Forum Groningen

Merford installs unique doors for technical rooms and acoustically decoupled rooms in Forum Groningen

An abstract and stately building, rising like a monolith from Groningen’s city centre: this is Forum Groningen. Opened in November 2019, the building has an understated yet distinctive design that will fascinate many a visitor and passer-by –just like it won over the jury of BNA Best Building of the Year, who declared Forum Groningen the winner of the 2020 edition. The multifunctional complex has a library, exhibition rooms, cinemas, and an auditorium. The middle section, comprising the long facades, is made entirely of glass in order to create a light and spacious central hall. BAM, the main contractor, commissioned Merford to assemble dozens of doors for several technical areas, the cinema rooms, and the auditorium.

  • BAM Utiliteitsbouw Regio Noord
  • Construction, Non-residential buildings
  • 2019

NL Architects

In 2007, both the peopleof Groningen and a professional jury chose the design by NL Architects from seven submissions submitted by international architectural firms. In 2012, BAM entered into discussions with Merford about the doors, which needed to enhance the acoustic decoupling between the cinema rooms or guarantee the fire safety of the technical areas. At the time, the parties involved couldn’t have suspected that the project would become mired in problems.


At the start of construction, 2017 was set as the planned year of opening; that date was postponed to 2019. Gas extraction in the region was causing an increase in seismic activity, and in 2015 –just when the subsidiary multi-storey car park had been completed –the decision was made to stop construction temporarily. Mark Scheepstra, project organiser at BAM, explains why. ‘The original design had to be revised. We flew in experts from New Zealand to help us make the right choices from a seismological perspective. The decisions we had to make were drastic but absolutely necessary.’ For instance, we incorporated stronger concrete and thicker steel beams into the design.

Walking through the immense building now, there’s barely any sign of the changes that led to the two-year brake on construction activities. That’s exactly how we wanted it to be,’ says Scheepstra. If you know what you’re looking for, you can uncover often minor interventions that weren’t part of the original building plans. These adaptations will allow people to evacuate the building safely in the event of an earthquake.’

Double-leaf tandem doors

Merford produced dozens of the doors that are installed in the Forum, especially for the rooms for which sound insulation was key. The cinema and the auditorium, which is the largest room in the Forum, had to be acoustically uncoupled. The double-leaf tandem doors eliminate the risk of noise leakage but can also be opened easily in case of an emergency. Merford assembled the doors itself, in several stages. Scheepstra says: The assembly went smoothly, despite the challenges we faced. For example, the lifts in the building were still not operational, but Merford was able to find a suitable workaround.’