Barcode Architects recently completed Earth Simulation Laboratory (ESL), in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The ESL is Barcode Architects' large-scale transformation of the Robert J. Van de Graaff laboratory, the former particle accelerator laboratory at Utrecht Science Park (USP).
The ESL is a dynamic building, where the user can experience whether it is day or evening, whether the sun is shining outside or whether it is raining. The 7.000m2 building has various laboratories and research spaces for experimental and physical research, workshops, archive rooms and offices.
The structure of the Van de Graaff laboratory was severely outdated. Office spaces were dark and low, the view to the outside was limited, the facade did not insulate well and the sun protection functioned suboptimally. Barcode Architects formulated a clear vision for the new ESL-a building that fits the principles of the 21st century. A pleasant environment with healthy working conditions and a comfortable indoor climate that responds to the environment outside.
The original laboratory has a massive, deep volume. Barcode Architects has been searching for a way to optimize daylight entry into the building. The office workplaces are situated adjacent to the facade, which has been made as transparent as possible with large glass sections. The indoor laboratory spaces are equipped with dome-shaped skylights, so that the user experiences the dynamic outdoor environment within the building, without being bothered by direct sunlight or disturbing shadows. The skylights in the large experimental stream gutter hall are partly opaque so that solely northern light enters and the daylight has no effect on the research setup.
In the work halls, four large windows have been incorporated in the masonry facade, so that users also work in a green environment here. These applications minimize the use of artificial light, which promotes energy consumption and a healthy biorhythm of the user. Conversely, the research and creativity within the faculty are also on display through the large glass sections in the facade.