The Biosintrum is the beating hart of the biobased economy in Ooststellingwerf, a knowledge centre consisting of more than 80% biobased materials. It won the Dutch Construction award 2019 (De Nederlandse Bouwprijs 2019) in the category buildings, and has a BREEAM Outstanding rating for its overall sustainability. The Y-shaped building offers space to a restaurant, meeting and teaching rooms, offices and a laboratory. At the heart is an atrium with study spaces, including a skylight. Summum Engineering provided the structural analysis for the skylight, a 5.8m ETFE inflatable cushion.

This ETFE inflatable dome, delivered and constructed by Buitink Technology, is the centrepiece of the Biosintrum building in Oosterwolde, designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects. The dome has a span of 5.8m and consists of four layers of ETFE foil, meaning three air chambers. Although ETFE is not biobased, it is purportedly 100% recyclable and has a guaranteed service life of at least 30 years. It is extremely lightweight, each layer weighing no more than 0.5 kilograms per square meter, which in turn leads to cascading savings on the underlying timber structure and its foundation.

Summum Engineering was asked to perform structural calculations on the ETFE cushion, taking into account wind and snow loads, as well as water accumulation in the event of power failure or severe damage to the foils, combined with excessive rainfall. Rainwater loads are not covered by code, so a study was carried out using statistical models from the Dutch meteorological institute (KNMI) as input. Furthermore, ETFE itself is not yet covered by code, so European recommendations from TensiNet and prospects for a future Eurocode were used instead.



Project client
Gemeente Ooststellingwerf

Buitink Technology

Paul de Ruiter Architects

Natuurlijk bouwen | Bouwbedrijf Buiteveld, Doornenbal, De Jong (main contractor)
Buitink Technology (ETFE)

Structural engineering 
Adviesbureau Lüning (main timber structure)
Summum Engineering (ETFE)

    Location: Oosterwolde, Netherlands
    Time: March 2018 (engineering), February 2019 (completion)

    Services: Structural engineering

    Biosintrum winnaar De Nederlandse Bouwprijs | Bouwwereld | February 4th, 2019

    Gewoon doen. Dat trekt innovaties aan | Stedebouw & Architectuur | January 15th, 2019

    Bouwen met schimmel, jeans en olifantsgras | Financiële Dagblad

    Friesland wil vooroplopen in het hergebruik van bouwmaterialen | Volkskrant | January 4th, 2018

    Biosintrum: circulariteit op zijn Fries | Cobouw | December 5th, 2017

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