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Science faculty buildings

The faculty of Sciences of Nijmegen has moved in 2004 to its a new residence in the Huygens building (HG).
Huygens building: Science faculty Nijmegen
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As it is the main building hosting educational and research activities in Biology, it seemed a good reason to reserve a special place to this beautiful building in the current vcbio site. The transparant architectonic structure of the building concords with the present view of multidisciplinary thematic research and a broad approach in teaching. It matches the concept that grouping teaching, research and auxillary departments of the faculty under one roof is beneficial for cohesion.
The Nanolab which holds the scanning probe and atomic forces microscopes, lies -nearly entirely- underground and is extremely stable. The neighbouring Goudsmit NMR-pavilion with its blue roofplates is like an island. The construction represents the leaves of a water lily floating on the surrounding water. The High-field Magnet lab is arranged in two layers and hosts laboratories where measurements of extremely high magnetic field can be performed in a astonishing wide range of conditions. The Flare (Free-electron Laser for Advanced spectroscopy and high-Resolution Experiments) is still under construction. The Technocenter can still be found in the -newly equipped- old N-wing of the faculty. The Logistics center, accessible for transport trucs, is connected to the Huygens building and the NMR building partly through tunnels of the former faculty. The Experimental green houses and genebank, now enriched with a phytotron and rootlab, are located in the area of the former zijn Botanical Garden.

Naming of the Huygens building

Night view entry of the Huygens building; Dick van Aalst The beautiful main building of the Science Faculty of the Radboud University Nijmegen has been named after the celebrated scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695, born and deceased in The Hague. Christiaan Huygens is known as one of the most influent and multidisciplinary Dutch scientist and inventor. He made important discoveries in the field of mathematics (in particular probability calculations, the quadrature of the circle), physics (the wave theory of light, the law of momentum conservation and findings on centrifugal force and elastic collisions), astronomy (described among others the rings of Saturnus and her moon Titan), music division of the octave into 31 equal intervals. He realized instruments like the pendulum clock and the marine timepiece, but also developped shock absorbers for coaches and built a magic lantern, telescopes and microscopes. (Source: collection of the Boerhaave museum)

Building process

Christiaan Huygens The construction has been realized in two steps: first the two most southly-oriented wings have been erected. Then the Universal laboratorium has been demolished. Finally, this space has been re-utilized to build the two north wings. A webcam was directed on the Toernooiveld area during the construction of the Huygens building. The roughly 75 000 pictures recorded with this webcam were processed by CNCZ colleague Bert Witte to a movie in which the Huygens building seems to grow like a model object. Click here for a webpage version of this movie. (70 MB, so it takes a while before it plays! © Bert Witte; used with permission; with thanks to interNLnet).
Construction and constructors of the Huygens building (2002-2004)
To see the larger picture in the frame, click on the thumbnails below or on the names in the list right
zoom-in image of the construction
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Rear side of the Huygens building
Photography and copyrights on photographs: Dick van Aalst (FNWI)

Architectural concept

The Huygens building fits in the developmental concept of the Heyendaalseweg as meeting place between university and the city of Nijmegen. The design of the building is breathes transparency and openness. The fundaments are like a town map consisting of four volumes of four external levels with impressive glass front panels, linked by a street and a slightly curved roof. In the heart of the building is the central square, with the entry hall facing the Heyendaalseweg and the restaurant at the Mercatorpad. The street matches themes like activity, dynamics and spatial experience: the street as as meeting place, a multifunctional space and a traffic zone from where the teaching classes and the entries to scientific departments in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Sciences and auxillary units like the library of Science can be reached.
The corridors and the streets are broadly sized. Voids, closed and open front panels, a lot of daylight should give the main artery an open, friendly and limpid character. The use of warm materials and color accents should reinforce this effect. In contrast to the open public lightstreet, the various scientific and auxillary groups are hoisted in the more private wings: laboratories and research rooms are preceeded by more informal closed work- and write areas. These zone are the ggateway of each department. As the laboratories and other rooms are relatively deep, daylight is allowed to reach from the side panels. Sunshine and light penetration can be kept down up to darkness by means of adjustable lamels. Flexible division or redistribution of rooms has been taken into account in the general concept.


Innerstreet, inner architecture of the Huygens building; science faculty; photo Dick van Aalst; beeldbank The Huygens building has been conceived with a large parking lot for cars and bicycles in the basement. People coming from the parking area can use a speperateelevator to the ground central hall where the reception and the Foucault pendulum can be found. Once inside the various departments can be firther reached through stairs and elevators from the main street main out. All rooms are accessible to less mobile persons. In sake of safely and fire prevention, chemicals and goods are transported along different paths than other streaming, in particular by employing the -partly old- tunnels to and from the Logisitics center. The telescope domes on the roof can be reached by means of separate stars.

Particularities of the heating/cooling

The building comprises a state of the art heating and cooling system: concrete mass in the floors functions as a warmth/cold exchanger depending on the season. In addition in winter time secondary waste heat (about 28 degree C) from experiments in the nearby Laboratory for Magnets is shifted to the Huygens building. Further on, a water bell capacity system deep in the soil (aquifer) has been installed to allow storage of heat or cold from the building for use at a later stage. In practice quite many readjustments of the cooling and healing system have been performed throught he years.


AGS Architects & Planners B.V., Heerlen.
GTI nv, Bunnik,

last modified: 2 Jun 2014