With the Veterinary Research Building, or VRB in short, Ghent University wants to stimulate veterinary research. The new research building houses labs, laboratory stables and offices;
The VRB, which was inaugurated on November 24th 2015, provides new accommodation for the
department Virology, Parasitology and Immunology. The site, which seemed to be large enough
in 1996, when it was first used, appeared to become too small to accommodate the ever-growing
number of students and researchers.
Additionally, adapted L3 labs and A3 stables were required where research on potentially
dangerous pathogens can be performed safely. Numerals are used to indicate the degree of
biohazard: eg. L3, in which L stands for lab, indicates a higher risk than L2. The ‘A’, as in A2 or
A3-stables, stands for ‘animals’.
Focus on safety
Next to the general safety conditions for men, animals and environment, animal welfare was
particularly taken into consideration in the design and completion of the stables. Using
appropriate finishing materials, the stables can be easily maintained, and the risk of injuries is
reduced to a minimum
One of the technical challenges was the installation that decontaminates contaminated
wastewater. This decontamination system, which costs about 1 million euros, has been designed
to thermically inactivate, or ‘to autoclave’, wastewater coming from the labs of the VRB and the
stables behind the “hoogbouw”’. During this procedure, the wastewater becomes free of
pathogens and can hence be treated as normal wastewater.
Another challenge was the annexation of the VRB to the existing buildings, guaranteeing a
smoother collaboration between colleagues. The new building has been linked to the second
floor of the “hoogbouw” by a passerelle.
The new VRB fits into the masterplan of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which was drawn up
in 2007. This masterplan reflects the ambition of Ghent University to set an example as an
university research institute and be a pioneer in international veterinary research.
Next to the completion of the Veterinary Research Building, the campus of the Faculty of
Veterinary Medicine has undergone additional changes. In March 2014, the construction of the
expansion of the department Medicine and Clinical Biology of Small Animals was started. To
date, this extended building is ready to be used, and the new compartment for laboratory dogs is
already being used, along with the new medical premises and the expanded offices.
At the end of 2014, the renovated water treatment plant was fully operational. The effluent, or
treated water, now has the status of surface water quality and does no longer need to pass public
sewers. This effluent is efficiently reused to clean the stables.
A next project coming is the construction of a new restaurant. The existing restaurant will be
converted into a cafeteria
Together with the construction of the Veterinary Research Building, the new developments
demonstrate the never-ending ambition of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of looking to the future and adapt and innovate when necessary.