Nikhef renovates building in Amsterdam

12 November 2020

The designs are almost finished and the plans are becoming more and more specific. And it is expected to start in the spring of 2021: the renovation of the Nikhef building in Amsterdam.

A number of installations has been in need of replacement or major maintenance for several years. Because it would take a lot of time to repair or replace each part separately, Nikhef decided to take on everything at the same time. The entire building will be renovated, in order to improve its appearance and functionality and make it fit with the groundbreaking research that is taking place there.

The design team for the renovation consists of JHK Architects, Deerns and Aronsohn Constructies. They started exploring the building in 2019 and surveyed Nikhef employees. In this way they found out how the current building is being used, what the needs are and what requires special attention. In different phases, they then worked towards an increasingly detailed design.

Right from the start, the design team appreciated the existing robustness of the building, with sand-coloured brickwork and floors made up of concrete cassettes. They therefore chose to maintain this robustness. However, the layout will change, there will be more space to meet each other and the server room will be expanded.

Facade and entrance area

From the outside, there will be a number of striking changes. There will be new awnings, anthracite window frames and the concrete bands will be painted grey. But the biggest change is that the entrance will move to the south side of the building, and will be visible from the main axis of the Amsterdam Science Park. There will be a high and wide glass facade containing a door and revolving door, and this spacious gesture will create a light and spacious entrance hall.

Renovatie entreehal
The bright and spacious entrance area with security gates
Renovatie bibliotheek
The new library that can also be closed and used as a meeting room

The new library will be located against the back wall of the entrance hall. It can be used freely by all Nikhef visitors and can be closed for meetings if desired. Next to the library will be the show lab: a space that Nikhef can use for demonstrations for visitors.

An exhibition area will start in the reception area, where important Nikhef exhibits can be displayed. A multitude and variety of objects can be shown here, and it will reach all the way into the new ‘meeting centre’.

Central meeting place

At the location of the current courtyard garden, a central meeting place will be created, including a colloquium hall, meeting rooms, space for exhibitions and lots of open space for meetings.

Renovatie trap
The new ‘meeting centre’, with the colloquium hall on the left and the stairs on the right
The colloquium room of which the back wall can be opened for larger meetings

The construction in the former courtyard garden consists of a roof construction on columns. With a reference to the concrete cassettes in the old building, the roof structure will be fitted with a grid of cassettes with roof lights. The ‘meeting centre’ will consist of two floors. Downstairs is a large colloquium room and a living room. Upstairs are meeting rooms and a lounge. A staircase connects the two floors. When the panel doors at the back of the colloquium room are opened, you can also look at the presentation screen from the stairs.

Work floors and ‘anchor areas’

Because many meetings will move to the ‘meeting centre’, the corridors of the building will become more quiet. And to further increase the concentration in the offices and laboratories, each floor is given an ‘anchor area’. Employees can go here for small meetings, collaboration or undisturbed video calls. In the H-building, the anchorages above the entrance will be located at the ‘mezzanine’. The design and layout of these new spaces will vary from department to department, but there will always be a central core with an enclosed consultation area and a pantry and seating area on both sides.

‘Anchor areas’ at the current mezzanine, above the new entrance
Two anchor areas on different floors, each with its own colour scheme

Workshop and server area

The precision engineering workshop develops and produces components for research infrastructures around the world, including CERN’s particle accelerator in Geneva. In order to continue to do this in the future, both the technical infrastructure and the layout of the workshop will be adapted.

From the start, Nikhef scientists and technicians have also been involved in internet developments. The building has two server rooms, one dedicated to carrying out calculations and the other to connection and connectivity. The server area will be expanded and the infrastructure of existing rooms will be adapted for this purpose.

Design team, construction team and planning

The design team consists of JHK Architects, Deerns and Aronsohn Constructies. JHK is responsible for the architectural design and structural aspects, Deerns focuses on installations and building physics advice, and Aronsohn focuses on structural advice. The Nikhef building is part of a complex. The basic design for the cross-complex adaptations to the facade was made by BDG Architects.

In the meantime, construction team partner Strukton has also joined in. This is the company that prepares the construction work and will later carry it out. According to the current planning, construction work will begin in the spring of 2021. Different parts of the building will be renovated in different phases and the building will remain in use during the renovation. Eventually, there will be a beautiful and future-proof building that students, technicians and scientists will love to come to.