BIG designs Makers’ KUbe in Kansas
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Makers’ KUbe: a sustainable structure for the University of Kansas

This study and teaching hub will be built with mass timber and connected to two existing buildings, Marvin and Chalmers Halls, by glazed walkways

BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG designs Makers’ KUbe in Kansas
By Editorial Staff -

BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group is creating this new project for, and in collaboration with, University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design, with BNIM as executive architect. A mass timber structure titled Makers’ Kube, the building is designed for education and teaching, and grew out of collaboration between architects, students, teachers, and the university itself.

A distinctive feature of this project is its combination of preservation, adaptive reuse, and new construction. Each intervention involves one of the three buildings that make up the complex, all of which will be interconnected by transparent walkways: the historic Marvin Hall, built in 1908, whose historic façade has been preserved; Chalmers Hall, 1978, which has been renovated to maximize the amount of natural light inside; and the new Makers’ KUbe, a six-story volume to be built using sustainable materials.

 

Makers' KUbe: inspired by Japan

Modello di studio Model by and courtesy of BIG

Resembling a timber cube, Makers’ KUbe features a diagrid frame engineered by StructureCraft. The façade, reminiscent of a large chessboard, alternates transparent and opaque glass sections with biodegradable hemp wool insulating panels for improved thermal performance. Influenced by traditional Japanese joinery, the building employs glulam to create an all-timber structure without steel plates or fasteners.

Organized around a central area, the interior of the building has multifunctional spaces, including study areas, 3D printing and robotics labs, and a café at ground level.

The building’s massing is rotated to align with Wescoe Drive and the surrounding buildings, allowing more light and air to enter the existing structures. Winter garden bridges connect the three buildings, while also encouraging exchange between students and staff. Canopied entrances at the ground-level corners of the cube connect the building to the outdoors. On the upper levels, the corners have terraces with views over the city.

 

A campus for the future

Makers' KUbe - BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group Render by Kilograph, courtesy of BIG

A feature of BIG’s design for the University of Kansas is its keen focus on sustainability. By using timber to reduce the carbon footprint, the project preserves existing spaces while introducing new systems for harnessing energy from renewable sources, including photovoltaic panels and rainwater storage, to create a complex with low environmental impact.

 

>>> Architecture With: the theme of the 2024 Obel Award

 

 

Credits

Location: Kansas, United States
Gross Floor Area: 16,608.75 m²
Client: University of Kansas
Architect: BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group

Executive Architect: BNIM
Structural Consultant: StructureCraft

All images courtesy of BIG

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