The aim of the proposal for the University of Latvia Academic Center of Natural Sciences by Sestais Stils Architects is to create a comfortable, functional and sustainable environment for studies and work. They wanted a space for students and other interested persons to research and acquire contemporary knowledge and technologies. They also wanted to create a unit of urban structure where all functions necessary for optimal study and research process are provided at one place but at the same time the structure interacts with ‘outside world’ as well. More images and architects’ description after the break.
University of Latvia (UL) is going to create a modern learning infrastructure – university campus at Tornakalns district, Riga by year 2023. Location of the project site is very central in the city – the site faces Riga Old town just across the river Daugava. Academic Center of Natural Sciences is the first building, first construction stage of UL Academic Center and it is planed to be finished by year 2014.
The lleaf of an oak tree originally a symbol of UL reflects the needs of natural systems and represents principles of spatial structure used to create AC of UL. Effective use of land, optimization of energy consumption is considered as important as creating of spatial structures where the human is priority. Today, when society of “IT age” is developing so fast, time unites people more than space, so AC of UL is planned as “slow-motion” range where everything is reachable by foot.
Main tasks emerged during process of site planning:
- To ensure compatibility of the new structure with existing urban environment - To develop the complex in multiple stages and ensure independent functionality of each stage until complete realization of the AC of UL - To get maximal provision of natural light in buildings and outdoor spaces throughout the project - To realize placement of the buildings that ensures protection of dominant winds in outside spaces - To ensure optimal organization of pedestrian flow, cyclists and cars to avoid confusing intersections in the project site - To solve each building of the complex as visually independent object and to create a square characteristic to city structure surrounded by different buildings - To create central square with views of important urban dominants of the surrounding environment of the city.
AC of Natural Sciences will be the first building in large scale development of extensive area and it was necessary to create active, noticeable and recognizable building that could become a landmark of the site and reflect contemporary tendencies as well as sustainability. The building is compact free-standing 8-storey structure that embodies 4 faculties of UL – Faculty of Chemistry, Faculty of Biology, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences as well as a number of research institutes.
Since there will be faculties of natural sciences located in the building, significant part of the building character is considered to be double facade created of green plants that reduce temperature variations, this green structure avoids overheating in summer and protects from wind and precipitation in the winter. Supportive elements for the vines are decorative metal grid. The lower level of facades will consist of curtain wall and reinforced concrete panels. Corner accent of vertical blinds directed towards future Academic square represents connection to the central part of the complex as well as protects atrium inside the building from overheating.
It is planned to set a small wind generator on the roof construction. Patio will be covered with glazed roof, partly shaded by photovoltaic panels and supported by metal constructions. Landscape of the territory will be formed by cereals and collections of decorative grasses that can be replaced with natural meadow as well as lawn.
There are two main lobbies in the building as recreation zones and connected with wide stairs. In this way both entrances (the one that will be used after first construction stage and the second entrance that leads to the Academic square) of the building are noticeable enough. As one entrance is directly connected to the main block of auditoriums, it is possible to ensure processes of wider events (conferences, seminars) without disturbing study process. There is a patio above the main auditorium that will be used as recreational area as well as space for common meetings. Atrium in the west part of the building is connected with lobbies in each floor, where digital libraries and working places for individual work of students are located. Laboratories of limited access connect to hallway, equipped with access control system in each floor.
On the ground floor of the building block of 3 main auditoriums, library zone and café will be located. It is planned to separate library zone from the rest of the lobby with design element – glass structure wall. On the first floor auditoriums and rooms for student services, student authority as well as administrative and service staff are located, the second floor mainly occupied with auditoriums.
Upper floors are designed as work and study space for each faculty and corresponding research institutes. Laboratories face outside perimeter of the building while rooms for academic staff are directed to the patio in the center of the building. On the 8th floor, with a view of the Riga Old town and another new building – National Library of Latvia, center of conferences, gym and greenhouses necessary for scientific research are situated.
Architects: Sestais Stils Architects Location: Riga, Latvia Project Team: Vita Polkovņikova, Ina Kuļikovska, Raivis Liepiņš, Kristaps Bautra, Dace Zariņa, Madara Plāciņa, Alise Jēkabsone, Liāna Labada, Kristaps Sautiņš, Aleksandrs Čepiguss, Ingūna Stankēviča (landscape architect), Ernests Vītiņš (artist), Āris Smildzers (artist) Client: University of Latvia Site Area: 45412.07m2 Building Area: 2937.00 m2 Total Floor Area: 22333.00 m2