Dec 2016 - Stimulating educational buildings

Learning from educational buildings

There is nothing more fun and more instructive than visiting the building site with each other. Safety shoes and helmets on, eyes wide open and a smile from ear to ear. You can fill a traineeship with the best trainings and knowledge-sharing processes, but nothing beats a day with your feet in the mud and seeing in practice what is being made from your 3D models, sketches and drawings. The visit to the two buildings of the Hogeschool Utrecht (HU) that are currently being rebuilt - a Design & Build collaboration between contractor BAM and Inbo - could count on a lot of enthusiasm among our trainees. Lu Yu, trainee architect, who previously worked on the 3D model: "As a trainee it is super cool to see that my design is actually built. It is very motivating."

Our trainees come together on a regular basis to visit projects, talk with colleagues about their jobs and learn from each other. This time their trainee session was all about ‘creative engineering’ and execution. Robin Beers, engineering trainee, says: "Our 'homework' was to sketch details and think of solutions for MVRDV's apartment building Valley, which we then presented and discussed. Because we were with engineering, architectural and urban planning trainees you heard many different approaches and ways of thinking. That was interesting and fun to see." Jeanne Leung, architect trainee, complements: "Everyone learned from everyone. There were no wrong answers. We should do this more often."

Engineer Johan de Graaf discussed the details they made with them. By doing that, the realization occurred that creative engineering really is a profession on itself for which architectural knowledge, technical skills and creativity are needed. Jeanne: "Sometimes architects tend to make crazy and impossible designs and let the engineers just 'solve' it. As an architect it was therefore interesting to attend this workshop. It would be interesting to integrate both disciplines even more so that from the start it is clear what is possible and what is not."

Afterwards project leader Mark Bollen took the trainees on a tour to the HU buildings to show the considerations and technical (im)possibilities of the building practice. Sawing a void, is that even possible, and what about those installations? The right time in the process with the new spaciousness of the building becoming visible, while technical installations are not covered yet, made it extra fun and educational.

The enthusiasm of our trainees - whether they are designer, urban planner or engineer - is contagious. We sometimes tend to forget how fun and special it is to follow the realization of our ideas on site. Our intent for next year is therefore: visit building sites more often!

- Project Padualaan, the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

More information: Mark Bollen, Lianne Heusschen (pz); Robin Beers, Jeanne Leung, Lu Yu (trainees)