The desire to understand the natural world has always been at the heart of human innovation but has gained critical urgency as globalism accelerates the cycle between our impact on the world and the world’s impact on us. The new Veterinary Building at Campus Ås, officially opened in the fall of 2021, was conceived with this cycle in mind. It is the largest overall development in the university and college sector in Norway ever.
“It is the first campus of its kind,” says Karoline Igland, Head of Department at Henning Larsen’s Oslo office, who has played a major role in the project throughout the design and construction. “No building anywhere in the world unites the same range of researchers and experts or has the same requirements in terms of safety and readiness. In addition to being a technically advanced and highly secure facility, it also needed to be an open arena for students and faculty. The result you see today has required ten years of collaboration, research, and innovation.”
The Veterinary Building at Campus Ås is in fact eight distinct but linked buildings, uniting previously disparate resources (some of which were in Oslo, 30km to the north of NMBU’s main campus.) Developed for Statsbygg in cooperation with Multiconsult, Fabel Arkitekter, Link Arkitektur, and Erichsen + Horgen, the project is one of the largest and most complex construction projects ever undertaken in Norway.
A Building on a Mission
How do you design world-class research and learning facility, where people and animals can co-exist in a potential infectious and hazardous environment? The Norwegian government has set out to become one of the leading nations in education and research in biosafety and the spread of infectious diseases, and the new Veterinary Building at the Norwegian University of Life Science is designed to fulfil this ambition.
The project is a bridging of gaps between great and small, hazardous and safe, clinical and human, isolated and connected. Despite its vast scale, which packs over 2,400 rooms into the building’s 95,000 m2 of floorspace, the interiors at the Veterinary Building at Campus Ås feel almost cozy. The building rarely rises over four stories and is subdivided into eight wings which are themselves distributed between the building’s two primary programs: the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian University of Life Science.
The highly sensitive and even hazardous spaces the campus houses, such as the Veterinary Building’s laboratories for infectious disease research and surgical suites (and corresponding logistical spaces), are bound in the center, protected by a permeable barrier of public program that rings the campus’ exterior. Students and university visitors can venture almost all the way into the heart of the building without experiencing the risk intrinsic to the building’s function it is broken into smaller modules that can be individually locked down if needed rather than putting the entire facility on perpetual lockdown.
“The breadth of facilities at Campus Ås is unique and comprehensive by design,” explains Karoline Igland. “Breakthroughs happen when we share knowledge and work together, and Campus Ås combines both the highly technical and social spaces that foster those kinds of cooperations.”
World-Class Research Facility and Open Learning Environment in One
Where you learn can have a tremendous effect on your ability to take in and retain knowledge. Research in recent years (including that of Henning Larsen PhD researcher Krister Jens) has shown that informal and social spaces within higher education facilities can have measurable outcomes in learning and innovation. The interlinked structures of the Veterinary Building at Campus Ås function with this in mind: between the stables, aquariums, animal clinics, hydrotherapy pools, riding halls, BSL 3 laboratories, autopsy rooms, classrooms, offices, libraries, and canteens, social spaces make room for researchers, faculty, students, and visiting experts to meet and learn from each other – both formally and informally.
Things are no less complex in the research/clinical areas where, rather than facilitating casual meetings between people, different spaces must be carefully separated to avoid cross contamination. Even the animals must be carefully separated, with veterinary program divided between small and large animal clinics and subdivided further to separate healthy/injured animals from those that are ill.
Fitting In, Standing Out
Behind the venerable original building on what was previously known as the Norwegian University of Agricultural Sciences on Ås, situated in an open landscape of soft hills, the long and low profile of the Veterinary Building at Campus Ås allows it to fit in to its campus surroundings while still standing out. In a beautiful park with plants, flowers and open waterways is the new Veterinary Building, matched in color to the antiquarian buildings on campus.
The façade is built up of over 300,000 hand-cut bricks, each coal fired to give them an individual sheen and texture. The reddish-brown hue of the bricks also matches the surrounding campus structures, some of which date back to the campus’ foundation in 1859. Native plantings surround the bulk of the new building and can also be found up above, where sedum roofs support a prosperous insect habitat.
The new Veterinary Building at Campus Ås officially opened on 1 September 2021 for 700 students and almost 1.000 employees.
Campus Ås Veterinary Building | Project Details
The project is the biggest building project in the educational sector in Norway ever.
In 2008 Norwegian Ministry of Education decided that the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences should be relocated from the center of Oslo to Ås, 34 km south of the capital.
In 2012 Henning Larsen won the competition to design and built the new Veterinary Building at Campus Ås together with Multiconsult, Økaw Arkitekter (now Fabel Arkitekter), Hjellnes Consult and NNE Pharmaplan.
In 2020 the new building was opened for a trial period, and in September 2021 the students had moved in, and the new campus was inaugurated with the Norwegian Queen Sonja present.
The Veterinary Building at Campus Ås is made up of 2,400 rooms across seven buildings, each housing:
- The Norwegian Veterinary Institute
- Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences
- Laboratory building
- Morphology building
- Livestock clinic
- Horse clinic and stables
- Small animal’s clinic
- Teaching laboratories each with a capacity of approx. 90 students.
- Livestock wetlab and examination room for training
- Examination rooms for horses, cats, dogs
- Physiotherapeutic training department with hydrotherapy pool.
- Rooms for lung capacity examination on a treadmill for horses and shoeing horses and production of horseshoes.
- 6 operating rooms for pets and 3 operating rooms for horses.
- Joint imaging examination and treatment rooms for both the equine and domestic animal clinics.
- Both the equine and family animal clinics have their own infection and isolation wards.
- Auditoriums designed for the display of live animals, and auditoriums designed for dissection and autopsy.
- 16 autopsy and dissection rooms