LAB42 is an accessible and transparent building where staff, students and the business community can all feel at home – a lively and inspirational environment that brings together research, teaching and value creation in the information sciences. Given its innovative character, scientific relevance and pioneering research, LAB42 provides a home for rising talent and merits a unique design. ‘With its mix of workplaces, storage rooms, a library, laboratories, clubs and offices, this is much more than just a “science block”, as it seems like anything is possible here.’
On 31 October, the Executive Board of the UvA definitively awarded the construction of the new building at Amsterdam Science Park to Benthem Crouwel Architects. The architects presented a soundly based design vision which also offers enough freedom for creating a building that will tie in with the goals of the University of Amsterdam and the various building users.
When selecting the architects and consultants (the Design Team), the UvA was required to follow the European procurement rules. On the basis of the vision, action plan, building company and circularity, in combination with the costs, Benthem Crouwel Architects then proved to be the unanimous choice from the proposals submitted.
Studio Groen+Schild will be responsible for the interior design. The design team also comprises the construction consultancy firm Strackee Bouwadviesbureau, the building installation services consultancy firm Deerns and the building physics consultancy firm DGMR.
The overarching interior theme in the design is tech & nature. Tech represents our degree programmes and institutions, and we opted for nature because greenery is a universal need and contributes to a healthy and pleasant work environment.
The look and feel we are aiming to create is fresh, light and warm. The building will have plenty of daylight that, in combination with greenery, ensures a pleasant building in which everyone enjoys spending time. At the same time, the use of colour and materials will create a warm ambience. The variety of spaces and ambiences will ensure that the building’s various zones are clearly recognisable. The building is practical and multifunctional in its use and the design and interior are tailored to this.
On the ground floor, you will first encounter the foyer. The foyer will invite people to come into the building. It will be a space with lots of natural light from which you can look into the building. Here, you will find the large open atrium and student rooms where users can meet.
‘We know there will be plenty of greenery in the lounge and common rooms in order to create a perfect meeting place and separate the various study places. We're even assessing whether we can install a green wall in the central hall, along with a large video wall. That would be a great combination between tech and nature.’ Heleen Verlinde, LAB42 interior project manager
The teaching rooms, lecture rooms and study places will be located on the first and second floors. The teaching rooms will be flexible and multifunctional. All the rooms will have sufficient daylight, which contributes to a healthy learning environment. The design will encourage activity and will be colourful. The layout and furnishings will enable active learning.
Although the study places differ in terms of atmosphere, appearance and experience, they clearly convey the function for which they are intended. A high-intensity study space will create an atmosphere in which it is clear from the outset that silence is required. All spaces must be comfortable and have a power socket!
‘The indoor greenery provides positive associations with well-being, health, relaxation and an optimal environment for work and for studying. Additionally, it contributes to a pleasant indoor climate by taking up humidity from the air. The central core fans out from storey to storey from the ground floor upwards, passing from the more sociable central zone to reach increasingly quiet spaces. Spaces for concentrated work in peace and privacy are located on the periphery. The structure provides a learning environment on every floor in which users feel fully at ease and can work in comfort.’ Heleen Verlinde, LAB42 interior project manager
The meeting rooms, offices for SMEs and lounge areas where people can meet will be located on the higher floors. LAB42 will be constructed in such a way that each floor will have Discovery, Meeting and Concentration zones. There will be coffee corners and common rooms and, the higher up you go, the greater the concentration of office spaces. The top floors of the building will be reserved for the offices of the Informatics Institute and the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the Faculty of Science.
The office environment is designed for concentrated working. Comfortable, characterful spaces in a calm environment are conducive to this. You can come up with ideas or share information with each other on writable walls. Colleagues must be able to concentrate on their work without being interrupted by noise in the corridor or from the common rooms. Consequently, good acoustics are essential. Soft, warm materials help to achieve this.
The ‘Meeting zone’, which can be used for both formal and informal meetings, also includes space for chatting over a coffee. The third area will be a dynamic route between the two permanent zones. The emphasis here is on cross-pollination (Discovery) between the various disciplines.
The design pays particular attention to the design and layout of the common rooms. The common rooms must facilitate meeting and a good atmosphere is conducive to this. Work groups were closely involved in the choices made during the design process, to ensure that the environment created meets everyone’s requirements.
There will be scope for co-creation on the third floor. Here, all users will be able to meet each other and especially visitors and partners. It is clear from the change in atmosphere that you are entering the co-creation zone. The atmosphere can best be described as a combination of office and creative space. The professional, business-like appearance of an office environment, combined with the creative side of entrepreneurship.