Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building
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Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building

Wageningen University and Research Centre, Atlas Building

Wageningen, Netherlands

2007 9,753 m²

Wageningen University and Research Center chose an agriculturally depleted field as the site for the Centrum de Born, its new, consolidated campus north of Wageningen, created in part to express the university’s developing commitment to environmental research. Rafael Viñoly Architects responded to this contextual challenge by creating an arresting structure that answered client specifications in innovative ways.

The structure’s form was developed through a series of dialogues with the university. Key programmatic needs were revealed with respect to the concept that lab configurations, experiments, and research initiatives are in constant flux. To address the transitory quality of research needs, laboratories can easily be converted into offices. Additionally, it was clear that circulation and common areas should be highlighted in the design. Further, with respect to urban planning, the university required a small building footprint and flexible partitioning, rejecting pavilion and outbuilding installations. To reflect a commitment to sustainability, a set of criteria was developed that called for user-controlled environments for lighting and temperature and utilized natural northern light to reduce HVAC expenditures. Building specifications demanded that the lowest level should hold a fully contained and controlled soil research laboratory, vibration-sensitive equipment, and climate-controlled labs, limiting floor arrangements and uses. In the final design, all of these constraints were addressed.

The Atlas Building is a flexible structure, perfectly suited to its current purpose and also prepared for change. The building’s precast concrete latticework doubles as a structural exoskeleton and renders it almost entirely column free. The application of a cube-shaped structure with central atrium maximizes floor use and creates a spacious perambulatory atmosphere without the loss of interior square footage. The dramatic 98-yard-long (89.6-meter) entrance ramp leads pedestrian traffic from campus pathways to the building’s main level. A vast skylit atrium encourages the creation of an interactive environment, invigorated through a series of pedestrian bridges that join the floor levels and functions.

“The building is a part of an overall composition that creates a holistic vision for this part of the campus,” notes Rafael Viñoly. “It resembles a trellis pavilion, hosting the science that studies nature and the sustainability of nature. This is one of the most important subjects we face today, representing a collective responsibility that this university leads with remarkable excellence.”