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Faculty of Science

Amsterdam Science Park: A brief history

Today, Amsterdam Science Park is one of Europe's largest concentrations of scientific research and education institutes combined with established companies and start-ups. However, once upon a time the area was completely under water. How could Amsterdam Science Park become what it is today, and what does it have to do with the UvA Faculty of Science? Read about it in this brief timeline.

1629

1719: Map of the 'Watergraafsmeer' by Pieter Waterdrinker. A swan oversees the area during its glory days. Image: UvA University Library/Special Collections

In 1629, thanks to revolutionary technological advances, the area that is now home to Amsterdam Science Park, known as 'Watergraafsmeer', was reclaimed from the water. With dyke breaks being a thing of the past, wealthy Amsterdam townspeople invested in the land to build country houses and farmsteads. Today, the monumental Anna Hoeve (Anna’s Farmstead) is the only reminder of this previous life as agricultural land.

Sixties and seventies: the first scientists settle

In the middle of the 20th century, the Institute for Nuclear Physics Research (now Nikhef), is the first knowledge institute to settle in this ‘remote’ part of Amsterdam. They are joined by AMOLF in the 1960’s and CWI and SurfSARA in the 1980’s.

The biologists from the University of Amsterdam (at that time there is still a separate Faculty of Biology) also see the potential. From the late 1960’s onwards, different departments make the move from their locations next to Artis (Amsterdam's zoo) and the Hortus (Amsterdam's botanical garden). However, it isn’t until the 1990’s, with the arrival of the cell biologists, that the entire Faculty of Biology has made the move.

In the 1970's UvA's then Institute for Animal Physiology was one of the first UvA departments to move to Amsterdam Science Park. These buildings, designed by city architect N.J.J. Gawronski, have since undergone extensive renovations and are now known as Buildings E and G of the Faculty of Science complex. Photo: Amsterdam City Archive
In 1972 AMOLF (left) was still surrounded by allotments. On the right you can see Anna Hoeve with UvA’s biology buildings in the background. Photo: Amsterdam City Archive

Nineties: Wheels in motion

With several scientific institutes and the UvA biologists having flocked together in this area, wheels are set in motion. The City of Amsterdam, the National Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the University of Amsterdam see the enormous potential of what is to become Amsterdam Science Park: an area where the University’s science education and research, national research institutes, and science and technology based companies come together to benefit from each other’s proximity.

2000: One Faculty of Science

Related to the plans is the merger, in 2000, of the UvA Faculties of Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics, Informatics, Physics and Astronomy into a single Faculty of Science. In 2010, upon the completion of Science Park 904, all associated institutes and degree programmes move from different locations in the city to Amsterdam Science Park.

2008: The construction of Science Park 904, the Faculty of Science's home base since 2010

Today

The Amsterdam Science Park campus now has the highest concentration of university science education and research organisations in the Netherlands, and one of the highest in Europe. In addition, 120 knowledge-intensive companies, from promising start-ups to multinationals, make the park a hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of ICT, life sciences, advanced instrumentation and sustainability.

Amsterdam Science Park seen from the sky. Copyright: Amsterdam Science Park

Working or studying at our Science Park campus

Would you like to work or study in this inspiring environment, surrounded by world-renown researchers and innovative entrepreneurs? Then find your programme in our portfolio of taught Master's programmes or check out our vacancies.

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