Granite® HDX: an elegant and shiny facade for the Arcus College campus in Heerlen

The Arcus College campus in Heerlen, Netherlands was conceived as a Venetian square with six semi-circular training buildings. With ArcelorMittal's Granite® HDX precoated steel for the buildings' facades, the architect achieved the unique combination of colour and finish the customer required, but at a significantly lower cost.

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Architectural design: creating unity in diversity

The Venetian square of the new Arcus Campus, designed by IAA Architecten, consists of six organic shaped buildings connected on their ground floors below street level and arranged around two patios separated by a theatre. The architectural concept was a response to the natural conditions of the site: a height difference of 4 m between the access street and the actual construction site had to be taken into consideration.

A landscaped platform leads from Valkenburgerweg into the campus and connects the six buildings visually on the street level. Towards the centre, a monumental orange structure marks the access to the stairs of the entrance patio which leads down to the ground level where the main entrance to the buildings is located. On this level, the buildings are connected through common spaces like the cafeteria. The outdoor area plays a central role on the campus: it is a place for the students to meet and exchange and at the same time constitutes the connecting element that unites the buildings and converts them into a village.

The six buildings, each of which houses a different educational programme, vary in shape and in the colour of their window frames, whereas the steel facades and the green roofs provide them with a certain unity. Each building has two floors above street level and the common ground floor. The buildings are flooded with natural light as each floor opens up towards the entrance halls that cover the whole building height.

Granite® HDX: unmatched garantee & living colour

IAA Architecten initially designed the building to be completed in a gold-coloured aluminium facade which is highly fashionable, but found everywhere across the Netherlands. Instead, Jack Muller BV, a leading steel service centre in the Netherlands, proposed a truly unique solution – ArcelorMittal’s Granite® HDX in a champagne-gold finish.

Granite® HDX comes with a guarantee of up to 35 years thanks to its 55 micron coating. “This guarantee was highly attractive to both IAA Architecten and the customer and could not be matched by the proposed aluminium solution,” notes Anita van Stiphout, commercial manager at Jack Muller BV which sourced the Granite® HDX coils from ArcelorMittal and cut them into sheets. Jack Muller BV then sent the cut sheets to ZND Nedicom who arranged for them to be finished in Germany.

The high-quality painting system used to create Granite® HDX is designed for roofing, cladding, and architectural applications in harsh climatic or environmental conditions. This robustness made it possible to give the panels a finish which mimics standing seams but provides the building with its own identity.

Each panel was created in a complex pressing operation. “The architect chose this look to create a unique design,” says Jack Muller, director and owner of Jack Muller BV. “It was created in a single step by a specialised company in Germany. The resulting long lines look like they are reaching for the sky, emphasising the strength and height of the buildings.” The lines also give the panels uniformity, further reinforcing the cohesive look across the entire site.

Another factor that swung the decision in favour of Granite® HDX was cost explains Coen van Gorp, key account manager for ArcelorMittal in the Netherlands: “Normally when someone proposes an alternative material to an architect it is more expensive, but the Granite® HDX solution we suggested was more cost effective.”

Colour flexibility was also very important for the architect. The champagne-gold colour used to coat the Granite® HDX changes subtly in different lights, adding complexity to the building facade. “It’s a living colour, not a flat metallic surface,” notes Glenn Muller, chief technical officer. “The colour had to be created by ArcelorMittal, so it was completely unique and makes the Arcus College campus stand out. The architect and builder ZND Nedicom only approved the finish after the third colour match.”

“Everyone is impressed by the colour and the material,” notes Coen van Gorp. “That was only possible thanks to the magnificent teamwork between all parties involved.” It’s a sentiment that is echoed by Glenn Muller: “The architect would not have opted for Granite® HDX without the support of ArcelorMittal, Jack Muller BV, and ZND Nedicom. We are very proud to have been involved in creating such a beautiful, practical, and durable building.”


The campus is designed according to the highest requirements of sustainability. An important criteria was not only the durability of the campus and its installations, but also the quest to keep its environmental footprint as low as possible. Therefore, the campus is equipped with thermal panels for the heating of water, water-reuse installation, and rain collecting ponds for the irrigation of the green spaces. Floor heating is incorporated into the pre-cast concrete slabs for the winter while in summer natural air ventilation is used to cool the buildings.

The Arcus campus also benefits from the Minewater Project Heerlen, an essential part of the municipality's Sustainable Energy Structure Plan. It consists of the conversion of the area's old coal mines into a geothermal power station using the mine waters for the heating and cooling of buildings based on the principle of energy exchange.

The campus: flexibility for the future

The new campus of the Arcus College, a regional provider of vocational training in Limburg, was designed to meet the challenges of contemporary vocational education, anticipating future developments in this field and creating an optimised learning environment for a new generation of students.

Between 3000 and 4000 students are taking courses on the new campus, which offers a total surface of 36 000 m2. Due to the nature of the programmes, flexible working spaces and classrooms, modern information and communication technologies, and state-of-the-art equipment for in-school trainings and practical simulation were an important requirement for the new building.

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