Peace, Justice & Sustainability

Excellent room acoustics promote concentration and clear communication

Heradesign acoustic panels make the AvB Tower in The Hague a sound success.

It is a whole new experience for the students of Leiden University College in The Hague. From the winter semester 2013 they no longer only study in the newly opened, 72 metre high AvB Tower but also live there in luxury, in nearly 400 apartments on the upper floors of the tower. On the floors below entrance hall, corridors, study areas and the Grand Café have been combined to create an open-plan study landscape. Acoustically, this proved to be a big challenge for the architects from Studio RTM. There was the danger that talking and other noise would combine to become an unbearable din. That students can concentrate on their work everywhere and talk at a normal volume, is all thanks to the wood wool ACOUSTIC PANELS fine from Heradesign. These scored with the architects not only for their good sound absorption values, but also for their design, size flexibility and ease of handling.

In The Hague, the international capital of justice and peace, a scientific institution has existed since 1575, which is of world renown, and which is often mentioned in the same breath as the universities of Oxford and Cambridge: Leiden University College (LUC). In addition to the regular university, at which approx. 18,000 students are registered, there is an English language study institution which, under the motto of “knowledge for a better world”, focuses on the subjects of peace, sustainability and international law.

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At Leiden University College, 400 highflying graduates from all around the world address global challenges by tailoring the focus of their main studies to the topics of international law, cultural interaction and environmental sciences. Since this winter semester, the university has provided them with a brand new building, in which they work, live and can be part of a new form of community: the Anne-van-Bueren Tower (AvB Tower) designed by architect Wiel Arets.

While study areas, a Grand Café and a large lecture hall are located on the first five floors of the 21 storey building, on the remaining floors there are 396 student APARTMENTS with views of the skyline and the North Sea.

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INTERIOR DESIGN makes the university motto visible: peace, justice and sustainability

One of many competitors for the interior design of the AvB Tower, it was the Dutch architects RTM who won the approval of the university jury. The design concept underlines the exclusivity of the course of studies.

In the entrance hall, nearly all surfaces are white, so the indirect sunlight produces a light and inviting atmosphere. The ACOUSTIC INSULATION panels from Heradesign mounted on the ceiling create an interesting grey tone with their rough surface, which is a lively contrast.

At the same time, the ACOUSTIC PANELS are complemented by a second high performance design element, which has been used throughout – namely the toffee-coloured bamboo. It is present as a covering for the lockers, on the floors of the study rooms and on both the floor and ceiling of the large auditorium. The contrast to the lightly coloured FOLDING CHAIRS has an especially distinguished effect.

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However, the architects not only wanted to create an exclusive and modern ambience, but also to capture the three pillars of the university: peace, sustainability and international law. “For example, we planned to use the highest standard of environmentally-friendly materials, to demonstrate the idea of sustainability to visitors”, Ewoud Netten, INTERIOR DESIGNER at RTM, remembers. “In addition, we had the idea of covering the ceilings with famous quotations about justice and peace by important historical figures such as Socrates, Einstein and Spinoza, so that students and employees could identify with the building more strongly.”

The requirements of the ACOUSTIC INSULATION panels in the AvB Tower are diverse

“The search for suitable acoustic insulation panelswas difficult, because they had to have a whole series of attributes”, Netten explains. “On the one hand, we wanted a texture in which the nature of the material was still visible, so that the ceiling produced a natural ambience. On the other hand, the material had to be solid enough for quotes to be cut into it. At the same time, they had to muffle the acoustics in the rooms, meet the fire regulations and be available in a suitable size. With all these stipulations we were left with little choice. We finally found the model fine from Heradesign, a one-layer, 25 millimetre thick, magnesite bonded wood wool acoustic panel, with a fibre width of two millimetres and a nearly crude surface structure.

Heradesign manufactures exclusive panel sizes

The project made it necessary to use unusually large ACOUSTIC PANELS. “We therefore manufactured exclusive modules of 2580 x 625 millimetres, which corresponded exactly with the dimensions of the building, for this project”, Mischa Straver, Specification Manager at Heradesign Netherlands, explains. “The wood wool acoustic panels were mounted on the ceiling on a wooden grid supporting system. That was a further advantage for the interior designers. With no visible hangers, a monolithic impression of a one-piece material was attained.”

Surface of CEILING PANELS could even be written on with cutting equipment

Before installation, the quotes from famous philosophers were to be applied to the material. The question was whether the ceiling panels would bear up to the cutting.

“Working together with Heradesign was perfect from the beginning. The employees at Heradesign already supported us with their specialist knowledge in the design stage tests, where it was all about finding the right size of lettering, cutting depth and distance to the edges”, says Netten. The results were remarkable. “We were able to cut letters up to sixty centimetres high into the ceiling panels and thus manifest our intention of bringing a further layer of information into the building.” The texts (which were suggested by the students themselves by the way) are highly visible in the stairwell of the building.

Absorption performance of the ceiling panels provides ideal room acoustics

The corridors, study areas and the Grand Café in the AvB Tower are linked with each other to create an open-plan study landscape. This posed a special acoustic challenge for the interior designers. “We wanted people to be able to concentrate and communicate everywhere at a normal volume level. We didn’t want any loud din, as is unfortunately often usual in such spaces”, Netten remembers. “The ACOUSTIC PANELS from Heradesign have sound absorption values that make this possible: excellent acoustics in the entire building, which has already been complimented by many visitors.”

“We are proud to have been able to contribute to this great project.”

The fine acoustic panels from Heradesign now play their part in making the AvB Tower in The Hague one of the most modern buildings in the city. Since October 2013, around 400 students have been able to study and live in the modern ambience with great acoustics, and thanks to the peace quotes on the CEILING PANELS, always be reminded of their mission of “knowledge for a better world”. “We are very proud”, finishes Straver, “to have been able to contribute to this great and forward-looking project with our products.”

Information about Leiden University College The Hague (AvB Tower)

21 floors, 72 metres high and built of steel

Net floor space 24,500 square metres

Faculty, refectory and residential home under one roof: 396 student APARTMENTS on floors 6-21

Surrounded by a large pedestrian zone

Heradesign products

  • Entrance area, student lounge, Grand Café, study areas, lecture hall, work group rooms, offices: Heradesign fine (AK-01, bevelled edge), approx. 2,500 m², colour RAL 9010 white


Wiel Arets Architects (construction)

D’ Artagnanlaan 29

6213 CH Maastricht


Vijverhofstraat 47

3032 SB Rotterdam

About Leiden University College The Hague

The Leiden University College has existed since 2010 as an English language branch of Leiden University. About 400 high-achieving students study for the three-year BACHELOR degree of Liberal Arts & Sciences here. In the broadest sense, they deal with the global topics of peace, sustainability and international law. To ensure practical relevance, they link their newly acquired knowledge with real practical examples. In addition, in the new AvB Tower they experience a strong feeling of community, as the faculty and the hall of residence are combined under one roof.