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Linnaeusborg is a faculty building for the University of Groningen which has room for up to three research institutes and a training centre with auditoria, lecture theatres and practical facilities, laboratories, research areas, meeting rooms and offices. These include specialised biochemical laboratories, an MRI scanning facility, an isotopes lab, electron microscopes, animal facilities, aquariums and greenhouses. There is a cellar under most of the building. The building itself is 10 storeys high and has a total floor area of 36,000 m² (excluding the greenhouse complex). The client wanted a clear design providing dynamism, interaction and flexibility. When working out the zoning, account was taken of the interaction between laboratories, offices and support areas. By adding voids and cross-connections, vertical circuits are also created which link the different floors together. This openness makes it easy for users to find their way around the building. It is a light and lively whole that provides a pleasant working environment. The building is very efficient, both in terms of its architecture and its technical systems.

Architect Rudy Uytenhaak based his design on the metaphor of a frog reaching up. At the back and front, the building rests on legs with a large span in between. The structure was to be consistent with that metaphor. It was to represent a backbone whose ribs were to support the different floors. This concept was gradually changed during the design process. The ultimate structure consists of four vertical truss rafters at building height that run in the length-wise direction of the building with a length of approximately 130 metres. They are resting on transverse trusses, but at the extremities of the building the main rafters create an extended overhang. The transverse trusses rest on trapezium-shaped steel trestles that transfer their forces to steel tubular columns that absolutely were not allowed to be standing up straight. They had to be dancing. On this project ABT partnered with the Wassenaar firm as the construction consultant. This heavy construction not only made it possible to realise the special design, it also permitted the building to comply with the strict vibration requirements. The reason for this requirement is that the work performed in this building involves very sensitive microscopes. This is why the vibration criteria are four times as strict in comparison to regular buildings. The structure, just like the technical installations inside, is characterised by fairly coarse industrial detailing. This is contrasted by the fine detailing of the rest of the interior. The construction of the building did not proceed particularly smoothly. This had everything to do with the building’s complexity and the strained market conditions at the time. Not only was Rudy Uytenhaak’s design complex, the project also included a range of new and fairly unfamiliar sustainable installation technologies, such as underground thermal energy storage and concrete core activation. Finally, the user imposed very high demands, for example, in terms of the permitted level of vibration in the building. The market was also strained at the time. For example, there was a scarcity of steel because most of it was being transported to China. ABT also provided the management and supervision for this project. One of the intensive management phases was Uytenhaak’s façade concept with new glass fibre reinforced polyester plates, which were technically detailed to make them completely wind and watertight. Even at wind force 10.

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