Renovations at social sciences
More room to study and a nice new cafeteria
First things first: the renovation is on schedule. The building at the Grote Kruisstraat will be finished in April, after which the interior will be furnished. The grand re-opening will be in September at the start of the new academic year.
‘The renovation was sorely needed’, says Marleen Iemhoff, BSS facility manager. ‘The building was really dated. It was single glazed everywhere and the climate control and acoustics were awful. The restaurant was also poorly designed.’
And so students and staff as BSS have been working at a building site for the past eighteen months. There isn’t as much room to study and the cafeteria has temporarily been moved to the bicycle parking facility. ‘That was quite the project, but I think the solution turned out nice’, says Iemhoff.
Stage in the cafeteria
The new cafeteria will add twenty more seats and will have a new entryway, which means the cafeteria will no longer be used as a passage to the outside. There are also plans to build a stage for events in the left corner. Iemhoff: ‘One idea is to get some picnic tables that can be folded to form a stage. But we haven’t quite figured it out yet.’
According to Iemhoff, it’s very important that the cafeteria is connected to the garden, where students and neighbours of the faculty like to sit and relax. To that end, the construction crew installed large windows with swinging doors. The new colours were also a conscious choice. ‘We’re working with natural colours like green, yellow, and grey. We’re also putting a lot of plants in the cafeteria.’
Renovating a building that people are still working and studying in is not easy, says construction supervisor Tonnie Veltien. ‘One of our biggest challenges was time management.’ Drilling and demolition are always done in the morning. ‘We start at six thirty and have until nine to make all the noise. In the afternoon we do work that’s quieter.’
A wooden staircase, in keeping with the natural theme, leads to the first floor. Here, they’re creating three statistics classrooms with computers. They’ve also added 88 extra seats and 52 meeting locations. The first floor will also be home to a lounge room where people can have coffee.
There are 122 seats on the second floor, meant for serious, quiet studying. ‘A proper learning factory’, says Iemhoff. ‘You’ll go from talking in the cafeteria to some light noise on the first floor, to total silence on the second floor.’
The climate will be regulated through heated air that will be piped in through the ceiling. ‘That means that people won’t have to open a window, although they can if they want to.’
Have they solved the lack of study spaces? Iemhoff thinks so. ‘We haven’t had any study rooms for almost two years, and people are finding room even now. The two floors are fully dedicated to students. The second floor used to be filled with bookshelves and other storage units. Those have all gone.’
The renovation will help students in other ways. When the building reopens, they’ll be able to sit in the same chairs the UB has, which the students themselves selected. ‘I’ve had a lot of contact with the student assessor and I’ve also involved the chairpersons of study associations like VIP and Societas in the renovations’, says Iemhoff.
There are of course still issues. ‘People complain about the noise or the lack of space. And I would’ve loved a larger budget for the interior design. But it is what it is.’
Iemhoff is proudest of the bay windows on the second floor. ‘The way the light comes in through those windows is amazing. I guarantee you that they will become popular studying spots. Reserved for the Student of the Week.’
Photos by Valeska Schietinger