Schilperoort Memorial


From darkness to light. The Schilperoort memorial forms the northern entrance to the park carrying the same name. It marks the movement out of the darkness of ignorance into the light. A symbolic gateway to science, erected to honor the namesake and give lasting prominence. Emphasis is placed on the role of chemist Prof. Rob Schilperoort (1938-2012) as initiator of the Bio Science Park in 1984.

Schilperoort brought scientific research and entrepreneurship together. On the site of the former Clusius laboratory where he worked, there is now an abstract sculpture of two concrete wall elements. Weighty and convinced, but from a different angle sharp and illuminated, it has the features of his personality.

First there is the view of the concrete relief by Lex Horn that previously hung in the entrance hall of the laboratory, then the park path winds its way towards the sun and the Schilperoort memorial frames the Naturalis collection tower in the distance. In the brass lining of the portal the memory of the namesake is described and his image is engraved. The golden yellow sheen contrasts with the rough stony material from which the slabs themselves are constructed. With time, a ‘green waterfall’ is created on the overgrown skin, a microbiotope of mosses and lichens.

The wall of science acts as the center of gravity of the monument, a heavier block that is at once light and transparent through numerous perforations, providing a filtered view on the park. Piercing rings with round holes in a regular pattern that evokes an association with the many terrarium jars from the lab. On the south side, a bench come forward from wall that emphasizes the memorial as a moment of contemplation.

The pillar of entrepreneurship is narrower and more slender. This makes an acrobatic movement to the wall of science. In place where they seem to touch, a gap remains that reflects the sunlight and accentuates the encounter, but postpones it.

Client: Universiteit Leiden Type: Art Duration: 2019-2023 Status: Completed Design team: Alex Letteboer (project leader), Federica Francalancia, Giulio Minuto, Pieter Scholten