Plans to demolish student housing complex IBB

One of the buildings at the IBB-laan. Photo: DUB

The student housing organisation’s policy plans states that its housing stock is to be made more sustainable. The SSH wants to be climate-neutral by 2050. Transforming 1960’s buildings like the ones at the IBB-laan and 1970’s buildings like the Tuindorp-West property into entirely environmentally-friendly buildings is quite the challenge, says Donninger, who’s been director of the SSH for half a year now. “We could put all our money in it, and we still wouldn’t have buildings that meet today’s demands. That’s why we’re thinking of demolishing the IBB at some point, and replacing it with a new building.” This would also provide opportunity for a second ambition: creating more rooms.

The IBB is Utrecht’s oldest student housing facility, and is currently in the process of being renovated. The homes were also renovated in 2016. Calculations show the buildings will be at the end of their lives by 2030. The maintenance work that’s planned until then doesn’t actually make the buildings more sustainable. Demolishing and replacing with new buildings that would also contain more housing unites seems like the better option to Donninger. This does come with a set of conditions, however. “At this moment, there’s a high demand for student housing, so you’re not just going to remove housing units from the market. Furthermore, there has to be alternative housing available.” That would have to be done in multiple phases, over a longer period of time, the director thinks, because the biggest challenge in demolishing the IBB is relocating the 1,300 students who live there.

Perhaps the completion of the second or third ‘phase’ of new student housing units at the former KPN terrain would help, Donninger thinks. Some of the IBB students would then be able to move to the new buildings there, possibly emptying up one of the IBB buildings which would then be demolished. After that, the next group can move to the new IBB building. That way, all the old IBB buildings can be demolished one by one, and replaced by sustainable new buildings. The director emphasises that he’s talking about plans. “Before we do anything at all, we’ll discuss with our tenants and rental organisations like Boks, and the housing administration.”

Transforming the Tuindorp West Complex into sustainable housing is quite a different story. The high-rise buildings at the Van Lieflandlaan and Willem Schuylenburglaan were declared to be municipal monuments in 2017, making demolition unlikely. However, insulating the exterior is also not possible, Donninger says. As most rooms are quite small, adding insulation to the interior of the buildings isn’t desirable. In the next few years, the SSH will conduct small-scale experiments in sustainable renovation of monuments in the Tuindorp West building.

Read more about student housing corporation SSH’s plans in the interview with Rob Donninger. ‘My greatest ambition is to realise more new rooms more quickly’