Architects: Rudy Uytenhaak and Marco Romano
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Completion date: June 2009
Client: University of Amsterdam
Type: Faculty building
Area: 34,000 sqm
Photographs: Pieter Kers
Amsterdam Faculty of Science
Unity in diversity
The new building for the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam is the product of a unique collaboration between the architecture bureaus Architecture Studio HH (section A and renovation of buildings), Meyer and Van Schooten Architects (section B) and Rudy Uytenhaak Architecture Bureau (sections C and D, and coordinating architect).
The university’s ambition to create a large, welcoming and above all individualistic and differentiated building was the main reason for the selection in 2001 of the three architects following an international competition that was won by the Uytenhaak bureau. The basic principle for the design of the complex of buildings is the encounter and exchange between all parts of the faculty. This is reflected in the motto of the design: ‘the articulation of interaction’.
The new faculty building, which houses an extensive complex of teaching areas, general facilities, offices and laboratories, forms the heart of the Amsterdam Science Park, which will incorporate a number of science-related businesses in addition to the university.
Building interwoven with structure of Science Park
The new Faculty of Science building stands at right angles to the main structure of the urban development plan, so emphasising the building’s central position in the Science Park. The building is raised up above open ‘polder strips’, allowing the public space to be freely extended and interweaving the faculty building with the structure of the Science Park.
The two semi-enclosed inner courtyards, with the entrance hall between them, form a public space that connects the two ‘polder strips’. Sections A, B and D, which mainly offer premises for laboratories, each have individual identities. The elongated, ‘floating’ section C, where the offices are located, connects these sections and makes the building a unified whole, while also giving it a certain monumental quality
Section C, entrance, teaching and offices
Light penetrates deep into the building
The centrally located section C houses a number of public and teaching facilities on the ground and first floors, as well as extensive facilities on the upper storeys. From the ‘polder strips’, the heart of the building – the central hall – is entered via one of the courtyards. The main public functions, such as the restaurant and the lecture theatres, are placed around this central hall. An imposing stairway gives access to the study centre situated on the first floor.
The colour of the paving of the courtyards is reprised in the natural stone floor of the entrance hall, so emphasising its public character. From this floor rises a striking volume containing the porters’ lodge and an espresso bar with individual identifying colours. The lecture theatres are differentiated by their waved cladding of ash wood slats, some of which merge into seating elements. On the office storeys, light colours and transparent and translucent materials are used to create a light and fresh working environment.
Above the entrance hall, and at the points of contact of the four sections of the building, large openings allow daylight to penetrate deep into the building. Numerous diagonal sightline relationships between offices, labs and teaching functions are also created at these points. In this way the upper and lower storeys are linked, giving the building its characteristic spacious feel.
The abundant entry of natural light, the compact dimensions of the building and the use of concrete core activation (under-floor heating and cooling) in combination with underground heat and cold storage, together with the flexibly interchangeable layout of the offices and laboratories, ensure that the faculty building is also environmentally friendly.
The facade of section C has been given a light and open character. The borders of the floors are accentuated with the use of bands of natural stone (travertine), which also emphasise the length of the floor. Between them, recessed window openings alternate with projecting screen-printed glass panels. The effect of depth created in this way, together with the repetition of the pattern on the different storeys, creates a layered and dynamic facade.
Offices and layout
A mix of enclosed office units and open workstations
The offices on the second to fourth floors are situated around two courtyards, creating circuits rather than continuous corridors. These storeys feature a mix of enclosed office units and flexibly interchangeable open workstations. The office furniture has been specially designed for this project by our bureau.
The open workstations can be divided into office suites for four to six persons that are semi-enclosed by tall cabinets. The layout of the suites is adapted to the work to be carried out in them, and varies from ‘concentration suites’ to ‘interaction suites’. The cabinets are double-sided, and include shelves, lockers and whiteboards. The creation of a variety of working environments by means of moveable layout elements provides a high degree of flexibility. A sustainable finishing material of solid bamboo has been used for the cabinets, desks and meeting tables.
The office spaces are open workstations featuring concrete core activation, and therefore do not have hanging ceilings, so giving these areas additional height. The installations are concealed in the corridor zone or sunk into the floor. In the corridor ceiling, the many facilities required – such as sprinklers, cameras, speakers, lighting and emergency lighting – are integrated into a narrow service zone, so that the main area of the ceiling, with its perforated and corrugated finish, is kept free of intrusive installation elements. By dealing with the installations in this way, they have in fact been the catalyst for an elegant architectural solution. Common rooms have been positioned at various points between the office areas. We have designed these communal areas for the various user groups on the basis of the requirements of the users concerned.