BSS not going to Healthy Ageing Campus

Friday 24 June 2016

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The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) is not moving to the Healthy Ageing Campus after all. Due to an expected decrease in the number of students in the coming years, the faculty can remain in the Hortusbuurt, provided the Heijmans building is revamped.


Along with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, BSS was supposed to move into a new building at the to-be-built Healthy Ageing Campus, next to the Infoversum. The education building was meant to be a replacement for the temporary classrooms at the Bloemstraat. However, the faculty did not think the move would work out and wanted to have smaller classrooms close to the Grote Kruisstraat instead.

Their wish appears to have been granted. According to the Property and Investment Projects (VGI) office of the university, the relocation of BSS is no longer necessary now that the total number of expected students has decreased. The faculty estimated in 2010 that they would have around 4,700 students on average, but now, they are expecting around 3,700 students due to demographic developments in the coming years. According to VGI, this means that the rental agreements for the Bloemstraat locations can be terminated and there will still be sufficient space to accommodate all students in the Hortusbuurt.

Renovation
However, this development does mean that the buildings at the current locations need to be renovated. Due to the relocation of the faculty library to the UB (University Library), at the end of this year, a great deal of space will become available in the Heijmans building. VGI wants to renovate the wing and create three floors housing a modern restaurant, study rooms and classrooms, a construction job which is estimated to cost 4.9 million euros.

The number of offices in the building also has to be reduced in order to create more room for educational spaces. The current offices for fulltime instructors, which are 14 sq m, will be reduced to 10 sq m. The available office space can be organised more efficiently, sustainably and flexibly, says the VGI.

Worries
The faculty is happy that the move is not going ahead and that all activities can be carried out at a single location in the future. However, BSS does see several hurdles ahead. ‘The plan can only work if there is enough support for it’, the faculty board writes in a letter to the University Board. ‘Staff, students and other users of the building must be convinced that the work and study environments are designed in such a way that they can function well within them and carry out their tasks.’

Additionally, the faculty board questions whether or not the historic buildings will actually provide the required space upon completion of the renovations. ‘Theoretical and computer models of the space often do not reflect the unruly reality of old buildings.’

Further investigation by VGI will determine whether the renovation plans can be carried out.

Source: Ukrant, by Peter Keizer / translation by Mina Solanki