The Technical University Eindhoven as it was then known started life in the Paviljoen, just like most of TU/e's later departments. Which makes it TU/e's very first building. The university is investigating whether a piece of it - surrounding the main entrance and the 'indoor pond' and the pavilions - can be preserved. “In terms of cultural history, that part has the most value,” says Bert Verheijen of Real Estate Management (DH).
TU/e is discussing the matter with its own Quality Committee, the Van Abbe Foundation and the Stichting Wederopbouw Eindhoven (which protects cultural heritage during reconstruction), tells Verheijen, “but no firm decisions have as yet been taken”. Nor has a deadline been fixed, he believes, although the university is keen to avoid the building standing vacant for too long. “Before you know it, squatters or others will have started using it.”
In early 2019 at any rate, various pipelines and systems will be emptied, shut down or disconnected. Before then, the hot water supply for the Multimediapaviljoen, which stands opposite, must be up and running because that building currently depends on the boilers in the Paviljoen.
At that stage TU/e’s very first building (intended at the time as temporary accommodation) will be ripe for the sledge hammer, but one used cautiously. “We want to demolish the Paviljoen in a circular way. This means we'll disassemble the building and aim to reuse in another project as much as we can of the materials this releases,” explains Verheijen. “As a rule, an architect creates a design, then sets about sourcing the materials. With circular construction it's the other way round.”
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For this project, which is still in its initial stages, Real Estate Management is cooperating with several university parties: the Department of the Built Environment, student team CASA, TU/e innovation Space and the Quality Committee. “We want mainly to enthuse as many people as possible, to swap ideas, and bring together practice and education.”
All the Paviljoen's materials with potential for reuse have now been reviewed and mapped. “The starting point is not, ‘What can't we use?’, but ‘What can we use?’ This makes you look differently at a building due for demolition.”
According to Erwin Kerkhof, sustainability advisor at Real Estate Management, a diverse range of construction materials is involved - from steel structures to frames, internal doors and parts of wooden floors. “A concrete foundation isn't something you can simply make to measure using waste materials, but you can recycle as much as possible of those waste materials - and, say, reclaim the cement from the concrete. You would need some scientific and construction creativity to do this, though.”
Taking 'demolition waste’ as the starting point, the idea is that a new building will be designed and in time realized on the campus. Both where the building will stand and its purpose are still open to debate.: “The project is only in the preliminary phase and the detailed instructions still need to be drafted,” says Kerkhof. “It could be a completely self-sufficient building, a living lab for students and researchers, or a lecture hall with plenty of room for education innovation. The possibilities are wide open.”
According to the member of the Real Estate team, circular construction is the future, “in thirty years' time we'll know nothing else”. The demolition of the Paviljoen offers, he believes, an excellent opportunity to establish an inspiring model project on the university's own grounds. “Circular construction is already happening elsewhere, but with a particular eye on the future reuse of materials. In this project, conversely, it is the use of materials from the past that forms the innovative aspect; from buildings that represent a certain value, from which we are keen to throw away as little as possible.”
What will happen to the site that becomes available, where for over six decades the Paviljoen stood, is still unclear. According to Verheijen, the university is talking to several parties about different options, all of which must offer TU/e added value - not least in financial terms. Project development by third parties is an option, as is relocating the sports fields now in the north-west corner, or a combination of these two plans.
Where those sports fields are currently situated could become the site of a new build. “Economically speaking, this site might be more appealing to a project developer, but relocating the - still good - sports fields would require a certain amount of investment. The options will have to be weighed up carefully. We also want to redevelop the Paviljoen site in such a way that it does justice to the location, among green surroundings, next to the River Dommel.”