The Right Spirit
The team of governors and architects for the development of the temporary lodging of the Faculty of Architecture after the fire did an excellent job. The transformation of the old TU main building is in full blast now. The first results are almost perfect. They show, in our opinion, the right spirit and atmosphere, not only for this moment of crisis shortly after the great disaster of the fire, but also for our conception of the architectural culture cultivated in the Faculty since a long time.
This architectural culture – critical and realistic in its scientific approach, pluralistic in its design methods by principle – is pertinent to the Delft educational program. Every prestigious all-embracing new building project of whatever kind of world famous architecture at this moment will be a corruption of the schools spirit of recovery. It will also miss the opportunity to show the mastery of the school in tackling the most urgent task of architecture and town planning today: the transformation, re-use and up dating of existent urban environments.
The Right Concept
We see the work done up till now as the first step to a more permanent solution for the accommodation of the Faculty of Architecture. Instead of one competition for a completely new faculty building, we propose to make a second step in the process already started and to organize two, three, or maybe four competitions for further additions to the supposed temporary lodging of the faculty.
Generally speaking the program of a school of architecture and its built accommodation is only loosely connected. The curriculum changes every four or five years. Since more then a hundred years improvisation within existing buildings is the rule in Delft. The forty years in the Van den Broek en Bakema building, exclusively designed for architectural education, were no exception to that practice. In fact what is needed, is a lot of generic working space. The old main building of the TU provides plenty of it.
Yet the choice of a particular architecture for the faculty building is significant for our proposal. In fact the choice for an conglomerate composition of diverse architectural interventions in an existent building complex stands for a didactic program. Students in architecture and town planning today have to cope with the value of plurality in contemporary culture. The conglomeration of additions to the old main building of the TU gives the possibility to confront students with a collection of today’s architectural productions. At the same time the context of the existent architecture provokes them to evaluate the quality of these new productions against the concrete background of earlier productions.
To change the temporary accommodation of the faculty into a permanent one at least three further additions are necessary: an architectural library building with underground parking garage, an auditorium building and a exhibition hall in the park; the last two buildings with underground connection to pass the traffic of the Julianalaan. These three additions, in our opinion, are essential, because these facilities ask for special architectural treatment. Caring for the conservation and transfer of the knowledge and wisdom accumulated in the faculty, these facilities can be seen as the permanent institutions amidst the constant improvisation of the school.
The Right Location
The reacquisition of the old main building of the TU for the Faculty of Architecture brings the university near the city center again. Using the campus idea for the present reconstruction of the TU district sets this public institution apart form its cradle and makes it much more introvert. Outsiders coming by car from the A13 are only confronted with backsides. Railway stations are far away. Only the new tramline is thought to compensate for this loss of public appearance.
Relocating the Faculty of Architecture, the most public oriented part of the TU, can bridge the gap between city and university. It can change the park in front of the old main building into a real public space. Abolition of the northern traffic route creates a big park with direct access to the waterway around the historic city. The Architecture Gallery, the Architecture Auditorium Building, the Stylos Café, together with the TU Hortus Botanicus and the park itself surrounded by old university buildings will provide for places of interest to the general public. An extra footbridge moreover will give connection to the TU Technical Museum, just inside the old center.