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‘Old Extension’ of Faculty GMW to become modern, open building with views of the Hortus Garden

29 May 2018
Preliminary Design of 'Old Extension'

Once renovation work on the ‘Old Extension’ of the Heymans building on Grote Kruisstraat is completed, the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (GMW) at the University of Groningen will have more study stations, a revamped restaurant and better teaching facilities. The Old Extension will be demolished this summer so that new building work can commence. The work is expected to last about 1 year.

Buildings of GMW
Buildings of GMW

The ‘Old Extension’ (built in 1966) has been an old and faithful friend to the University, but not longer meets requirements. This section of the building needs extensive redevelopment to improve the insulation in the outer walls, the ventilation and climate control, make more logical use of the rooms and improve the technical facilities for students. After consulting with staff and students, architects came up with a brand-new design for the building.

"I am very happy with the design of the new canteen and the study and lecture rooms," says Rita Landeweerd, managing director of the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences. "The Old Extension has been in need of renewal for years. With the new building we can finally improve the indoor climate and the use of available space."

The contract was given to AAS Groningen architects’ office, the firm that designed the Student Hotel and Proton Centre in the city. The Preliminary Design has already been finished. The new building will be constructed inside the contours of the current building.

Building to get its own identity

"We have managed to give a personal identity to a building that has been almost completely overshadowed," explains architect Aron van Delft from AAS Groningen proudly. Three storeys will be built beneath the oval Heymans wing (which will remain above the new building), but a very special feature has been added: every other window will be a bay window, jutting out into the garden. The design fits in perfectly with the existing support frame for the wing above. "‘The diagonal, dark grey columns will no longer stand out. And removing the former emergency staircase on the garden side will give the building a unique, open appearance."

Connection with the garden

In warm weather, the bay windows on the ground floor can be opened onto the historical Hortus Garden. The entire building will provide lovely views of the trees, plants and bushes in the garden. "This creates a feeling of being outside," says Van Delft. "In addition, on the inside, the bays form pleasant spots that stimulate concentration."

Layout of the new building

Some 250 places where students can eat lunch or meet each other will be installed near to the restaurant on the ground floor. The design for the first floor currently features 2 teaching rooms and the normal number of workstations. Silent stations, a PC room and a multifunctional area will be built on the second floor. All the study stations will be fitted with power sockets and a high-speed wireless internet connection will be available everywhere.

Highly sustainable

Thanks to the vastly improved insulation, the use of sun-resistant HR++ glass and good ventilation, the new section of the building will be highly sustainable and feel extremely comfortable. The design allows for certain materials to be recycled, such as the upper floor and the old foundations. Another advantage is that no new piles need to be driven.


The next step is for the architects from AAS Groningen to add the final details to the drawings to and submit a Definitive Design, which is expected in July 2018. The Old Extension will be demolished in the summer of 2018, to cause as little inconvenience as possible to teaching and research activities. The Faculty has made temporary arrangements for some of the functions of the Old Extension. A temporary canteen will be housed in the basement of the Ambulatorium next to the Nieuwenhuis building, and study stations will be made available elsewhere on the site.

Get the latest news on the building work

The Faculty has set up a web environment to keep students, staff, local residents and other interested parties informed about the progress of the building project. Over the next few months, information about the design, demolition, construction, diversions and expected inconvenience will be available here.

Last modified:10 July 2018 4.23 p.m.
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