From now on you can study in Echo

Since Monday, May 30, students and teachers are able to make use of Echo. “It is good to see that working groups are already meeting here.”

By the time the new academic year starts the catering facilities will be fully operational. (Photos: Justyna Botor)

In the entrance hall of the new inter-faculty Echo academic building, 10 bar tables have been pushed together. Nearby, facility staff members are unpacking two trolleys full of indoor plants. All of this happens to the beat of a drum and percussion band practising in the background. “Today is the official opening,” explains Kübra Özturk of Campus and Real Estate (CRE). As the Project Manager, she has been involved in the building and completion of Echo since October 2018. On the morning of the opening, Delta accompanied her on a round of the brand new corridors, study areas and lecture halls.

One striking feature were the large windows that allow in plenty of light. Dozens of bamboo structures and blue felt walls and panels jump out. Özturk explains that Echo is as sustainable as possible. This entailed using a lot of sustainable and circular materials. “The blue felt – that we have used in almost all the rooms for good acoustics – is made of recycled PET bottles. Echo is not only sustainable, but its hundreds of solar panels on the roof supply energy.”

Buitenkant Echo

The academic building has seven lecture halls and 360 study places. The spaces can be adapted to various teaching and study methods and needs. The largest lecture hall can seat 700 people divided into three separate halls. CRE has mostly used grid floors made of sustainable material. “This means that the cables can be moved easily and the study space rearranged in case the needs of future education are different from what they are now.”

“The building is entirely wheelchair accessible,” continues Özturk. “The study space on the ground floor, for example, has a ramp for wheelchairs and wheelchair users can use the lift to go to the other floors. All the teaching areas have also been arranged to allow extra space, such as next to lecture benches, and special places for wheelchair users where they can sit.”

Even the smallest detail has been thought about. CRE ordered particular colour hues from the bamboo supplier so that the colour contrast would not be too big. “It would otherwise not look as calm as it does now.” CRE also used test groups for other furnishings. “Students tested three trial arrangements of lecture benches for aspects such as legroom and seating comfort.” 

Hoekje Echo

On the Monday morning of the opening, the first students start entering the building. Some of them have found the sitting areas and are drinking coffee. “Have you seen the big lecture hall? Great, isn’t it?” one of them calls out to Delta’s photographer. Others are in discussion in the spaces for project groups. Özturk looks on with satisfaction. “It is good to see that working groups are already meeting here.”

Are you curious about what the building looks like inside? Check out the photos below (and make sure to take a look while you’re on campus).

Education space for group work

Collegezaal voor groepswerk

Each lecture hall is designed for a specific type of teaching. There are classic lecture halls as well as spaces for debates and group learning. “This hall is primarily intended for students to work in groups and where the teacher only gives instruction once in a while.” There is also a blackboard in the hall. “The teachers insisted on having blackboards because their colleagues at Harvard also still work with blackboards,” says Özturk. “Mathematics teachers often tell us that blackboards are a lot more effective than smartboards. They see that students learn formulas better if they write the formulas down instead of showing them on slides.”

Brand new study places 

Studieruimte Echo

Echo has about 360 study places in the A, B and C categories. Özturk explains what these mean. “Category A is for working in silence. B is for working in groups on projects. You can discuss the project and write on the whiteboards. Category C is the area in and around the catering facilities. You can chat there and will hear people talking around you.”

Refurbished furniture

Meubels Echo

“These chairs were originally in an ING Bank office. They were bright orange and we gave them a new look. At least 90% of the furniture in Echo is refurbished. It is the first time that we are using so many refurbished pieces of furniture in one building.”

The ‘700 lecture hall’ 

Grootste collegezaal Echo

The largest lecture hall is also called ‘The 700 hall’. In just 15 minutes the blue panels can be rearranged to create two or three smaller rooms. “A group of staff members travelled specially to England to test them in a similar space and to draw lessons from them,” says Özturk. “Until the very last minute, we did not know if the system would work here at TU Delft as the walls were supposed to be completely soundproof. Luckily everything passed the sound test.

Bicycle parking 

Fietsenstalling Echo

TU Delft’s Safety and Security Department Department was involved in designing the bicycle parking place in the basement. “To make sure that the space is socially safe.”

News editor Annebelle de Bruijn

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