Text description provided by the architects. At DTU, north of Copenhagen, Copenhagen based Danish architect firm Christensen & Co Architect´s has created a new building which is already shaping up to be an innovative, new research and learning environment. Presently, researchers, teachers and students are settling in to the new building, called DTU Compute, and it has already become a landmark of the university's high ambitions. The explanation is found in the architecture, which has been developed to stimulate and strengthen the sharing of scientific ideas and knowledge.
DTU Compute has created a whole new way of accessing the university's greatest resource: the scientifically working and learning human being. There are no dark corridors at DTU Compute. Instead, the interior of the building creates a continuous and lush inner oasis with huge trees that form a living, communal space weaving through the whole building and connecting both students and staff spatially.
The multiply functions of the building are situated in eight separate towers with glass walls beneath the building's outer glass facade and the large skylights in the roof. All the rooms and functions are found here: seminar rooms and spaces for students on the ground floor, offices and open communal spaces for researchers on the upper levels. The towers are connected by footbridges that create a vibrant flow of movement throughout the upper levels of the building. Here you can walk between the treetops with a view of the student areas on the ground floor.
The trees contribute positively to the building's profile of sustainability. It helps the building breathe, so to speak. But their significance to the architectural idea behind the building is greater than that. In most cultures and at all times, trees have held a universal symbolic meaning in life, learning, wisdom and experience. Especially important in this case is the attractive power of trees as a place where people assemble naturally. The 22 trees are placed in small groups; they create a light and natural ceiling above the study areas, and filter the daylight, which is present everywhere throughout the building.
The DTU Compute facade serves as a partially transparent skin around the inner world of the building and offers flowing visual transitions between the inside and outside, so that life within the building enriches the spaces and courtyards around it. The facade is made of glass with several different properties: Transparent glass, sandblasted glass, white, non-transparent glass and a few surfaces in raw aluminium. Everywhere, the facade creates varying degrees of transparency, depth and reflection, and from afar you can make out the contours of the trees inside, and of people moving around inside the building like a shimmer of concentrated life. From the inside there is an open view of the adjacent courtyards with the large oak trees, organically connecting the inner landscape of the building with the landscape around it, and the trees inside act as a foreground to the oak trees outside.
The building's interior is a sort of micro campus, a coherent universe of research and learning, which is tied together by the main space with the large trees. The many different processes and situations associated with scientific work, involving learning and interdisciplinary innovation have been taken into account in every little detail. There's room for individual studies, lively conversation, concentrated work in small or large groups, and focus and exchange of knowledge. It is all made possible in a way that does not inhibit the learner, but constantly adapts to the many different needs that arise in the space.
The ground floor is dedicated to group studies and communal life. There are large, advanced classrooms, and in between them there is space for group work in the custom designed study and lounge furniture made from veneer spiced up with bright colours that mimic the palette of the leaves on the trees during their year-long cycle. The open staircases offer a beautiful journey up through the treetops to the upper levels. The two staircases sit at the centre of the large room, affording easy access up through the scientific hierarchy to the open footbridges and balconies, to informal meetings between researchers and students. The glass walls around the research offices and conference rooms offer an unobstructed view of the study areas on the ground floor.
As a whole, DTU Compute is a fresh new take on a research and learning complex for the future, which offers a special spatial and organizational quality, which is both modern and progressive as well as deeply rooted in the historical and topographical context of DTU.