Educational and research areas, workplaces, study areas and, above all, lots of green and light. Marlies Veldman, UvA construction project manager, looks forward to the opening with confidence. “Hopefully this will meet the residents' expectations, but it would be even better if we could also exceed expectations.” The combination of the special design and the connection with the Science Park, where approximately 2,300 students in AI and digital innovation, 175 companies and 500 researchers make LAB42 a hub for digital innovation and AI.
The bridge hangs in the heart of the building, surrounded by offices for companies and scale-ups in the field of AI. One of Veldman's favorite parts. ‘The bridge is the connection between the buzz of catering and students on the ground floor and the quiet places for research institutes at the top. Here, one thing flows into the other and the business community will meet the students and researchers.'
The layout and incidence of light give the building an open character. It is easy to walk up to each other and get to know each other.
That meeting could be a solution to one of the major challenges of tech companies in the Netherlands: finding suitable specialised personnel. Those (potential) staff will soon be housed in the building itself. Interested entrepreneurs can choose from a flex desk in the building, a fixed desk or an office that can accommodate between 2 and 10 workplaces.
The abundance of daylight and the open spaces ensure a healthy working climate. The large atrium with a high ceiling, playful voids and varied workspaces make residents clearly visible to each other. ‘Because you see each other, it is easy to walk up to each other for a meeting or to get acquainted. That visibility also creates a certain vibrancy in the building, you can see who is working where.'
Energy neutral and circular
One of the particularities and challenges of the construction and design is that LAB42 is a 12,000 m2 energy neutral building. This means that the building produces as much energy as it needs. Among other things, 1800 m2 of solar panels are needed for this. “Not all of them fit on the roof, so we looked for creative solutions,” says Veldman. That became the southwest facade. There, a pattern of open and closed panels condenses towards the top of the building. A reference to a binary code, as a nod to the computer science taught in the building.
On schedule and within budget
When the building is completed in mid-June, it will be the turn of the UvA and the faculty to furnish LAB42 and prepare it for users. The building should be ready by mid-August. Veldman: ‘In 4 years and 6 months a completely new building was completed, on schedule and within budget, that is something we can be proud of – in a time full of uncertainties on all kinds of fronts. From the start, all were in the same direction: the architect, contractor, construction workers and project stakeholders from the UvA worked closely together. And you can see that in the end product.”