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Groundbreaking Work
@University of Groningen
Groundbreaking Work Projects The 'Herdershut'

Field station 'De Herdershut'

The University of Groningen’s biology research field station ‘De Herdershut’ (The Shepherd’s Hut) on Schiermonnikoog has been modernized and made more energy-efficient. The new building has more space for teaching, better ICT facilities, two modern laboratories and more comfortable accommodation. The building has solar panels, sustainable heat generation and is not connected to the gas supply – just some of the ways in which energy savings are made.

After the demolition of the old building (1982) the new building was ready in the summer of 2021. The municipality of Schiermonnikoog is very committed to the good cooperation and relationship with the UG, and is very happy with the new sustainable building.

The field studies carried out by biologists of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at ‘De Herdershut’ have resulted in dozens of dissertations and hundreds of national and international publications. The most well-known researcher to have worked there is Spinoza prize winner Theunis Piersma, Professor in Global Flyway Ecology. Teaching activities for students also take place there, as well as approximately 1,700 overnight stays per year.

The building’s name comes from the ‘real’ shepherd’s hut nearby. This small wooden building is a listed building and was left as it is. Both the ‘small shepherd’s hut’ and the barn previously underwent external renovation.


The new building, designed by architect John Timmer of the UG, is embedded in the surrounding landscape and consists of two sections that slide into one another. The wooden facade and roof cladding provide a natural look. An observation post is located in the building, as was the case in the old building, to study birds in the area. The surface area of the field station will increase from 420 m2 to 500 m2.

The two 20-person dormitories in the old building are replaced with 13 smaller sleeping quarters as well as a living room, a modern kitchen and good sanitary facilities, providing a comfortable place to stay with good access for people with disabilities. For teaching and research, there is a modern teaching room of over 65 m2 and a wet lab and dry lab that together total almost 87 m2 will enable small-scale laboratory research.


De new Herdershut has reduced its energy consumption from the grid by two thirds, by using solar panels, better insulation and a low-temperature heating system with a heat pump. The building can also be split into two, making it possible to turn off part of the energy and heating system when there are not many people staying in the building in the winter. The energy performance coefficient of the complex is just 0.2.


The project was carried out by installation company Pranger-Rossier and local construction company Dijkstra and was completed in mid-2021.

Official opening on 27 August 2022:

Last modified:24 March 2023 5.24 p.m.
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