Rolex Learning Center

ROLEX LEARNING CENTER (2010) SANAA, Architects EFPL Campus Lausanne, Switzerland DESCRIPTION • 
The Rolex Learning Centre is the campus hub and library for the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland. • 
The building is 121.5 m x 162.5 m (398’ x 533’). The footprint is 20,200sqm (215,000 sf). The floor area is 37.000sqm (400,000sf). • 
It is a single story mat building above ground, connected to an underground parking and service level. • 
The building houses a large and rare science library with 500,000 volumes. • 
This educaXonal center also provides mulXpurpose spaces such as an auditorium, a café, a restaurant and offices that are very open and connected. It is open to the public. ARCHITECTS: KAZUYO SEJIMA & RYUE NISHIZAWA ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS •  The architects are Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) from Japan. They were selected based on an internaXonal compeXXon held in December 2004. •  Other parXcipants in the compeXXon were Herzog de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas. All were globally-­‐known starchitects. •  The building's innovaXve architectural concept is of an open park–like landscape where zones are separated by hills and slopes rather than walls and floors. This concept was chosen to promote social interacXon and collaboraXon between students, researchers, and experts. •  The building began construcXon in 2007 and was completed in 2010 and the architects won the Pritzker Prize for it. •  The Swiss structural engineers were Bollinger + Grohmann. Their work on the design of the undulaXng mat structure was a technological achievement. POLITICALLY • 
The client and the sponsors wanted to create a new type of space that encourages students and the larger community to exchange technical knowledge freely and easily as a catalyst for new ideas. • 
In response to this brief, the architects came up with the idea of an open park-­‐like landscape. • 
The client is trying to promote the idea of free and open collaboraXon without borders. Yet the Swiss corporaXons that sponsored the building hope to profit through new technologies they can sell for profit. • 
The client is projecXng a posiXve view of technology: visitors feel that the building itself is culng edge yet friendly. But in fact there is no guarantee that new technologies will not be used for the control and suppression of the populaXon. • 
The building is in the modernist tradiXon of clean, abstract forms and white or neutral gray surfaces, showing it’s technology. There is no color or ornament. It has an internaXonal corporate appearance: nothing is inherently “Swiss.” ECONOMICALLY •  The construcXon cost of the building was $110m. •  The client, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff members from over 120 naXonaliXes. •  The building was financed by the Swiss government and major Swiss technology and banking corporaXons. •  Logitech, the company who made the first computer mouse, sponsored the architectural compeXXon in 2004. •  Rolex has had a long relaXonship with the EPFL in the field of material science research and micro-­‐technology oriented towards the design of watches. •  Other “internaXonally acXve” (ie global-­‐market) Swiss partners who contributed to the finance, research, and innovaXon of the building are Losinger (construcXon), Nestlé, NovarXs (pharmaceuXcals), and SICPA (product security and authenXcity soluXons such as inks for currency). •  Credit Suisse has a Future Banking Laboratory in the building. •  The sponsors are interested in acquiring the best students as employees, and the rights to their ideas. •  The government also sponsored the building using tax dollars. This is a project that blurs the line between public and private. SOCIALLY -­‐ INTERIOR •  The Rolex Learning center is a model for collaboraXve learning and exchange of ideas. The conXnuous open plan and undulaXng secXon encourage casual engagement and interacXon compared to tradiXonal study spaces where corridors and classrooms are separated. •  It fosters “unintended encounters, where you might bump into an old friend, become inspired by another work group, or discover your favourite book. People will feel connected in the large open space but when privacy is desired, enclosed areas are provided for engaged acXviXes.” •  This building serves 4,000 researchers and 7,000 students uniXng science, engineering and industry. It brings students together with internaXonal experts. •  “The whole program is located in a one-­‐room space, where people studying one topic might become interested in another because the space is very open and connected.” •  It is meant to funcXon as a catalyst for the breeding of new relaXonships between the academic realm, industry and society. SOCIALLY -­‐ EXTERIOR •  The campus is somewhat outside of Lausanne city center but reachable with the Metro and bus. •  The EPFL campus is on a site overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps. The undulaXng shape of the building echoes the form of the Alps in the distance. •  The different levels and openings allow for views towards the lake and landscapes outside but also to the acXviXes and landscapes within. •  The Learning Center is located centrally on the low-­‐
