Our client Kadans Science Partner wanted an “incubator” on the university campus: one building in which start-ups and established companies from the agriculture and food industry could come together on university grounds. The goal was to create a large incubator with plenty of room for research and innovation.
We formulated the assignment for ourselves as the realisation of a timeless, inspiring, generic building structure that, thanks to its spatial layout, would encourage interaction between people from various companies. Our philosophy: contact leads to cooperation and innovation. And it worked.
Plus Ultra offers 7,000 m2 of space for offices, laboratories, multipurpose tech halls, flex workstations and various meeting rooms. But it doesn’t feel like that inside. The building unfolds around a large atrium with plenty of daylight entering through the glass roof. A staircase connects the various floors, touching the common area on each one. There are also small, connected squares where users can sit, think and chat when they need a break from the office or the lab. These spaces include coffee machines, comfortable chairs and relaxing sofas. This is where the connection happens—this is where people meet.
Strictly speaking, the building is a sturdy concrete shell with a soft, beautiful wooden lining and voluptuous staircase. The exposed concrete forms both the building skeleton and the floors, which are all made from one material.
The wood that hides most installations provides a contrast to the hardness of the concrete and is also sound-absorbent, natural and warm. In the words of one starting entrepreneur: the calmness falls over you in here.
Plus Ultra was awarded the ARC16 detail award and nominated for BNA “Best Building of the Year” award and the European Architecture Awards.
This was partially thanks to the building’s strong identity: we managed to create a timeless structure on a relatively low budget using austere materials. A building that, because of its idiosyncratic architecture, doesn’t get boring and brings its diverse users together. It is powerful on the inside and classic but modern on the outside.
The building is heated and cooled by solar-powered heat pumps. In the summer, heating is limited by slatted screens adapted to the building’s orientation. The slow-moving rays of sunlight on the floors act as a kind of sundial, connecting users to the rhythm of the day.