SSH is now allowed to renovate Tuindorp West Complex

Majority of students living in SSH 'Red Flat' agrees to move out

Tuindorp-West Rode flat / foto SSH
The Red Building at Tuindorp West Complex. Photo: SSH

The residents of the Red Building were asked to vote in favour or against the renovation plans presented by the student housing provider SSH. They were given three months to make up their minds. In the end, 70 percent of them voted in favour of the renovation, thus giving it the green light to start.

In addition to measures to make the building more sustainable, such as constructing a new facade, SSH will renovate the kitchens and bathrooms. Future residents will also get bigger living rooms thanks to a more efficient use of the space available.

SSH Director, Rob Donninger, is satisfied that the students have understood the value of sustainability and are willing to cooperate. "We are grateful to our residents and we will make sure that everyone will find a nice place to live."

A scare
In October 2023, when SSH announced its intention to renovate the Red Building, which implied that all residents had to move out, many students were shocked. The residents didn't seem all that excited about moving out. They didn't trust SSH's social plan, which states that the student housing provider would help students with finding another place to live and move. Others agreed right away that the building was in dire need of a revamp.

In December, SSH listened to residents' complaints and announced additional measures in its social plan. For example, residents were given the choice to move together with their roommates to a place in the new Baobab Complex. Those not interested in applying for rooms can now choose to be placed and also indicate which complex they'd prefer to live in.

Several SSH representatives passed by the Red Building too. "We noticed that many residents were positive about our plans, but they had practical and personal questions," says Eddy Isidora, manager of the Red Building and others. "We talked around the kitchen table, which allowed us to dive deeper into those questions."

Time pressure
SSH was racing against the clock. They said this was their "only chance" of making the building more sustainable, as they had obtained all permits, there was enough money in the bank, and they even had a contractor ready to go. According to Donninger, there was no plan B. He gave residents some respite for the move.

If everything goes well, the renovation work will last one year. Then, the plan is to start renovating another building in the same complex. For this second renovation to go through, they will have to obtain the approval of 70 percent of the residents once again. However, those students have the advantage of already having a place to live: they can all move into the Red Building.

SSH had been meaning to make the buildings in this student housing complex more sustainable for years. It started exploring options in 2018. Tuindorp West Complex is one of the oldest student housing complexes in Utrecht. Built in the 1970s, the buildings have been granted monument status by the municipality due to their brutalist architectural style.