News - May 17, 2012

New Helix building shaping up

The design for the new AFSG building will be completed in September this year. Helix, the long awaited building to consolidate food research and other departments in one location, will rise up beside the Forum building on the campus.

The helix shape will be featured in the big 'turning' windows all round the building.
Once the design is finalized, the tender procedure will begin. 'Construction will start in the spring of 2013 and the handover will be around January 2015,' says Bart Sjoerts, head of facilities management in the Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group (AFSG). 'And we are determined to stick to this schedule.' The only spoil sport could be bad weather. Sjoerts: 'There are still two winters between now and then.'
By summer 2015, Helix will be housing all the groups in the present chemistry building and the transitorium and food groups in the Bio- and Agrotechnion. The chair groups which will move to Helix are now finalizing the nitty-gritties of the design, such as the number of wall sockets and gas and water pipes. The interior layout has been fixed.
From the outside, Helix will look like a block made of concrete and glass. 'It will be a dignified-looking building,' says Sjoerts. 'Not as grand as Forum and Orion, but functional.' This is necessitated by the limited budget and the relatively many technical requirements. But the building will still have a certain air with a recurring helix shape as motif. This will be visible in the staircase and the big 'turning' windows all round the building.
According to Sjoerts, the design has been agreed upon in a very harmonious way: 'Everyone has been constructive in providing ideas.' Future occupants are also satisfied because they have been given a big say in the design, says Professor Sacco de Vries of Biochemistry and a member of the building taskforce in AFSG. 'It was a complicated process having to incorporate various demands for the experiments of different groups, such as nutrition and chemistry, into one building.
Sore point
The biggest sore point was that all these groups will have to forego some space, which had given rise to long discussions on fair allocation. This space loss is partly made up for by a more efficient layout in Helix. But Philippe Puylaert, member of the AFSG employees' council, points out that Helix is really short of space: 'The layout is based on data in 2010, while many chair groups keep growing even during the recession.'
Consolidated location of AFSG is more than Helix
The new location of the Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group (AFSG) on the campus is more than just Helix, stresses building officer Wilko van Loon. Between the already renovated Technotron and the Atrium building, construction of a link building is underway. Only the foundation is now in place, on top of which a building with four storeys will be built. This will take place in March 2013, somewhat later than planned.
There will also be more renovations to the interior of Atrium. New laboratories will be added, while the entry hall has already been refurbished. Outside, there will be a new driveway and entrance designed by Masters students of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning. Finally, a glass tunnel will link Helix to Building 115, where Impulse and the Restaurant of the Future are housed.