Unilever has presented the design for its new building on campus. The building is very ambitious in terms of sustainability and incorporates a mini factory, test kitchens and an Experience Centre.
The new Global Foods Innovation Centre has four storeys plus an underground car park, and will also be home to the Unilever R&D centre for nutrition. The design by Amsterdam-based practice Paul de Ruiter Architects exudes openness, thanks to the extensive use of glass. According to Unilever, knowledge-sharing and transparency are key to the building, or as the architect puts it: "Thanks to the use of various innovative techniques and a refined configuration, movement and encounters are encouraged." As such, the idea is that the transparent design and the building's strategic location on campus will create optimum interaction between Unilever and the external parties within the 'Food Ecosystem' in Wageningen. Researchers and students from WUR, start-ups, knowledge centres and consumers will be able to meet each other here and work together on innovations in the food industry in a sustainable way.
On the left side of the ground floor of the 18,000 m2 building (see illustration) will be the Pilot Plant, a mini factory where new products will be made on a small scale. On the right there is space for Food & Customer Experience, in other words, the nursery for new products.
In the test kitchens, experiments will be carried out with new ingredients and recipes. In the Concept Store, employees and experts will get to know new products, as will students and consumers.
Above the ‘public areas’ there will be a further three storeys, housing a restaurant, offices and laboratories. Underneath the entire building will be an underground car park that will also be accessible to non-Unilever employees. The building will be constructed by Dura Vermeer and is expected to be ready by mid-2019. Unilever will be moving its existing R&D facilities in Vlaardingen, Heilbronn and Poznań to the campus. This will involve bringing about 550 employees to Wageningen.
The Unilever building will be flanked on the left by FrieslandCampina and on the right by Plus Ultra. The surrounding area is not as spacious as shown on the illustration, as the bus lane across the campus will pass beside the building.
Photos © Paul de Ruiter Architects