Linnaeusborg - faculty of Life Sciences

‘Linnaeusborg’ is the new building for the Centre for Life Sciences of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen. The design forms a component of the WEST8 urban development plan, in which Zernike College will be transformed from a technocratic outpost of the university into an Arcadian campus in a leafy setting. The building is situated on the eastern periphery of the Zernike complex, directly adjacent to the moat and the nature area beyond. Housing for animals is situated on the north side, with greenhouses and test beds to the south.

In relation to the extensive project as a whole, Linnaeusborg is a functionally determined building that, while it is large in scale, does not form an impenetrable mass. It opens up onto the campus, and is transparent and logical in its structure. The volume can be interpreted as a body that rises from the ground and partly vanishes in the perspective and the sloping ground level. The sightlines accentuate the open space rather than the mass of the building.

A ‘gate’ effect means that one looks through the building rather than at it. The three research fields of the Centre for Life Sciences are housed in two wings and a bridge that together form the upper part of the building. From the ground floor arises a zoology wing connected with the animal housing. The south wing, linked with the glasshouses, is dedicated to botany. Between them, on the building’s upper floors, the wings are ‘bridged’ by the microbiology and biotechnology departments.

*Interaction, dynamism, flexibility*

The basic principles for the internal organisation of the building are interaction, dynamism and flexibility. The upper part of the building is zoned, with laboratories and offices located in two facing areas. The efficiency and flexibility of this model are enhanced by the addition of a third zone incorporating a range of ancillary areas. Because ‘corridors’ are important in places where people work together, it is beneficial to construct the building in such a way that users can traverse it through a variety of circuits. With the addition of open areas and lateral connections in the centre of the relatively deep wings, vertical circuits between the storeys are also created. Light from above through the open areas and views of the sky, ground or water connect the interiors of the corridors with the outside world. The mix of laboratories, ancillary areas and offices in combination with the spatial and functional qualities of the circuits results in a practical, light and dynamic whole that is highly efficient in both architectural and technical terms. In this way Mimicry expresses the relationship between form and context, the building and the campus, the landscape and the water, hospitality and collaboration.

*A sustainable building - ample space with relatively small exterior walls*

Linnaeusborg scores high on sustainability criteria. The building is compact, with a very favourable exterior wall to floor ratio, and it is sustainable in terms of materials used and energy consumption. Flexible use through consistently applied floor plan zoning and installations also make the building future-proof in terms of its usage. The techniques used to create a sustainable technical infrastructure include a green roof, as well as high-temperature cooling and low-temperature heating using concrete core activation connected to heat and cold storage facilities. Particular attention has been paid to the development of a light, low-maintenance facade (saving construction costs) made up of innovative, facade-length prefabricated polyester wall elements with an especially high insulation value. The use of these techniques results in an EPC of 0.662: an exceptionally low value for a design dating from 2004.