The Natura Artis Magistra Zoo (known as Artis) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. Founded in 1838, Artis contains 27 historic buildings, making it a unique cultural heritage of the 19th century.
When two of these buildings – ‘het Groote Museum’, previously used to house several television studios, and ‘de Ledenlokalen’, previously closed to the public, – were renovated, a new mechanical room was needed for their heating and cooling systems.
The initial plan was to replace the existing mechanical room within the main building, but the owner’s decision to use that space for a different purpose led to a small basement area underneath the Artis Square being allocated for a new mechanical room.
This needed to accommodate a second heat pump to serve Micropia, a museum dedicated to micro-organisms in a newly constructed floor on top of the ‘Ledenlokalen’.
The historic nature of the buildings, the fine architecture, extreme space and access constraints and the need to keep the zoo open for visitors presented contractor Imtech with a challenging set of circumstances. Feeling confident in their previous experience with Victaulic, they chose to use the company again to help solve the challenges ahead of them.
Imtech project leader, Ronald van Haasteren, was able to outline the general requirements of the system, but rather than have the basic drawings produced inhouse, as usual, he called on the Victaulic Construction Piping Services (CPS) team for engineering assistance at the outset.
The Victaulic CPS experts set about positioning the essential equipment and designing the piping system from scratch within the allocated space.
Measuring just 8m square and approximately 2m high, the space proved too small to house the mechanical room: either a rethink on requirements or more space was necessary. Artis then gave approval for a second adjacent basement to be dug out so that the components and piping could be divided into two.
“Although working in two separate areas added complications to an already complex project, it was now feasible. We produced new drawings to create a model where everything fitted and then split the job into four sections: two in each basement. The originally designated basement became the site for the first phase of the installation, where production could start while the new area was being prepared as the secondphase site,” said CPS Piping Coordinator Lieven Luypaert.
Tightness of space made the mechanical room not only difficult to design but also to install. Restricted access to the job site was anadditional complication.
The basements could only be accessed by a space of around 1m square. It was quite impossible for all materials to be delivered at once and the above-ground area set aside for deliveries had to be reduced to allow for further ongoing construction of the Artis Square where the basements were located.
A highly efficient just-in-time delivery arrangement was essential for the installation to progress. CPS met this requirement by producing a bill of materials designed per zone with items bagged and tagged for delivery to the correct area when needed, keeping as much of the site as possible free for the installers to work in. As the installation grew and working space became smaller, this ‘bag and tag’ system became evenmore vital.
Engineering work started in summer 2013, but altered decisions and a series of necessary changes to engineering drawings meant that first drawings for the mechanical room were not submitted until November 2013. The final design was approved in March 2014 and construction started in late July 2014.
Earlier delays significantly compressed the schedule for the installation that had a one-year timeline for completion, yet the project was delivered at the end of November 2014, exactly one year from when the first drawings were completed.
Additionally ground-water problems due to flooding which would have made welding impossible did not stop subcontractor Random Installatietechniek from installing grooved-end products. Peter Van Mol, Victaulic sales engineer for the Netherlands and Belgium, supported the installation on site and ensured everything went smoothly.
Using Installation–Ready couplings reduced the time needed to connect pipework, as there were no loose parts and no need to disassemble the coupling before installation.
Prefabrication also helped claw back lost time. The provision of cut-length sheets for the pipe enabled 90% of the pipe to be prefabricated offsite and delivered ready for installation at the right time and place.
“There was no alternative to get this job completed than installing Victaulic products. Welding in such confined space and access constraints was impossible and we wouldn’t have been able to meet the tight deadline,” said van Haasteren.
Hans Bongers, Lead Engineer at Imtech, added, “It was a very complex project and we knew from previous jobs that Victaulic could add value. The biggest benefit was their extra input on the engineering side which gave us a workable design and helped us deliver the project on time.”