density green area of the south campus. It is sited so as to be near to both exisXng and future populaXon centers [EPFL, UNIL and future student housing] yet, allows for future development. •  The main pedestrian entry is from below through one of the central perforaXons. The building has parking below grade connected via elevator. •  Bus and personal transport routes arrive within the perimeter of the Learning Center, further blurring the disXncXon between building and landscape. •  It funcXons as an internaXonal cultural hub for EPFL open to the community and hosts many technology conferences. People may go just to read a book or grab a coffee. • 
TECHNOLOGICALLY -­‐ DESIGN The concept of gentle slopes and terraces, undulaXng around a series of internal courtyards, was a technical challenge to design, engineer and construct. • 
The open plan had to accommodate many programs yet allow for calm, quiet zones and private study when needed. • 
The accomodaXon of wheelchairs to meet the city’s disability access code was difficult. • 
The complexity of such an undulaXng doubly curved surface had never been engineered before. The perforaXons added even more difficulty. • 
The shell’s surface had to be smooth and almost perfect. • 
The building is made up of a single structure where all the elements need to accommodate minor changes in dimensions produced by the natural and structural movements. This includes the glass façade. • 
The engineers and fabricators uXlized digital technology to achieve their goals. TECHNOLOGICALLY -­‐ ENGINEERING • 
The architects worked out the spaXal design with physical models. Due to its precise spaXal concept, the building could not follow straighuorward structural opXmizaXon via standard geometry such as using catenary curves. • 
The spaXal and structural objecXves had to be balanced and opXmized together in parallel (pareto opXmizaXon) to create the precise complex surfaces. This required a great deal of collaboraXon between the architects and the engineers. • 
The doubly curved floor is a monolithic concrete slab. The roof, which follows the geometry of the floor, is made of steel. The building's load is transferred directly via its undulaXng floor slab surface to the ground without columns below the slab. • 
LocaXon of 2 shells and 11 arches The floor was engineered as 2 concrete shells united by areas of flat slab and punctuated with 14 openings (lightwells and paXos). The engineers had to analyze local shell behavior to make the complex surface. UlXmately they designed 11 arches, located between the open paXos, to act as the primary structure. The horizontal bearing forces of the arches are then taken up with 70 post tensioned cables located below grade. Diagram of arch and post-­‐tensioned cables TECHNOLOGICALLY -­‐ CONSTRUCTION • 
Once the geometry was determined by the architects’ planning and raXonalized by the engineers structurally, a 3D NURBS model was made. In order to construct the smoothly curved slab surface, the fabricaXon of the formwork had to be precise. The NURBS model was used to generate the 1500 parametric formwork tables (molds) required for the concrete shells, along with 10,000 CNC-­‐cut individual cleats. The building was poured in 3 phases. ECOLOGICALLY •  The Rolex Learning Center is a highly energy-­‐efficient building with low energy consumpXon, 38.5 kWh/m2 (139 MJ/m2) . •  The pioneering engineering firm Sorane SA used digital modelling for airflow, lighXng, and thermal measurements to increase the energy efficiency of the new building to a technical maximum. •  The strategy includes high quality double-­‐glazed windows, 20cm of insulaXon in the roof and up to 35 cm in the ground, exterior blinds, natural lighXng and venXlaXon. •  The gentle undulaXng shape allows natural venXlaXon (“breathing”) by reducing the wind resistance: local over and under pressures acXvate cross venXlaXon of the building through the perforaXons. •  The building used the 25-­‐year-­‐old system of thermal pumps that uXlize lake water for cooling the whole campus. •  The building received the coveted Minergie raXng– the highest standard used in Switzerland for measuring environmental excellence. Open plan types are inherently energy inefficient, so this was an achievement. REFERENCES h"ps://­‐learning-­‐center-­‐by-­‐sanaa/ h"ps://­‐learning-­‐center-­‐sanaa h"ps://­‐rolex-­‐learning-­‐center/ h"ps://­‐centrum-­‐epfl h"ps://­‐gallery/rolex-­‐learning-­‐center h"ps://­‐learning-­‐center-­‐by-­‐sanaa-­‐
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