Utrecht University remains in the Van Unnik building

Foto DUB

Within six to eight years, students and UU staff will have to walk around in the Van Unnik building again. This was announced by the university’s board of executives this week.

According to UU president Anton Pijpers, "a striking landmark in the heart of the campus" will be retained for Utrecht University. “In the past period it has been examined to see what is better: redevelopment of the Van Unnik, or demolition and then developing new construction. It appears to be more sustainable and cheaper to redevelop. Moreover, it takes less time than demolition and new construction. "

Sustainability and cost aspects were also recently mentioned as reasons to investigate whether the other worn Uithof giant, the Kruyt building, can remain in use. There is no definitive answer about that building as of yet.

It is still unknown which university units and students will be moving into the renewed Van Unnik. The decision-making on this depends, among other things, on the strategic housing plan that is to be determined early next year.

The decision to renovate the Van Unnik building is somewhat of a surprise. The building was abandoned by the Faculty of Geosciences in recent years and has been virtually empty since this spring. After fifty years, the building no longer met the requirements for university properties. Moreover, due to the poor condition of the facade, the building has been shrouded in a green net for years.

President Anton Pijpers said to DUB (in Dutch, ed.) two years ago that redevelopment of the Van Unnik building seemed "not very promising" to him, given the large extent of the asbestos problem. He preferred to see a new iconic building rise. Also because he would like to develop a lively heart of the campus with more space for shops, restaurants and homes, as stated in the ambition document that he presented at the beginning of this year on behalf of all institutions and companies in the Utrecht Science Park.

Last year, however, it appeared that demolition or sale had become less obvious: there were three scenarios on the table at the time. One of them was to use the Van Unnik again, which has now been chosen. According to the Real Estate & Campus management, new research into the concrete skeleton and test remediation of the asbestos and facade has shown that it is still possible to renovate the building. The building will be completely stripped and then rebuilt.

The desire to create more liveliness in the center of the campus still remains. That is why education will take place on the lower floors. The intention is to offer opportunities to other facilities as well, but for that to happen the university is dependent on the vision of the area that the municipality still has to draw up as well.

The renovation plans only relate to the high-rise building of the Van Unnik building. The demolition of the low-rise building will start early next year. Café The Basket at the foot of the building will remain in operation for as long as possible at the current location. It depends on when the work on the façade will start how long it will remain in operation. In the coming months, it must become clear when this is scheduled and whether The Basket will be housed elsewhere in De Uithof.

The plans no longer have any consequences for the Children's Knowledge Center beneath the Van Unnik Building. The center will be leaving those rooms at the end of this year.