We were fortunate last week to have Michael Christensen, Creative Director and Founding Partner of Christensen & Co., give us a tour of some of their projects at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). One of these projects, the DTU Compute building, is an anomaly within the IIT-inspired campus of low brick buildings. This is a cutting edge research facility fostering future learning methods and a site of architectural experimentation, all the while being a highly sustainable computer laboratory environment.
The panelized exterior of sleek white glass and aluminum and the skylights above allow the entire building to be flooded with natural light from all sides. At ground level twenty-two trees are planted in the interconnected open study areas, with their heights reaching the upper level offices. The windows also provide a visual connection to the surrounding campus, thus blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior. We observed both students and staff using the various open spaces, and it was evident that they favoured this building compared to others on campus for its natural light, openness and indoor air quality.
One of the key sustainability elements is its hybrid ventilation system, which helps to stabilize the indoor climate in a building that requires a high number of indoor air changes per hour. For natural ventilation, windows on the façade at ground level and the skylights are computer-controlled, to allow for a cooling, stack effect that allows air to enter and exhaust through the atrium ceiling. Underground earth tubes also collect air from the campus grounds and temper it prior to being conditioned in the building. We learned that this combination of systems results in a mere 18% of the normal energy consumption for ventilation for a building of this type and size!