IT Laboratories and Data Centre Ghent University

Architect: evr-architecten  Client: Universiteit Gent
Advisors: Arcadis Belgium (stability, techniques)
Location: Zwijnaarde
Surface: 18.000 m²
Timing: 2010 - 2015 
Budget: € 30.000.000
Status: realized 

© Renders : evr-architecten in collaboration with Bureau Bouwtechniek
© Sarah Blee

Project Support I Collaboration

The University of Ghent is building IT Laboratories and a Data Centre on the Ardoyen Campus in Zwijnaarde. The urban design, developed since 1999, gives the site a qualitative combination between campus / science park and office area with significant compression capabilities within a high-quality green and natural structure. The 'efficient use of space' approach resulted in a densely stacked volume consisting of a base that houses some public functions and a data centre behind it with an office and lab tower of 13 storeys. The plot´s small footprint still permits ample expansion possibilities.

The tower is conceived as an accumulation of column-free and flexible offices and research platforms, around a central core. The ground floor and the first floor on the side of the square are used for transparent public functions, such as a library, a small auditorium, some large classrooms and a reception with sitting areas.

The height emphasis comes from reading the context: its location on the urban fringe and along the main roads N60 and E40, the visibility of the campus and the creation of a landmark for the local and (inter)national public. The visual realisations of the multifaceted context are created in a varied way by the different façades and heights. The project strives for an appearance of accuracy, appropriateness and sustainability.

Beyond passive
The project is sustainable in the broadest sense of the word: in the core and in many aspects. The biggest environmental challenge is the energy-efficient cooling for the data centre. The residual heat of the 1,000 m² data centre is used as a heat source for heating the remaining 17,000 m² of the building. Clean energy is provided through the south-facing PV-façade.

Façade- engineering
The various façade treatments also take into account the differing climatic conditions, optimal use of daylight, flexibility of the spaces behind the building, economics and easy maintenance. 
In addition to sustainable techniques, the façade was also given a sustainable structure. The closed façade sections consist of HSB panels that are mounted before the concrete shell, a very efficient construction method with low environmental costs. At the time of execution, these panels were regularly used in Belgium in small-scale projects, but their use in high-rise buildings was new.

Biggest challenges for the façade:

  • increased wind and rain load  
  • search for suitable fire engineering solutions. 

A washing plant on the roof provides for the maintenance of the facades.

For this project, we worked together with external parties in using Revit, for the first time. During the close collaboration between Bureau Bouwtechniek and Arcadis, a completely integrated BIM model was developed. After strict agreements regarding the model construction, the architectural model was created by BB. The sub-models for stability and techniques were developed by Arcadis.

Since a lot of techniques remain visible in the project and are an integral part of the architecture, the integrated BIM model is the exquisite tool to monitor and optimize the impact of the techniques on the architectural context, together with the architect's firm.
The architectural elements were analysed by BB and included in the model. The intelligent elements generate extensive and detailed measurements.

Bureau Bouwtechniek is responsible for the technical assistance during the design process, the layout of the implementation plans, the development of technical details, the blueprint of constructional specifications and estimates. BB leads the monitoring of the implementation.

Team BB: arch. Raf De Preter, ir. arch. Paulus Present