Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The design for the new Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden (NL) forms a sustainable ensemble of existing buildings and new-build, with each activity housed in a specific form. The central atrium connects the various parts of the institute: the existing offices and depots with the newly built museum and laboratories. The design of the atrium consists of a three-dimensional concrete structure in the form of interlocking molecules as a lace of ovals, triangles and hexagons. The filtered light that enters through the circular windows as a ‘glass crown’ where scientists, staff, students and families meet, reinforcing the monumentality of the space. The layers of stones are interrupted by friezes of white, concrete elements designed by Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Invited by Neutelings Riedijk Architects, she designed a total of 263 panels, inspired by the natural shapes of the collection which seem to be smooth as silk, thanks to a special technique developed for Naturalis.

Project data


Darwinweg 2, Leiden NL


museum 17.000 m2, offices and depots 18.000 m2, laboratories 3.000 m2

Surface Area

45.000 m2

Year Of Completion



Yearbook: Architecture in The Netherlands 2020, The New York Times, Wallpaper, Dezeen, Archdaily, De Volkskrant, NRC Handelsblad, de Architect, A+U Japan, C3 Korea, db deutsche bauzeitung


Architectural Design
Neutelings Riedijk Architecten
Architectural Engineering
ABT BV Ingenieursbureau
Iris van Herpen, Tord Boontje
Building Physics
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Cost Consultant
IGG / Bointon de Groot
Landscape Architect
Main Contractor
J.P. van Eesteren
Huisman en van Muijen
Scagliola Brakkee
Structural Engineer
Aronsohn Raadgevende Ingenieurs