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The Grotius building, situated in the spacious, green surroundings of the old Heyendael estate, is a new addition to the campus of Nijmegen’s Radboud University, in the Netherlands. Completed in 2014, the building is predominantly used by the university’s Faculty of Law.
The Grotius is part of a master plan to restore the estate’s original character. Accordingly, new buildings are designed with a compact footprint, and are arranged in such a way that they blend in with the surrounding parkland. Benthem Crouwel Architects designed a 26,000 square metre, sustainable structure that fulfils this brief perfectly. With its futuristic looks, the Grotius building makes an eye-catching feature. Extensive use of glass, and the careful articulation of forms, ensure that it has a wonderful feeling of openness, whatever side you view it from. Natural materials, such as stone, wood and leather have been chosen for the façades, floors and furniture, bringing warmth and comfort to the contemporary aesthetics. In 2015, the outstanding design of the Grotius building was awarded the Nijmegen Architecture Prize.
About the project
The Grotius building appears to consist of just 3 floors, but in fact there are 5. It has an underground area and a penthouse-like space at roof level, which is almost invisible from the ground. As students pass through the main entrance, they are welcomed by a bright atrium and a cascade of wide stairs. The interior plan evolves naturally from open public spaces on the lower floors – such as a parking garage, a communal study area, a large library, a lecture hall and a restaurant – to smaller, more private rooms on the upper levels.
The main contractor and the façade installer for the project were both committed to using Q-railing’s top-mounted Easy Glass 3kN railing system. Capable of withstanding linear side forces of over 3 kN, it more than fulfilled their demanding safety requirements while still providing maximum transparency. In total, around 600 metres of glass railing were installed alongside stairs and balustrades. Attractive finishing touches were provided by wooden handrails and base shoes powder-coated in black.
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