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AD Classics: Educatorium / OMA

Completed in 1997, the Educatorium in Utrecht, Netherlands was OMAs and Rem Koolhaas’ first university project.  Part of a larger masterplan for the campus of De Uithof for Utrecht University to create a more westernized version of a college campus, the Educatorium was designed to be the new center of campus, not only geographically but socially as well.

Understood to be the encapsulation of the entire university experience in one building, Koolhaas and his team at OMA conceptualized the Educatorium as a factory for learning in both the traditional formalistic approach as well as the informal student to student exchange.  The Educatorium was designed specifically so that the processes of socialization, learning, and examination would be entangled within one another blurring the boundaries between lounges, classrooms, and corridors such that there is a constant redefinition of what it means to learn in a social environment.

The design of the Educatorium is conceptualized as two planes that fold, wrap, and interlock with one another.  In section the two planes appear ot be in contention with one another; one plane rigid the other fluid a suggestion as to the programmatic, spatial, and social juxtapositions happening within.  In both cases of the concrete floor plates, there is a sense of fluidity – some more apparent than others – where floor becomes wall becomes ceiling in one simple motion.  The plastic nature of the concrete evokes a soft, airy quality that enriches the buildings sense of openness and variability of circulation as a network or interconnected paths.

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