Aurora opened: a light, flexible, and sustainable university building

Published on
October 1, 2021

Aurora officially opened on 30 September. The new university building at Wageningen University & Research lets in a lot of sunlight, can be set up flexibly, is full of greenery, and is nearly energy neutral.

Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn and on a sunny morning you can see how the new university building got her name. The central open space reaches to the roof — the fifth floor — and both the roof and the walls of the building consist of glass. When the sun rises in the east, natural light immediately fills large sections of the building. This effect is magnified by the receding terraces on the floors. Aurora was designed by LIAG architects + engineers.

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Research has demonstrated that the feeling a building gives people impacts their study performance. Aurora has been made so bright and spacious that it promotes a feeling of freedom, as though you are outside. Additionally, the building is full of green plants and trees. This is a positive influence on the 2500 students that Aurora can accommodate.

No gas or fossil fuels

Aurora is a sustainable building: it is nearly energy neutral and does not use gas or fossil fuels. Instead, the roof is equipped with solar panels, and there are two heat pumps in the cellar to heat the water. Like other Wageningen University & Research buildings, Aurora will also be connected to a new, circular heat network.

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What is Aurora all about? Education. The largest lecture hall has seats for 450 students. It can also be divided into two spaces. Other halls can be divided with moveable walls. They contain multiple presentation screens for work in smaller groups, and it is easy to move or remove the furniture. The entire wall in one of those rooms can be used as a whiteboard. This makes a range of new forms of education possible.

When the coronavirus measures applied, small halls for up to 75 people could easily be created in Aurora, which were just as easily enlarged again when the measures changed.

Education of the Future

The construction of Aurora took about two years. The toilets in the building show just how much can change in a short time. In the lower floors of the building, they are still separated for men and women. However, the upper floors have gender-neutral toilets.

The large auditorium where up to 450 students can attend a lecture. (Photo: Guy Ackermans)
The large auditorium where up to 450 students can attend a lecture. (Photo: Guy Ackermans)

Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol is enthusiastic about the new building. “Aurora is a fantastic education building, and it sets a new standard. It will ensure Wageningen University & Research remains at the forefront as an innovative and sustainable educational institution.”

During the opening, he spoke about the education of the future and the architects and the builders spoke about their work. Students guided visitors around the building to show the possibilities offered by the practical rooms and innovation rooms.

The opening of Aurora.
The opening of Aurora.