Paul de Ruiter

Hogeschool Rotterdam Business School

Connected to the outside World

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1932 Aiste Rakauskaite Atrium Evening
1932 Aiste Rakauskaite Atrium Downward
1932 Aiste Rakauskaite Cafeteria
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1932 Aiste Rakauskaite Entrancehall
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This uplifting, light-filled building serves as the training ground for the young economists and business leaders of tomorrow. As an extension of the Rotterdam Business School, the building is sustainable, energy-neutral, designed for easy adaptability and it got constructed according to circular construction principles. Paul de Ruiter Architects designed this extension in collaboration with a student advisory group from the university, whose members were invited to envision their ideal learning environment.

Education, Energy neutral, Innovative climate system, Sunlight Usage

The extension enables the consolidation of all of the Rotterdam Business School’s economics departments under one roof. The 14,000 m² expansion of the former faculty complex resulted in a combined floor area of 35,000 m² for the daily traffic of up to 10,000 students. The entire ensemble, a significant part of which Paul de Ruiter Architects completed in 2018, boasts purpose-built study areas and a new main entrance. The extension’s double-height and see-through base houses a media library and an incubator zone, including a business lobby and a grand café. It serves as the centre of activity for life on campus.

Connected to the world around it

The building is defined by its transparency and relationship with its surroundings. Its most immediately striking feature beyond its transparency is the large, stepped atrium on the north façade, with its solid wood framework and double height main entrance.

A straight wooden staircase runs parallel through the atrium’s glazed façade, connecting the various floors and study plazas while offering an unobstructed view over the campus. Opposite the atrium’s glazed wall, mirroring its grid façade and outline, are a series of project rooms whose north-facing, floor-to-ceiling glass walls also offer splendid views over the campus. Just as the glazed façade frames the world beyond for the building’s occupants, it does the same for those outside, but in reverse, creating a visual spectacle of the activity inside for passers-by. The clear-glass walls produce an optical effect where the building’s surroundings appear to flow into its interior and activity inside the building appears to take place outdoors.

“The clear-glass walls produce an optical effect where the building’s surroundings appear to flow into its interior and activity inside the building appears to take place outdoors.”

A learning environment determined by students’ needs

The majority of the building’s users are students, so we convened a brainstorming session where representatives from the student body envisioned their ideal learning environment. 

Many of the ideas and suggestions centered on a single fact: undergraduates spend a significant amount of time on campus, whether studying or not. As a result, the most common request was for a building that offered functional variety to meet the students’ diverse needs, particularly those related to studying, both individually or in groups, and socializing. Our design addresses these needs by offering a variety of easily adaptable study areas and communal spaces reminiscent of the public spaces in a large library. The meeting areas have the ambience of a reading café or hotel lobby while the areas for socializing feel more like living rooms. The design thus includes numerous spots for quiet study as well as spaces for relaxing, socializing and exchanging ideas.

“The design thus includes numerous spots for quiet study as well as spaces for relaxing, socializing and exchanging ideas.”

Future-proof through adaptability

Academic instruction has evolved significantly over the past twenty years, and it is certain to continue changing in the next twenty. New methods will replace or supplement old ones, new concepts will be trialed and introduced, and new areas of study will emerge, attracting new generations of undergraduates. To accommodate these developments, the new extension is designed to allow the spaces within it to be repurposed with relative ease. Additionally, footbridges on all floors enable easy access to the surrounding buildings, a convenience that along with several others, promises to yield benefits for decades to come as new educational needs emerge.

“The building is designed to allow the various areas within it to be repurposed with relative ease”

Sustainable and healthy

The parts that aren’t flexible, such as the load-bearing structure and the facade, are made of highly durable and maintenance-free materials, and boast a high rate of circular material use. Furthermore, the extension is energy-neutral. Its compact design, high-quality of insulation materials, and presence-detection-based lighting, heating, and ventilation systems help minimize energy wastage. Its energy needs are met by rooftop solar panels and other natural means of energy generation.

A great deal of thought has gone into supporting the health and well-being of the building’s users. Various measures are in place to ensure a constant supply of fresh air, regulate room temperatures, and provide a comfortable acoustic experience throughout the building. Natural light, known to enhance human well-being and support energy efficiency, is carefully managed. The atrium roof and facade are designed to admit natural light without undesirable side effects such as glare or excessive contrast.

Project details


Name and location Hogeschool Rotterdam, Rotterdam
Address Kralingse Zoom 91
Total floor area 14,000 m2
Project description Flexible, multifunctional educational building
Start of design February 2020
Stary of construction March 2021
Completion May 2023
Sustainability Energy neutral


Client Hogeschool Rotterdam
Project architect Paul de Ruiter and Raymond van Sabben
Project team Jolien Bruin, Julius Klatte, Mark Homminga, Paul Bordei, Sander Bakker, Vera Laitão, Yamoh Rasa
Contractor Heerkens van Bavel Bouw
Construction consultant Pieters Bouwtechniek
Building services engineering Valstar Simonis
Structural engineering DGMR
Interior Architect Studio Groen+Schild
Urban design Juurlink+Geluk
Cost consultants IGG Bouweconomie
Artist impressions Paul de Ruiter Architects, Pixelpool
Photographer Aiste Rakauskaite

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