Black Box – Delft


BlackBox Delft

The black box was a temporary pavilion next to the school of architecture at TU Delft. Won as a competition, the pavilion was used to hold events and workshops when in use, and blend into the natural surroundings when not, blurring the man-made and the natural.


The BlackBox came about through a competition held at the TU Delft school of architecture. The team’s entry won the concept design competition, and the project was subsequently developed to be constructed next to the school.

The competition team

Early concept rendering

Seeking Alternatives

Looking at the campus environment of brutalist concrete boxes, the team wasn’t interested in simply adding to that type of built fabric, but wanted to create something which balanced out the natural and the man-made.

The BlackBox in the foreground in front of the TU Delft School of Architecture

Site & Relationships

The team sought opportunities which included natural elements all around the site, one of which was a neglected water source. The idea was formed to create a symbiotic relationship between the building and the natural by using the water to water a living facade, and in doing so the facade would filter the water in the pond.

Site plan

The BlackBox with the living door open

Pioneering Facade

At the time, living facade systems were not commonplace in architecture, and so the team developed and tested mock-ups of their own systems in their dormitory rooms.

Early mock-ups for the pioneering living wall system

Facade system layering

Symbiotic relationships circulation diagram

Seasonal Changes

The facade was planted using different types of plants to create a living surface which changed its image according to the seasons.

Seasonal changes in the living wall planting

Seasonal changes in the living wall planting

East elevation planting plan

Early concept rendering

Interior/Exterior Relationship

The box was intended to close up and blend into its surroundings when not in use, and open up the large living door to the exterior when hosting functions. The interior space was designed to be completely flexible to host various different activities.

Construction planning

Exposed timber interior


A large portion of the construction was prefabricated off-site using timber for the structure and walls, before being covered in the living wall. The team insisted on using timber, as the only truly renewable building resource.

Erection of the structural wall panels

South facade being hoisted into place

Construction detailing

End of Life & Publication

The life cycle of the pavilion came to an end after a fire accident, but the memory is retained through the numerous publications covering the pavilion. The publication of the pavilion made Martijn the youngest ever designer to be featured in the prestigious A+U Magazine at the age of 19.

Team: Martijn de Geus, Philip Mannaerts and collaborators
Supervision by: Ulrich Knaack, Herman Prast, Luning Engineers

Client: Stylos, TU Delft

Project Year: 2009

Location: Delft, Netherlands