“Building ‘Vaccinopolis’ in 1.5 years due to global urgency”
ANTWERP/ZONHOVEN – 5 October 2020 – The University of Antwerp recently received a visit from Queen Mathilde. Her Majesty was given an explanation of ‘Vaccinopolis’, the progressive complex that permits accelerated testing of new vaccines. It was announced on Monday which construction partners have been granted the right to lead the prestigious project: and that honour belongs to the appropriately named IMM/Unity consortium. Due to the worldwide demand for vaccines, the partners will build the innovation centre in 1.5 years (instead of the usual four to five years) while respecting the exceptionally high safety standards that are required for such a facility.
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Because the climate is changing, and people are living closer together, getting older, travelling more, etc., viruses are spreading faster than ever before. This is why vaccine development is one of the major global challenges of today.The Belgian federal government is therefore investing €20 million in the establishment of a European anti-infection unit, with specialised infrastructure in Antwerp (UAntwerp) and in Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)). Contributions are also being made by private partners.
Led by Prof. Arnaud Marchant (ULB), a high-quality immunological laboratory is being built in Brussels. From the beginning of 2021, the Vaccinopolis vaccine centre, where top talents from different disciplines will come together, will be built on the Drie Eiken Campus of Antwerp University. “The complex will consist of a clinical test room, laboratories, offices, consultation rooms, and accommodation and relaxation facilities,” says Prof. Pierre Van Damme (UAntwerp). “This will allow us to test vaccines on up to 30 people in quarantine conditions simultaneously. We will do this through the Controlled Human Infection Models (CHIM). In this human challenge study, healthy vaccinated subjects will actually be challenged through exposure to a limited version of a particular pathogen. This will help us develop and test vaccines quickly and cost-effectively.”
UAntwerp opts for the experienced IMM/Unity consortium
The IMM/Unity consortium has been granted the contract to manage the construction process, UAntwerp announced on Monday. The main reasons behind that decision? The experience and specialisation of the partners in similar projects.
“We work according to a so-called ‘Design, Build and Maintain’ formula (DBM),” says architect Roy Pype (Proof of the sum). “Proof of the sum, Exilab, Abstract Architects, burO Groen and Establis are responsible for the integral design (Design). The construction (Build) will be looked after by Jansen Building Group, Jansen Cleanrooms and Cordeel. And finally, Imtech Belgium and Jansen Cleanrooms will take care of the maintenance for 15 years (Maintain).”
Setting a fire under the shoes for Vaccinopolis
Exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures. COVID-19 proves viruses can strike quickly and unexpectedly. This is why the project partners are shortening the usual lead time to 1.5 years (normally 4-5 years): Vaccinopolis will open its doors on 1 March 2022.
Eric Vanhees (COO Jansen Cleanrooms) is happy to work on this prestigious project: “The challenge is to reconcile the extremely short turnaround time with the required biotechnological safety level. Due to the global urgency, we are shortening each phase of the process, from design (in a record time of five weeks) and negotiation (5 weeks) to permit application and implementation.
Thanks to the CD20 prefab building system, we can achieve a four-storey building in just nine months. In doing so, we will also respect the exceptional standards required by biosafety class 3. We will do this by thinking carefully about the circulation of people and materials in the building, building critical spaces in such a way that you can disinfect them separately, and opting for smooth (hygienic and easy to clean) finishing materials.”
For more information:
Peter De Meyer
Spokesman for the University of Antwerp
+32 476 20 07 54
Marketing manager, Jansen the Building Company
(Jansen Building Group & Jansen Cleanrooms)
+32 (0) 470 99 62 51