Tilburg University

The green campus
  • education
  • interior
  • Design & Build
    Design & Build


This architectural concept was conceived in response to a design-build competition calling for submissions regarding a new Education and Self-study Centre (OCZ) for Tilburg University, which was to undergo extensive spatial expansion. The submission met all the necessary requirements for a BREEAM Excellent rating of environmental performance and sought to connect the university with the world beyond its campus. The design offers a modern take on Bedaux’s pre-existing buildings, which were built in the 60s and 70s. Those buildings are compact in form and sober in character, qualities that derive from their basis in Dom Hans van der Laan’s “plastic number” ratio, and their juxtaposition vis-à-vis their leafy setting makes for an interesting interplay of contrasts.

Ozc 2 1
Ozc 2 2
Ozc 2 3

The centre as an open and transparent arena of learning

The new concept also emphasizes the interplay between the building and its leafy setting. Furthermore, it is of a piece with campus’s interesting sightlines, the dynamic quality of its outdoor spaces and its logical footpaths. The layout of each of the OCZ’s two floors is configured according to function. The ground floor is open, transparent and inviting, and dissolves the division between the building’s interior and its green and wooded surroundings, thanks to a glass façade that reflects and offers uninterrupted views of the lawns and trees beyond. The floor provides several rooms for groupwork involving small groups; a larger, open area for independent study; and a canteen. We placed the rooms for groupwork involving larger groups and the examination rooms on the second floor. At the heart of the building is a 600-seat lecture theatre. Our setting-sensitive approach to this project and the even balance of individual study areas, groupwork spaces and lecture rooms have resulted in a design that supports the new approach to learning.

Central axis as main artery

A central axis establishes the logic and clarity of the building’s layout, and funnels traffic on entry. This axis runs the length of the building, connecting north to south and providing access to the lecture theatre and self-study areas. It also separates the areas of greater activity from the quieter spaces. The former, for instance, in the form of the lecture theatre and examination rooms, are accessible via a wide staircase that presents itself to students upon their entry into the building, thereby keeping heavy traffic away from the quieter study zones at the northern end of the building.

Ozc 4 1
Ozc 4 2
Ozc 4 3

The axis comprises an atrium with a sawtooth roof inlaid with solar panels and a green courtyard. The courtyard is designed to attract butterflies and birds, and even includes bat houses. These spaces ensure that the heart of the building is bathed in abundant daylight.

Ozc 5

Lectures at the heart of the building

Locating the lecture theatre along the central axis has allowed us to dedicate as much of the façade as possible to the rooms that need daylight the most. Nevertheless, to ensure the lecture theatre, too, benefits from natural light, we employed daylight-harvesting surfaces that reflect diffused light deep into the building and towards the rear of the lecture theatre, thereby avoiding solar glare.

Project details


Location Tilburg
Total floor area 10,700 m²
Project description Multifunctional educational building
Start design July 2015

Project Team

Client Tilburg University
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Tender team Martijn van Gameren, Florina Raileanu, Joris Korbee, Noud Paes
Design & Build team SMT Bouw en Vastgoed, Unica, DGMR, Techniplan & Van Rossum