Official Opening of the New Atlas Building at the University of Wageningen, Netherlands
Rafael Viñoly Architects PC is delighted to announce the official opening of the Atlas Building for the University of Wageningen Department of Environmental Sciences. The centre represents the firm’s second completion in the Netherlands, following the opening of Mahler 4 (Amsterdam) in 2005.
Founded in 1918, Wageningen University has evolved into one of the world’s leading education and research centres, focusing on the environmental, plant, animal, agrotechnological, and food sciences. Housed on a new campus – the Centrum de Born, located to the north of the town of Wageningen – the Viñoly-designed centre provides one of the most advanced technological platforms for research and development. A third of the space has been given over to soil research laboratories, with the rest designated as office space.
The vision for the building was to create an informal collaborative environment that stimulates intellectual interaction in an unforced and natural way. The concept was further informed by the site’s urban planning requirements, which called for a compact, monolithic building; the response is a bold cube-shaped building, defined by a signature external concrete structure of striking sculptural quality that serves to render the building almost entirely column-free.
This has, in turn, allowed a flexible building, with interior spaces that have been designed freely to meet the needs of those scientists who will be using them. A first-floor entrance, accessed by a ramp, opens up into a vast atrium, around which laboratories, work spaces and offices are organised. Bridges connect the galleries on adjacent floors, encouraging informal interaction between users, while the introduction of natural light – permitted to enter from the north side only – is a welcome addition for those working within.