There's nothing quite so conducive to learning as an inspiringly gorgeous learning environment. Mirck Architecture, of the Netherlands, have taken this simple fact into account in renovating this 15th Century canal house in Leiden. Now used as an annex for the International Tax Centre in Leiden, the building has found a new lease of life as the site of lectures for postgraduates studying tax-related subjects at Leiden University.
Devastated by fire, it once seemed that this stunning building might have come to the end of its useful life. But it was only the interior that had been destroyed; the outside of the building remained as perfect as ever. The challenge that Mirck Architecture faced was to renovate the damaged interior and update the building where necessary, while at the same time preserving the historical charm of the building's shell.
As these striking images show, it's a challenge they've more than risen to. Let's take a look at the evidence.
This new addition to the original building features a semi-transparent overlay made of a fine metal mesh. This lends a shadowy and mysterious appearance to the structure, shielding the external staircase (just visible going up from the ground floor to the first) and masking the large amounts of glass that account for large areas of the walls and roof of the building itself.
The peaked form of the mesh section mimics the traditional silhouette of a simple house, just like one a child might draw. This is a playful feature to include in a risky design such as this one.
A closer look reveals the exact makeup of that shadowy overlay.
Seen in the evening, and from this angle, the sharp geometric shapes of the extension really come into clear focus. The contrast with the warm yellow glow the the interior lights, meanwhile, adds a whole new dimension to this design.
Using floor-to-ceiling glass panels all along the entrance to the building more than males up for any light lost to the mesh overlay on some parts of the exterior.
No matter what their content or style of delivery might be like, lectures in this wonderful auditorium would be well worth attending. The environment alone provides reason enough. The pale colour scheme of the walls and floor,and the bright natural light that floods the space, both contribute to the striking contrast that the vibrant red seats provide.