The new Howest Campus Building in Kortrijk was the subject of an invitation based competition with nine participants, out of which OYO – Open Y Office, together with Arch&Teco, received the second prize.
The client, Howest – University College West Flanders became a Higher Education Institution, after the merge of 6 other institutions in Flanders. The most difficult task was creating for a university that describes itself as “creative, a-typical, innovative and entrepreneurial” while also maintaining a sustainable solution and making it appealing and interesting for young generations, but also appropriate for the older ones that are required to use the space, such as faculty members. A place that brings together lecture rooms, meeting spaces, restaurants and pubs, shops and a park, in an informal manner that encapsulates the classrooms in the middle, the Campus is also an unconventional space that accommodates students and teachers, or even outside visitors.
There is a continuum of green space around the slabs, therefore each floor gains park area. These “green pockets” placed all throughout the campus form recreational areas and non-conventional studying spaces. The creators describe their purpose as it “should be 24/7, adaptable, and translated into a flexible typology where its users can shop knowledge, process that knowledge, redevelop and re-display their work on the continuous knowledge track wrapping inside the building” What I personally consider to be truly unique about this proposal is the process used to bring together all the necessary functions – it is somewhat of a compact structure, compared to other approaches for this type of construction. It is a whole, singular building with interventions of green spaces and adjacent modules and a multitude of functionalities, rather than a “small city” type of construction, which is the regular campus form.
At a larger scale, the proposal’s charm consists in its property of being equally as visually appealing from all 360 degrees, due to its circular planimetry, this creating a multidimensional new attraction spot for the small town of Kortrijk.