16 March 2015

A Vegetable-Like University Building Designed To Encourage Creativity And Ideas

Located in Singapore, the new ‘Learning Hub’ building at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) comprises 12 towers that resemble a cluster of vegetables.

In a bold departure from the traditional university campus building, the eight-storey structure features tapered towers surrounding an atrium, instead of “miles of corridors linking box-like lecture rooms”.

The unusual building was conceived by British designer Thomas Heatherwick in partnership with local architecture firm CPG Consultants. It’s the second project by Heatherwick’s firm to make the news recently, after its revamp of Google’s new California headquarters.

According to the designers, the lack of contours and corners will encourage interaction between staff and students, and lead to more collaborative learning.

“In the information age the most important commodity on a campus is social space to meet and bump into and learn from each other,” said Heatherwick to Dezeen.

The exterior of the building is covered with curved concrete panels, while the towers feature irregular horizontal stripes that give it the appearance of root vegetables, though the designers prefer to compare it to wet clay.

Each level has balconies that extend outwards the higher the level, to provide views into the atrium, while natural ventilation allows air to circulate in the space.

The towers balance on 61 angled concrete columns that have interesting wave-like textures; those near the stairs and elevators are decorated with over 700 drawings by illustrator Sara Fanelli representing images from art, science and literature.

NTU professor Kam Chan Hin described the ‘Learning Hub as offering “an exciting mix of learning, community and recreational spaces”, adding that the school is at the forefront of spurring “future innovations and new knowledge that increasingly happen at the intersection of disciplines.”

Check out some images of the building below. What do you think of its design?

[via Dezeen, images by Hufton + Crow]