Although the laboratory building for DTU’s basic research centre, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Biosustainability (CFB) is located on the original DTU campus, which was realised in 1961-75 by the architect couple, Eva and Niels Koppel, in terms of form it is totally contemporary, its six storeys rising above the site and the surrounding roofs.
CFB is a world leader in the development of so-called ‘cell factories’, in which microorganisms are used to produce a range of bio-chemicals in a more sustainable way.
DTU Campus is located on a 1 square-kilometre plain, sloping slightly to the north. The campus area is systematically structured around a square grid that is divided by two axes. All construction and infrastructure are based on this structure. The building plots are like horizontal surfaces on the site, and the points where the level drops between the surfaces are covered by up to 4-metre high bastions clad with Norwegian slate.
CFB is composed of two slender wings. They are a reinterpretation of DTU’s original 100m wings, but these are staggered to allow light in, and the building is further divided into two independent parts by an airy, longitudinal atrium space. The building’s eastern wing houses the more specialised laboratory functions, while in the western, more open wing there are flexible office spaces.
The building is located close to the neighbouring buildings, but, unlike DTU campus’s extremely extensive outdoor spaces, CFB lends an intimate urban-feel to the immediate environment around the building. The landscape spaces abut the building’s ground floor, and the inner and outer staircase occupies the gradient of the land out of consideration for the building’s users. The staircase is used for recreation both indoors and out, and for breaks on special occasions it serves as seating for the students.
The building’s flexible, modular layout provides ideal support for the dynamic flow in the building, while reducing the need for major, expensive changes. This ensures immediate functionality in terms of current use, while also constituting a sustainable building in overall financial terms.
The main focus of the building’s interior is to support the sense of closeness and accessibility between research units, even though they are distributed over six floors. Another essential element of the interior design is the basement, which serves as an inner street with shared facilities for both the research centre and DTU’s students and staff. The ceiling here is clad with golden anodized aluminium sheets, investing the space with a warm, striking atmosphere.
Even though the density of the building disrupts the rest of the DTU campus, in many ways its contemporary approach interacts with the overall entity. CFB is located right next to the large Life Science & Bioengineering building complex. Together with this and the other buildings, it forms a great framework around Kemitorvet, which is a setting for regular organised events.
The black matt aluminium façades stand out with a clear layering of black aluminium cornices, which scale the height of the building. In the vertical modular system of black aluminium slats the distance between the slats is 3.0m. The module system is staggered so the scale of the huge surface dissolves and assumes a human scale. To add identity and a touch of warmth, the entire building features golden, anodized, perforated aluminium, the colour, texture and shape of which refers to DTU’s yellow brickwork and the vertical plank cladding.
Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects provided lead consultancy services for the project.