A look inside the new studios at Utrecht Science Park
The first pole (called a ‘pile’) for the student housing building, at the edge of the grounds of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, was driven into the ground by construction company Jan Snel on January 6. The high-rise buildings were completed not three months later. On June 11, the first resident received her key, although a true party wasn’t possible because of the corona crisis. Instead, she was virtually ‘welcomed’ in a playful vlog, in which UU president Anton Pijpers, Harry van Zandwijk (CEO Jan Snel), and Joost van Gestel (CEO Camelot Europe) toss her a key.
The construction of the studios helps to reduce the housing shortage. Although the UU isn’t a housing organisation, it wants to contribute to reducing the housing shortage amongst students. The UU wants to ensure that in the next 15 years, De Uithof becomes the home of 5,000 residents – currently, around 2,900 students live in De Uithof.
The temporary homes at the Limapad will remain there for 15 years. “But what was built from scratch now could last for 30 years,” says Camelot spokesperson Bob de Vilder. As soon as the registration link for the homes became available on June 9, the applications flooded in. “We had a whole team of people ready in the morning, and we received an application every minute; we could just see them flowing in. We had four hundred applications in no time.”
Half of the homes are assigned by the UU; Camelot lets the other half to new tenants itself. They should all be residents who have a connection to the UU. Most of the residents are international students, thinks building administrator Michiel van Rhijn, but Dutch students are welcome, too. “We’re also seeing a lot of medicine students, for example.” The UU can also assign a home to a foreign teacher or researcher.
The studios are around 18 square metres, and are all furnished. Prices start at 520 euros a month. The studios’ rent is under the rent limit for liberalised tenancy agreements, which means residents can apply for housing allowance. For 100 of the homes, it’s also possible to apply for housing allowance if the resident is between 18 and 23 years old.
De Vilder: “The studios are quite luxurious, really. Everything is new. Each studio has a kitchenette, a bathroom, and sometimes a refrigerator and microwave. We made good use of the square footage we had, so there’s a lot of storage space beneath the bed.” The building also has a laundrette.
Although the buildings look a little bare and scanty on the outside, the interior is colourfully decorated. Each floor has its own chill room, with a brand-new, fashionable interior. The rooms are filled with sofas, pool tables, foosball tables, and there’s a ‘swap library’ and a cinema room. The library is rather empty as of yet, because most of the residents haven’t arrived yet. Around thirty residents moved in in July; in mid-August, another 150 are expected, and the buildings will be at full capacity by September.
The two buildings are divided into a ‘silver’ and a ‘golden’ building. Both have similar interiors and decoration, with slightly differing colour accents. Lettering will be applied to the facades of the buildings, and a bridge will be built outside the building so the entrance is easier to access.
There are several new construction projects for student housing in Utrecht. In June, for example, the SSH building Sequoia was completed, which houses 318 studios of 21 square metres each. Sequoia is located in the old KPN building at the Burgemeester Fockema Andreaelaan.
Another two hundred student studios, 21 square metres each, are expected in Tuinwijk. The construction work is due to be completed by late 2021, on the grounds that previously housed the tax offices.
The Cube will provide another 639 apartments for students. The building, at the Brailledreef in Overvecht, is expected to be completed by early 2022.
Lastly, plans have been submitted for student housing at the Kögllaan in north-east Utrecht, and it’s possible a new high-rise for student housing will be built at the USP, between Johanna and the Cambridgelaan, although those plans are as yet uncertain. Other possible locations for student housing are the former Pieter Baan Centrum, a new building at the IBB, ‘t Goylaan, and the to-be-developed Merwedekanaalzone.