TNW Janneke Kamstra, Michiel Kreutzen

‘State of the art and inviting’

Interview New faculty building Applied Sciences

Janneke Kamstra Senior Project Manager at FMRE & Michiel Kreutzer Departmental Director at ChemE

Calling the new Applied Sciences Faculty building that opened last summer state of the art is no exaggeration. The laboratories there meet extremely high structural and systems-technical requirements with regard to vibration, temperature stability, ventilation and noise. But it not only meets these technical requirements. A building has also been created that invites people to socialize after a busy day and encourages ad hoc cooperation. A building that provides all the preconditions for competing with the very best and perfectly suits the Living Campus. 

Senior Project Manager at FMRE, Janneke Kamstra monitors the construction and laboratory finishing at the 30,000 m2 building which 600 staff and 800 students use. She studied Architecture at TU Delft and subsequently worked as a project manager for 12 years both at consultancies and independently. She was recruited for the new construction of the Applied Sciences building some four and a half years ago. Michiel Kreutzer is the departmental director at ChemE. He studied Chemical Technology and has been working at TU Delft for 19 years, starting as a PhD and now working as a professor.

Why the new building?

Michiel: “The old building had truly reached its physical limits. Furthermore, it represented an archaic concept of how a university works with its autarchic islands and the princely rooms for professors. The many intervening doors enhanced the politico-denominational segregation. In today’s world, people enter into one collaboration after another. The new building is fluid, you can’t tell where the transition is from one research group into another.”

Janneke: “In addition, Applied Sciences used to be spread out across many more buildings than it is today. Bionanoscience, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology are currently housed together, close to the Reactor Institute moreover. All these departments make ideal cross-pollination candidates.”

TNW Michiel Kreutzen Michiel Kreutzer  

What makes the building so special?

Janneke: “This building meets contradictory technical requirements. On the one hand, it had to enable vibration-free research whilst, on the other, providing extremely fast air conditioning and precise temperature control, accurate to 0.1 degree Celsius. Just switching a measurement device on raises the ambient temperature of a room, so you can imagine how exact the fine tuning had to be. The air-conditioning and temperature control also demanded climate control systems that now occupy a quarter of the building, yet these are not permitted to pass on any vibrations. There isn’t another building like this anywhere on the planet. It was up to us to be the first to unite these opposing elements.”

How did you succeed?

Janneke: “By installing each of the 9 air-conditioning units on 26 vibration dampers and using flexible connectors to the air ducts. We also made the heat pumps vibration-free and enclosed them in noise-abatement surrounds. Naturally, the whole operation started way before the installation of systems with the selection of the most suitable location in the southern part of the campus. This did entail banning car traffic from the Kluyverweg to limit environmental vibration. A trial foundation piling was also installed here and groundwater levels were monitored at the site for years. Later on, we even built a 100 m2 trial laboratory to check our assumptions for the calculations using measurements. Construction could go ahead once these proved correct. A subterranean polder was built to control rising groundwater levels. Eight times as many foundation pilings (both vertical and angled) were used in places where experimental set-ups were to be built than elsewhere in the building. On top of this, these spaces were equipped with their own, free-floating floors some 1.60 metres thick in total. And I could go on and on.”

What did the building’s development demand from users and the construction companies?

Michiel: “A lot. The scientists had to indicate what they required, but they are used to labs ‘just working’. Providing technical specifications for elements such as, for instance, humidity, is not something they are accustomed to. Conversely, construction companies are also unaccustomed to the specific requirements specialist research demands. Achieving consensus between the parties was quite a chore.”

Janneke: “To the scientists, providing their – often very detailed input – was an additional burden alongside their standard tasks and the deadlines were often very short. Another complicating factor was having to think so far ahead; what do I need to do research during the coming 50 years? We helped them as much as possible with this by clarifying which choices needed to be made now and which facilities would still be an option in the future.”

Why should we be proud of Applied Sciences’ new building and facilities?

Michiel: “They allow research to be conducted on a nanometre scale, into gene therapy, into new solar cells, into new ways of purifying drinking water and much, much more. Ultimately, as a university, you have to be proud of the work and the people carrying out the latter. A building such as this one creates preconditions to that end. Thanks to its infrastructure, but also because it encourages people to cooperate. This is already noticeable, a mere six months after it opened.”

TNW Janneke Kamstra Janneke Kamstra  

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