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Université Olomouc

A new building at the Czech Republic’s Palacký University Olomouc

On the campus of Palacký University Olomouc, the Czech Republic’s second oldest university, a green glow emanates from the ground floor of its newest building. The architects from Atelier M1 Architekten have designed a clearly composed facility for the Faculty of Science. The ground floor’s tinted green windows produce the dramatic exterior lighting effect, above which rises a strictly structured façade. Homogeneously arranged windows reflect the surroundings and the sky, while shiny black stone cladding lends peace to the exterior.

The building’s construction forms the basis of a dynamic concept. Glazing deliberately accounts for no more than half of the façade’s surface area, thereby ensuring a stable interior temperature while taking full advantage of daylight as a lighting source. Furthermore, the ground and top floor windows are shaded. The building’s compact heavily insulated structure featuring storey ceilings made of in-situ concrete contribute to its pleasant indoor climate. As a result, two thirds of the building lacks the need for a climate control system.

Despite possessing well-balanced temperature variation, those large rooms which require being equipped with a climate control system due to their use as labs, conference and lecture halls were situated by the architects on the sunnier south-east wing. Even so, hybrid ventilation is possible, in that their windows may be opened when required. The smaller rooms are located in the naturally shaded north-west wing, where a climate control system is entirely unnecessary. “One of our key aims was to create a building that wasn’t permanently sealed, yet afforded constant temperatures using a climate control system,” explains Jan Hájek of Atelier M1 Architekten. “The building’s occupants really appreciate being able to open a window and enjoy the adjacent park.”

“We always try to integrate as much nature as possible into all of our concepts – even those set in urban environments. This is why we’ve minimized the building’s footprint in order to allow the rest of the plot to be used as public space – for a park and a meeting point.” In fact, the building only occupies 3,500 square meters (38,000 sq ft) of the 20,000 square-meter building plot (215,000 sq ft). The remaining land has been developed as green space.

The layout of the building takes the form of an elongated cross. Its welcoming center consists of a completely white atrium that also serves as a highly accessible meeting point. The architectural highlight of the interior is an intricate staircase that links all floors while offering fascinating views, both skyward through the glass ceiling and downward to the LED-lit floor. The glass parapets and stair railings lend elegance in combination with the atrium’s high-gloss white walls.

To afford easy visitor orientation, the architects developed a color-coding system, by which each floor is identified by a unique floor color. Matched to each floor color are wall graphics in an appropriate complimentary color depicting the works of renowned Czech typographers. In each case, the nature of the graphics correspondingly relate to that of the department. Hence, the walls of the mathematics department, for example, are graced with mathematical symbols. Forming the basis of this system are the colorful shades of DLW Linoleum flooring from Armstrong.

With a color system consisting of 56 tones, the resilient structure of Marmorette flooring offers virtually unlimited design possibilities. From a boldly bright yellow, a warm orange, a froggy green to a subtle light gray, the university’s campus now features DLW Linoleum flooring in a total of 15 different colors. In particularly sensitive areas, the dissipative version of this flooring product has been employed.

Furthermore, due to it being composed of natural, renewable raw materials, linoleum flooring is ideally suited to the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Jan Hájek’s statement regarding sustainability:
“We’re trying to raise the awareness of Czech property owners about sustainability, and that it’s more than a matter of greening the roofs of their buildings. It’s often a tremendous challenge, because many of the investing parties regard things like regenerative energy features only as cost factors or even simply as unnecessary frills. Sometimes, though, we manage to accomplish a great deal with measures that appear at first glance to be very simple.”

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