

Information

Project description Research laboratory and educational building
Location Genk-Waterschei
Start of design September 2010

Project Team

Client KU Leuven