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Forum Groningen


Architects: NL Architects // Project size: 20.000 m² GFA // Completion: 2020 // Awards: AIT Award 2020 - Public Buildings / Culture, Best Building of the Year 2020 (BNA) - Public Buildings, Architectenweb Awards 2020 - Public Buildings, Dutch Design Award 2020 - Habitat

The Groninger Forum is a cultural complex consisting of 11 floors with the Groningen City Library, the Groningen Museum, the Groningen Archives and the Film Theatre. There is also a parking garage with five basement levels with approximately 400 parking lots and 1.500 bicycle parking spaces. NL Architects designed an ambitionated, sculptural building on the east side of the Grote Markt. The two sides of the building are sloped in opposite directions. Sloping surfaces improve the light penetration for the surrounding buildings. The glass atrium offers spectacular views. Throughout the design process, attention was paid to sustainability. The result is impressive: Energy consumption is half that of a reference building.

ABT carried out a quick scan to investigate the risks of settlement in relation to an efficient building pit principle. A variants analysis led to a five-layer foundation with retaining walls, underwater concrete, tension/compression piles and tie rods. In the excavation, underwater concrete was used as a temporary underwater seal. The slab of steel-fibre reinforced underwater concrete is the largest in the Netherlands, at almost 4.000 m³. The main supporting structure consists of two concrete cores with steel trusses in between, which are placed on top of the car park. The architecture made the supporting structure a challenge: the columns were not allowed to be in line on any floor and the facades were inclined.


The result was a spider web of load-bearing vertical beams that also absorb horizontal forces. This irregular structure of the building had to fit into the regular parking grid in the substructure.

The Groninger Forum was founded in 2007. At that time it was not common to work out buildings in three dimensions, but ABT decided to do so. The specifications were delivered with a BIM model as a contract document. Besides the virtual collaboration, there was also a physical one. In BIM, the subcontractor's elements were superimposed on the design to quickly identify possible deviations. Control based on drawings is definitely a thing of the past.

Scope of services: Feasibility study, structural engineering, implementation planning, cost management, geotechnical engineering

Photos: Deon Prins, Marcel van der Burg

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