Temporary move for workgroups and study associations

Educational buildings on Drift get a major makeover

de Drift
Photo: DUB

The facelift soon to be given to the historic city centre buildings at Drift 21, 23 and 25 includes a refurbishment of the floors and walls. In addition, the university wants to improve the air quality inside the buildings, as well as other sustainability-related measures.

To make the buildings more accessible to wheelchair users, there will be a passageway between Drift 21 and 23. The first floor of Drift 21 will then be accessible through the elevator at Drift 23.

Renovation works at Drift 23 will start as early as this academic year. Humanities students who have classes in one of the ten tutorial rooms in the fourth semester may have to go to Daltonlaan, in Rijnsweerd, for their lectures. 

Considering there are usually fewer contact hours in the last term, the faculty hopes that many educational activities will still be accommodated in the city centre, though it cannot guarantee this.

Classes in the 22 classrooms at Drift 21 and 25 will continue as usual for the time being. Works will begin in early February 2025. From that time onward, the three buildings will not be used for two years. They will be available for teaching activities again early in 2027.

The Faculty of Humanities hopes to have much more pleasant teaching spaces at its disposal in four years’ time. Students will be involved in the design at several stages. For example, neurodiverse students will soon be able to indicate their preferences when it comes to light and colours in the lecture halls.

Study associations will move before the summer
Although the renovation of Drift 21 is not planned to start until the beginning of 2025, some preparatory work will already take place this summer. For this reason, the study associations of nine Humanities programmes will have to move to the second floor of Kromme NieuweGracht 80 this summer.

The associations were told last academic year that the renovation of their building was imminent, but at the end of September, it suddenly became clear that they would have to move much earlier than anticipated. The faculty says the move is temporary and that the associations will return to Drift eventually.

Study experience
“This came as a surprise,” says Noa Hermans, chair of History study association UHSK. She thinks it’s a shame that the association will lose its home near the library and other lecture halls. 

“Of course, it’s only a five-minute walk, but still... People won’t be able to visit as easily. At the same time, we are happy to stay in the city centre and not have to go to De Uithof or something like that.”

According to Stefan in ‘t Zand, of Philosophy association FUF, the closure of the Drift buildings will have a major impact on Humanities students’ experience of their programme. They usually meet in the university library and in the workgroup rooms at Drift, which are also where the premises of their study associations are located. “As an association, we are now losing our home. Of course we don’t like that.”

But he is pragmatic: “It is definitely time for a major renovation.” Moreover, he hopes that some Philosophy classes will soon take place at the new location on Kromme Nieuwegracht.

Moving together
The associations have quite a few questions about the move, though. The members have only been sparingly informed about what is going to happen. For example, UHSK is concerned about the large storage space they now have. What’s going to happen with that? “The uncertainty about things like that is annoying,” says Noa.

The faculty has announced that there will be a few more meetings such practical matters can be discussed. According to Stefan, the associations will get together soon to discuss common concerns  as well as wishes for the new location.

Ultimately, the university intends for the nine associations to move at the same time. This will probably happen shortly before the summer. The faculty will arrange and pay for the move.

Not in one street
Faculty Director Miranda Jansen understands that the study associations are sad, but she says that Humanities students meet each other at other places besides Drift as well.

“Our teaching spaces are spread throughout the city centre. We are located on Kromme Nieuwegracht, Janskerkhof and also on the UCU campus. In a few years’ time, a large educational centre will be built between Achter de Dom and Achter Sint Pieter and a considerable part of the study experience will take place there. We’re talking limited distances in the city centre. It might be the price we have to pay to have a large faculty with over 7,000 students in a beautiful downtown area. We can’t all fit in one street.”