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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Tandheelkunde Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands by Inbo

September 22nd, 2017 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Inbo

Project Description

Cross-pollination and encounter are key words in the design of the renovation of the Dental Sciences Building, part of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Radboud University and the Arnhem Nijmegen College. The renovated building combines theory and practice in education, research and patient care.

With a façade, a new central atrium and new installations, the building is making a sustainability transition aimed at energy saving, an increase in comfort, flexible use and a contemporary look. The right separation and connections between users, between practice spaces and teach and instruction rooms, changing and flexible use – including the longer term – and the choice of quality materials prepare the building for the future.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

  • Architects: Inbo
  • Project: Tandheelkunde Radboud University
  • Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Client: Universitair Vastgoed Bedrijf (university real estate company) of the Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Design Team: Inbo, Jeroen Simons: architecture of renovation and new building(s) and main design team
  • Deerns: installation, building physics, sustainability
  • Construction: Croes Bouwtechnisch Ingenieursbureau
  • Management and commercial operation: Facilicom
  • Interior and furnishings: Ex Interiors  in cooperation with Wiegerinck

Image Courtesy © Inbo


  • Building Management: Twijnstra Gudde
  • Contractor: Construction Consortium Trebbe-Van Wijnen-Kuijpers
  • Original Architect: P.Dijkema
  • Construction Costs: €29,150,000 including installations, excluding VAT
  • Surface Area: 25,077 m² of gross floor area
  • Original Year Of Construction: 1970
  • Start Of Design Phase : January 2013
  • Start Of Construction Phase: May 2015
  • Completion Of The Project: October 2016 first phase, June 2017 second phase

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Dental Precision

After earlier plans to construct a new building, the principal opted for the renovation of the prominent Dental Sciences Building, beloved by the university community. This offered a great opportunity to showcase the potential of the oft-maligned concrete architecture from that period. Like a Phoenix, the building was resurrected after 47 years, basking in its new-found glory. It is one of the few buildings designed by the architect Dijkema that will be retained on campus.

People, who have last seen the building years ago, have to look twice before they notice it has changed: the new façade of the high-rise is an interpretation of the old façade , the light elements in the old are now heavy and vice versa. Furthermore, a closer inspection reveals that the metal façade sections have a special transition from light to dark thanks to the glass. But especially the plinth course has changed: as it was once closed and felt hard is now transparent and inviting. This has improved the connection to and the significance for the campus. Building and surroundings mark the entrance to the campus.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Image Courtesy © Inbo

In its original situation, the low-rise building was very confusing. The downstairs clinic and the teach practices in the high-rise building were difficult to find. A major intervention in the renovation was the introduction of a clear and inviting ‘Kliniekenplein’ (Clinic Square) in the form of a central atrium, which furthermore introduces light into the heart of the building. Next to the atrium lies a series of beautiful lit treatment rooms which become a suitable place for children and people afraid of the dentist through its smart routing and soft materialisation.

The focus was using existing qualities and, if possible, designing by following the original building structure. The powerful concrete construction of the high-rise building is now visible. The heavy concrete floor beams are visible and increase the spatial feeling.Working on the special concrete construction in the high-rise building, the weight balance literally guided the design process. Removing the concrete weight allowed the placement of new façades with triple glass, light-weight concrete and anodised aluminium, with sun protection.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Image Courtesy © Inbo

The tectonic nature of the building has always been the starting point. Beautifully intricate stairwells, tiled floors and wall coverings have been restored to their former splendour. The craftsmanship in the formworkedconcrete core walls, cleaned of paint, characterize and provide guidance. The dental precision of the users contrasts nicely with the robustness of the building. The pallet of dark and light, fresh, smooth materials and colours completes the born-again nature of the sturdy building.

Motivating Working Environment

The newly renovated building for Dentistry and Dental Hygiene is a leader in combining education, research and patient care. The building stimulates synergy between all activities.

The dentistry program’s subject matter is about precisions and the pleasure of creation. The Dental Hygiene program is a training for healthcare provision focused on prevention, behavioural change and basic intervention. The most interesting part of the educational institution is the mix between theory and practice. Visitors can betreated here.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Inthe building you will meet staff, patients, students, tenants and visitors. Integration of various processes and logistical flows rises the question whether to consider an implementation of new procedures. The current requirements and wishes ensure that a completely new planning is required to realise clear flows of users while generating an open atmosphere. In the first impression the renovated building gives the focus is on the well thought-out substantive functionality as a learning and work environment for academic top education.

