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The Technical Faculty SDU | C. F. Møller Architects
The University of Southern Denmark-or more commonly SDU-in Odense has got a new addition to its campus in mid-2015. This new addition is now housing the Faculty of Engineering and, therefore, provides a cutting-edge research centre and education environment for four different institutes. “The four institutes sharing the building are conducting world-class research in various fields such as material and construction science nano-optics, environmental sciences and robotics,” stated the architects. The construction of this 20000 square-meter project has commenced in 2011 and took just four years to be delivered.
Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects - Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects – Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

For this project, the University’s board has selected the international architecture office C. F. Møller Architects with its headquarters in Denmark. A firm that has gradually expanded across the world with international projects and offices in locations such as London, Oslo and Stockholm. The architecture firm has collaborated with Schønerr Landscape Architects and Engineers MOE. The design has been divided into 5 different minor buildings that are all wrapped in the same envelope and skin. These sub-buildings are connected with bridges at various levels across the main full-height atrium. These connections between the buildings allow students to interact with each other, share knowledge and actually see what other students or university staff are doing or dealing with. The design allows the buildings to be open to each other.
Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects - Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects – Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

At the heart of the full height atrium sits a magnificent piece of furniture which is essentially a gigantic staircase that acts as a circulation element connecting the bridges while it can also accommodate for various functions, events and even become a meeting place. It provides students with access to the roof where a garden, cafe and lounge area are located, offering great views to the green surroundings. The interior layout of the building as a whole is designed to be flexible and able to adapt to the different needs and functions through time and season. This is possible due to a combination of the solid core elements and sliding wall systems that adapt to the number of users at a specific time. This design has led to the larger labs being places on the ground floor so as to have easier access to the outdoors for performing various activities.
Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects - Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects – Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

The high-tech and high energy efficient design has been wrapped in an eye-catching skin on all four sides. It is a unique facade made of light pre-fabricated white Compact Reinforced Composite concrete of high strength that feature circular openings of various diameters. These circular openings follow a certain geometry across the four facades and are designed to follow the sun’s movement across the day and provide shading and air ventilation to the interior spaces. This geometry is gently broken by the positioning of a large circular opening on each facade that corresponds to a specific space of high functional demand.
Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects - Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects – Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

The plan of the classes and laboratories follows the contour lines of the terrain that surrounds the building. It is something that is not visible on its exterior, though. It has been designed to wave around on two different sides and through this a large open space is left in the middle of the plan which is taken up by the large piece of furniture, the driver of the whole design. This empty space also acts as the main access point that connects the building to the rest of the campus. This is accompanied by many lines of sight between the main structural cores that offer views on the surrounding and keep their awareness high between the students and professionals.
Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects - Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

Courtesy of C. F. Møller Architects – Photography: C.F. Møller Architects

It is a great design that is going to work for years to come in my opinion. But we do not know for sure yet of its performance as a technical neither technically of practically because the first academic year of it official use is the coming September. Finally, I am not convinced about the circular openings as I do not see any relationship with the rest of the campus or its history. To my eyes, I see just an idea that was made up at 2 am in the morning. The geometric order of the openings is very strict at some points and I am wondering whether all these spaces need the same shadow and natural light throughout the day. The layout has been designed to be flexible but then they have placed this strictly fixed skin on the exterior. It is a real eye-catcher and something that will grab the attention of everyone from all over the campus, but dear architects you could have done better on this one.
By: Andreas Leonidou
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