Today, 31 May, part of the Nikhef building in Amsterdam will be handed over to construction team partner Strukton. This marks the official start of the renovation. It’s quite an operation, which is expected to take two years. But the result will be worth it: a building that matches the pioneering research taking place there, in terms of installations, appearance and functionality.
Anyone arriving at the Amsterdam Science Park via the Kruislaan cannot miss that construction work is about to start at Nikhef. A large area next to the building is fenced off and paved. And there is a white two-storey construction site hut. Dozens of Strukton staff will be working from this construction site over the next few years. The paving and the construction road ensure that construction traffic is kept separate from ordinary traffic. To this end, construction traffic also has its own entrance at MacGillavrylaan.
Start at the Mechanical Technology department
The first departments to be renovated are the Mechanical Technology department and the mailroom. Since 1 May, Mechanical Technology has been clearing out the workshops and 200 pallets of machinery and equipment have been taken to storage. Group leader Patrick Werneke says the preparations go back much further “In March 2019 we started making plans for the redesign of the workshops and offices. With a smaller group and the architect, we further developed the plans. Preparing the renovation in itself was a huge challenge. It is totally outside our area of expertise and that brings a lot of uncertainty.”
The workshop with machines and the number of workshops with the current equipment will remain more or less the same, but there will also be quite a few changes. He says: “The location of a number of workshops will change. We will have a new measuring room and a new room for projects that can be seen from the new Atrium. Above all, the facilities in the rooms, such as air and sound, will be completely renovated to current standards. This means a better working environment for the employees.” He expects Mechanical Technology to be back in full operation in October.
The various parts of the building will be renovated in different phases. By the end of the summer, the expansion of the data centre will have started. After that, the existing building parts ‘N’ and ‘H’ will be renovated, a brand new meeting centre will be built at the location of the current courtyard, and a new entrance on the other side of the building will appear. The design for the renovation and expansion was made by JHK Architects, Deerns and Aronsohn.
A renovation like this is a major logistical puzzle and challenge. Departments and staff temporarily move to other locations in the building or to a building in the vicinity. New destinations must also be found for old materials, such as equipment parts, exhibition objects and books. And everyone has to get the right information in time. In the meantime, a lot of employees are still working from home due to the corona measures, and the work of those who do have to be at Nikhef continues as much as possible.
Many employees are therefore busy and are working hard to ensure that the renovation runs as smoothly as possible. Director Stan Bentvelsen hopes that if corona measures are relaxed further, the renovation will not discourage employees from coming to Nikhef. ” For the next two years, unfortunately, we will be inconvenienced if we want to meet at the institute. This can be quite demanding, and I urge everyone to make use of the building whenever possible. At least we have arranged that there will be a quiet period without noise between 10:00 and 13:00 every Friday. Then we can see and meet each other.”
The neighbouring institutes, the UvA and the Amsterdam University College, will also notice the construction work in progress. Institute manager Arjen van Rijn tries to inform the neighbours as well as possible. “Even though Nikhef and the builder want to minimise the inconvenience as much as possible, renovation is never without nuisance. We want to keep our neighbours as well informed as the Nikhef employees. That is why we have regular contact and discussions. If something does go wrong, you can always contact us via email@example.com. Then we will see what we can do about it.”