Dec 2016 - Stimulating educational buildings

Industrial beauty

Between completion, moving in and commissioning photographer Jan de Vries visited the renewed Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR) in Amsterdam. A short visit, as people will soon start working here again on an important and confidential research. In the still empty and silent spaces the industrial beauty of the monumental buildings – designed by architects Maaskant and Van Tijen – is perhaps even more beautiful than after moving in the furniture and people. The spaciousness, the historical details, the rough concrete structure and especially the sturdy wind tunnels speak for themselves. 

That beauty doesn’t make the industrial buildings less useful. On the contrary. Originally designed as working buildings, Inbo and Wessel de Jonge renovated and rebuilt the buildings into new working buildings, that meet the requirements of modern research and the employee of today. Offices with a mix of activity-related workplaces, research rooms for the latest techniques and plenty of space to meet one another and to share knowledge. 

For that the former wind tunnel building plays a key role. As it is literally and figuratively the heart of the complex, this will be the place where people come together. With the backdrop of the rough concrete wind tunnels people can have lunch, drink coffee, work and have meetings here. The once almost discarded building has now become the eye catcher of the new NLR. Michel Brouwer, project leader for NLR for the renovation and new building, proudly keeps on telling visitors how airplanes used to hang upside down in this wind tunnel; the ‘lift’ of a plane was measured by simply subtracting its own weight from the elongation of the springs from which it hung. 

Since the scaffoldings have been removed from the renovated buildings and contractor  Lokhorst removed his site offices from the courtyard, the total picture really shows its power. The wind tunnel building is completed, the new building completes the square of buildings and fully glass bridges connect the buildings on level +1 into one whole. A special complex for a special user, and to be specially proud of.

- Project Dutch Aerospace Center, Amsterdam

More information: Josine van Gulik, Jacques Prins