News - April 12, 2007

Atlas is ‘dark basket’

The exterior of the Atlas building is already famous, but according to the Stichting Living Daylights (SLD), the new building for environmental scientists is a classic example how designing for appearances is done at the expense of daylight penetration.

‘The proven positive effect of natural daylight is apparently less important for the university of Wageningen when it comes to the functioning of its own employees than when it is about the growth of crops.’ Atto Harsta, the founder of SLD and promoter of daylight in buildings, expressed this opinion in a review after a recent visit to the Atlas building. The building with the striking white concrete bearing construction on the outside is referred to as a ‘dark basket’.

According to the reviews, the exciting design of the building on the new campus has been achieved at the expense of the inside environment. Despite the big glass roof, the central atrium is dark, and only on the highest floors is there an ‘invigorating’ amount of daylight. The lower down you go in the building, the darker it gets.

Facilities manager Wouter Hiskemuller was surprised at the complaint. ‘We were so hospitable to the SLD people,’ he joked. ‘I haven’t had any complaints from the occupants about too little light, quite the opposite: the sunshades aren’t working properly yet.’