Eight university buildings may be given monument status

Kruyt, the brutalist concrete giant that is a favourite amongst film students

H.R. Kruytgebouw Foto: DUB
H.R. Kruyt building. Photo: DUB

Utrecht's Open Monument Day happened this past weekend, September 9 and 10. During those two days, people were welcome to visit iculturally and/or historically significant buildings for free, such as the Botanical Gardens, the Dom Tower, and the Rietveld Schröder house. The idea behind the event is showing the value of these buildings to the general public. Now, the municipality has nominated 38 buildings to the status of young monuments. By doing so, the city ensures that these buildings will not disappear. They will not be demolished or transformed. 

Kruyt building
The list includes eight buildings from Utrecht University, including the Educatorium, the Utrecht Science Park Library, the Minnaert building, the thermal energy plant at Limalaan, the Basket Bar, and the Hugo R. Kruyt building, all located at the Utrecht Science Park. The recently-renovated University Museum and the dining hall of the University College Utrecht were also included.

Kruyt is a remarkable choice, given it used to be a rather controversial building among the UU community. In the end, the university decided to keep the building and revamp it to make it future-proof.

Ilse Schipper-Pols, Communications Officer at Corporate Real Estate & Campus, is involved in the process. She explains why the Kruyt building made the list: “It’s not so much from a cultural or historical point of view. It's mainly because it’s such a solid building. People don't make buildings with such foundations nowadays. From the point of view of sustainability, it would also be an eternal shame to demolish a building like this.”

Kruyt's was built according to the rules of brutalism, an architectural style best known for its characteristic concrete structures, visible both inside and outside. Schipper-Pols: “There are people who think the Kruyt building is just an ugly, grey block, but others appreciate it. For example, we often get requests from students from the film school, wanting to film there because of its unique ambiance.”

The municipality nominated eight UU buildings for the status of monuments. In the coming months, the Real Estate & Campus department will study what the possible impact could be if the buildings are granted the status of monument.

Schipper-Pols: “One of the things we will do is look at what elements of the buildings should be protected, and what that means for the maintenance or redevelopment of a building.”

She can see why the buildings were nominated and indicates that the university is willing to take responsibility for protecting this young heritage. The definitive decision will follow in 26 weeks.

Relaxed rules
Utrecht University has some experience with monumental buildings already. The Marinus Ruppert building and the Sterrentoren (Star Tower) both have monument status.

Schipper-Pols explains that the status of Young Municipal Monument is less tricky and costly than that of a National Monument. The rules for young monuments are less strict because the buildings should be adapted for their time when needed. For example, it is possible to make the buildings more sustainable and people should still want to live there. According to Schipper-Pols, that means there won’t be a glass bell jar covering a building because it can never be changed in any way, nor will we have a situation where every slight adaptation will need to go through a lengthy permit process.

Tags: monument