National Military Museum SoesterbergSoesterberg
National Military Museum SoesterbergSoesterberg
National Military Museum SoesterbergSoesterberg
National Military Museum
Heijmans @ Ventures B.V.
Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten
Project scope

30.000 m²

Completion time
2011 – 2014

The National Military Museum opened in 2014 at the former Soesterberg airfield. The museum houses collections of the Delft Army Museum and the Military Aviation Museum of Soesterberg. On behalf of Heijmans, Felix Claus Dick of Wageningen Architecten designed a museum with an extraordinary large roof area.

The roof of the museum is the size of four football pitches, making it a true engineering marvel. The steel construction needed to be stiff enough to accommodate the glass façades while also spanning distances of up to 85 metres. The mullions are on the outside of the glass panels and, like the roof awnings on all sides, are subjected to changes in temperature. ABT designed a three-dimensional grid of beams consisting of trusses running in two directions. Relatively lightweight steel sections in the four-metre-high construction distribute the loads. The roof is largely visible, making it the museum’s most prominent architectural feature.

As light as possible
The challenge was to make a roof design that could carry 72 (to be determined) load and hanging combinations. To achieve this, 150 to 300 tests were required. Conventional calculation methods were no longer sufficient, therefore ABT developed an Optimization Toolkit: software that can calculate the most optimal roof construction based on a set of conditions. The result is a roof that weighs not 100, but 60 kilos per square meter: it's light, durable and beneficial. And thus contributes significantly to the affordability and sustainability of the museum. Besides cost savings, this also means less CO2 emissions from steel production, processing, transport and assembly.

In addition to museum pieces hanging on the walls, the space will also hold heavy freestanding objects such as tanks. Naturally, the floor needed to be able to withstand the accompanying point concentrated loads. ABT calculated that the entire building would require a steel foundation. The floor was secured in the sandy substrate of the area – the Utrechtse Heuvelrug – using grouted anchors.  On top of that, hybrid concrete was poured; the resulting floor is thin, as well as strong and rigid. The secret to the floor is the presence of mesh reinforcement and a clever concrete mixture that includes added steel fibre.

Aircrafts of more than 10 tons had to be hanging in special flight positions. Engineering the possibilities was definitely no sinecure. While still working on the roof construction, ABT was already busy working on the hanging positions. This has resulted in an ingenious engineering of hanging points, steel cables and attachment points so that aircrafts could be hung in all sorts of positions.

The weight saving in the steel roof and the concrete floor contributes greatly to the durability of the building. In addition, 3,240 solar panels were installed on the roof construction, which together generate 753 MW of power each year. In close consultation with Heijmans, ABT determined the location and angle of the solar panels.

The steel structure of the roof received a nomination for the "Vernufteling 2013".

In the category of Utilities, the National Military Museum received the National Steel Prize 2016 (Nationale Staalprijs 2016).

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