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Creating an icon - Interview
with the architects

UNStudio, located in Amsterdam, and Quant Architects from Eindhoven, have signed to design Elysion Convention Center and the masterplan for Van der Valk Hotel Eindhoven. They have translated the client’s wishes with regard to logistics and transformed these into an iconic landscape adjacent to the Brainport Avenue. Here, Gerard Loozekoot (UNStudio) and Kasper Dun (Quant) discuss this venture.

Gerard: “At the Elysion Convention Center the guests are the central focus point. The iconic and main architectural gestures, such as the atriums and vertical foyers, support this aim. As a result, a range of distinctive and exceptional spaces arise. Throughout the complex a large amount of people frequent the building to attend either congresses or conferences. They can stay overnight at the hotel, but also use it as a temporary working spot or transfer location. Coming from the high-tech parks, the sports facilities and the city, guests also visit to have lunch or dinner. Together with the guests from the hotel, a vibrant landscape of visitors and congress attendees is created."

The entrance park
Kasper: “The landscape design of the mobility hub is envisioned as a park. Besides an indoor park landscape, the entrance area is the perfect space to sit and have an informal meeting. The unique experience begins as soon as you enter the complex walking from the bus stop, or when you drive through the grounds. The main entrance is clearly visible and attracts visitors to the building, while the hallway gives access to the congress, business center, restaurant or hotel. The entrance hall has a large and naturally lit atrium with an inviting “social"stairway which promotes interaction and leads to the first floor. This is where the vertical foyer begins.”

The vertical foyer
Gerard: “The vertical foyer and the ‘vertical garden’ are exquisite, connecting elements within the Elysion Convention Center. This garden, which is at height of 30 metres, functions as a filter purifying the air, but is also an eyecatcher and a conversation piece for visitors. Eyes are led upwards over the staircases and the people within the space. Through three separate atriums, daylight falls on the vertical garden and creates a play between light and green, giving visitors the illusion that inside is outside. It is a garden where encounters can occur and vitality is stimulated. A recurring element within the foyer is the broad wooden railing of the staircase. It is designed to be easily leaned upon, or to enjoy your cup of coffee on, while standing in one of the borders. In this way, a high table of over hundred metres long is created and provides another element that contributes to an inviting atmosphere for informal encounters. But also, to the condition of seeing and being seen.”

Kasper: “Various seating areas are located adjacent to the foyer, where visitors can work in silence or join in conversations with others. The atmosphere of the lounge area is varied, creating specific spaced for everyone to comfortably meet one another or peacefully work. This Café Cinema Parisien has the feel of a homely living room, with its fireplaces and an old neon sign from a former local movie theatre as an eyecatcher. A more active atmosphere is created at the kitchen table in an atelier concept lounge, perfect for a brainstorm session and group gatherings. Each concept has its own bars, some with comfortable chesterfields sofas, others with a more industrial or design character. Unity in diversity is the theme in the spaces around the vertical foyer in order to monotony without being disruptive.

Throughout the circulation areas art, technology and design are displayed. Art shows can be organized on the internal walls of Elysion in collaboration with local museums. Currently there is already an established cooperation with the Van Abbe Museum; contemporary exhibitions from their collection are shown in a mobile display designed by Piet Hein Eek. The atmosphere of the vertical foyers will also be enhanced by light installations and objects by designers, such as the ‘Reflecting Holons’ by Martens & Visser. Mesmerizing, kinetic objects that reflect light and colour like giant soap bubbles within the greens of the vertical garden. The purpose of such interventions is to make the pathways attractive while simultaneously inviting interaction.”

Gerard: “But above all else, the iconic qualities of the Elysion Convention Center will inspire visitors! In terms of urban development, we strived for a high-end composition, comprising an elongated plinth within a lush green setting and a park landscape on the roof. The plinth, with its park-like appearance, seeks a clear connection to the Genneper Parken. Next to it are two high pillars of the hotel towers. They serve as urban icons, marking the entrance to the city, as well as the location of the mobility hub. Spatially they create a connection to the high-rises in the city center. Because the location is situated higher than the center, the towers will appear even higher from the city than they actually are. Finally, there is a spectacular cantilevered volume: the auditorium. This expansive volume refers with a nod to the Evoluon, but exudes technology and innovation. The experimentation and the bravoure of the project are made visible for everyone to see!”

“Eindhoven from a bird’s eye view: Sky line auditorium view.”
The city of Eindhoven enters the auditorium through the transparent façade in the stage hall. Visitors and attendees can behold the city, while the ever expanding skyline of Eindhoven creates an inspirational view. It also creates a clear sense as to where and in which city one is. When using the auditorium as a drinks or break-out setting, the night-time skyline provides a relevant and exquisite décor.