Optimalisation is achieved through planning according to activity/function instead of professional group or speciality. Cross-pollination and encounter are therefore the key words. The right separation and connections between practice spaces and teach and instruction rooms, changing and flexible use – including in the longer term – and the choice of quality materials come together to form a durable, energy-optimised and durable building.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

Image Courtesy © Inbo

In the Dental Sciences Building people study, work, do research and treat patients. For all the users of the building it has become better by its renovation: patients can now easily find their way. Flows of patient and movement of students, physicians and research have been disentangled and have become obvious. Education and practice are spatially connected. Clinics have been adapted to their work, in close consultation with the users. Workstations and research areas are transparent and open. In short, a building that works for all users and where you can find each other.

This the new atrium shows this clearly: a patient enters and immediately sees the teaching practice on the first and second floor. There, students gain practical experience by treating real patients. At coffee time a patient can bump into a student or a researcher. And if the patient arriving in the atrium looking down, might even see a student party going on. It will be immediately clear that his dentist is in a university building. While the flows of users are disentangled, the renovation has brought different users closer together. A special result.

Image Courtesy © Inbo


The project provides a significant contribution towards sustainability and the improvement of the sustainable use of the existing built environment. This concerns technical measures regarding materials, water and energy.

The work method Sustainable Chance for Existing Properties is used to achieve these ambitious sustainability targets. Firstly, the ratio of content to enveloping surface has been strongly improved for a reduction of heat demand. Subsequently, a new high-grade isolated façade with triple glass and an energy-generating photovoltaic roof have been installed. The north-facing atrium requires little cooling. Inside a smart presence detection controls the blinds, led lights, temperature and ventilation. With maximum comfort and minimal energy consumption. The architectonical wish to showall the concrete ensures an optimal heat accumulation.

Only 20% (!) of the original energy consumption is required.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

The existing on-campus heat/cold storage system was found to be inadequate for the Dental Sciences Building. Adding a new installation system was not permitted. A private energy storage system was therefore installed in the basement by using the sprinkler reservoirs as a buffer. A patent application was made for a smart innovation of the air treatment, Humidifree, which ensures additional heat recovery from the return air.


The Dental Sciences Building boasts a special mix of target groups. Besides students in dentistry and dental hygiene, various types of patients also visit the building. On the one hand, there are the ‘regular’ patients and on the other hand, there are patients with physical limitations and mental disabilities or simply anxious patients. In the interior design, all these target groups and their emotions have been taken into account.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

At the start of the design process a Japanese garden served as the starting point. The idea behind a Japanese garden is that a natural landscape is created in perfect detail. The gardens radiate tranquillity and serenity. In this interior said perfection is reflected in both the clear and minimalist layout and the choice of materials. Linear, white furniture and self-levelling floors are enriched with large carpets. The application of natural green-blue colours combined with warm wood shades form a beautiful contrast to the characteristic concrete of the building and thus enhance the original character.

When organising the ‘Kliniekenplein’ the focus was on the needs of the various patients: the square had to be clear, organised and had to look nice. After registering the patients at the reception desk, they are referred to the correct waiting area. These waiting areas are all visibly located along the ‘Kliniekenplein’ and are enclosed by waiting couches with a high back rest oriented towards the square. Waiting patients, thus experience both privacy and safety. To further prevent anxiety among these patient groups, no direct references to dentistry are present.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

At the square, there are also catering facilities. By building a roof construction over the atrium area, a shelter area is created that makes the stay more enjoyable. By combining warm wood shades with the softness of carpet this feeling is further reinforced.

On the side of the high-rise building an empty space connects the ground floor to the basement. The Learning Centre is accessible by a bridge over this empty space. The Learning Centre exudes the feel and identity of the Faculty of Dental Sciences by showing historical and modern dental equipment and techniques. Within the Learning Centre a pleasant ‘study landscape’ with light and open study and meeting areas is created. The new glass façade offers a full view of the green campus and the storey height of 5 metres ensures that this area is a highly pleasant place to study, blossom and cooperate. This space is optimally designed to that end with a minimum of means to let the spaciousness work effectively.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

The teaching practice is located on the first and second floor. Here, patients are helped by students in Dentistry and Dental Hygiene. On the third floor the skills lab and the research laboratory can be found. Here, students practice techniques and interventions on so-called mock-ups. On all these floors, the façade areas have received a uniform, clear, light and balanced colour palette while the cores are very powerfully finished in dark colours, mutually complementing each other.

The staff are located on the 4th and 5th floor. These workplaces are divided into three zones. The open workplaces are situated at the façades with in-between several multifunctional meeting rooms. Between the open workspaces and the central area, a zone was created for informal discussion, meetings and relaxation. In the central area, you can find concentration work places, brainstorm spaces, meeting rooms and storage areas.

Image Courtesy © Inbo

The original architecture with sober and honest materials, together with the constructive special quality and the users formed the basis of the interior design. The interior is seamlessly in line with the buildings architecture and has taken a timeless character. The trend-sensitive focus is in the flexibly designed meeting rooms and can simply be changed when it no longer satisfies the needs of the times.

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