UU investigating options for new educational cluster in city centre

The building Achter st. Pieter 25 which currently still houses more than thirty student associations. Photo's DUB

In the coming years, the UU hopes to take big steps in improving the classrooms of the two faculties. The current classrooms in the city centre are outdated more often than not, and are in bad shape.  On top of that, the university wants to dispose of the old school building at the Israelslaan near the Galgenwaard stadium, which it has been renting from the UMC Utrecht for some time.

The university is now considering creating around 1,400 to 1,600 square metres of educational space in the university’s buildings at Achter De Dom and Achter St. Pieter. The location is right in between the Trans – where many Humanities employees work – and the Achter St. Pieter 200 complex, where, once the current renovations are done, the Law faculty employees will be housed again.achter de dom5.jpg

If the plans do proceed, it could mean a thorough renovation of the buildings at Achter De Dom 20 to 24. Number 20 currently houses the university’s distinguished professors; the other two are vacant. Another house at Achter St. Pieter, recently acquired by the UU, would also become a part of the cluster.

The question also remains what will happen to the Pnyx building at Achter St. Pieter 25. Before the end of the year, the student associations will leave the severely outdated building, and move to De Uithof. The UU is currently investigating what the options for the building’s future are, and what’s allowed. The investigation will cover all scenarios, both renovation and demolition/new construction.

The Pnyx building is situated in the historical heart of the city of Utrecht but does not have the status of monument. One thing that is already clear is that a possible new building will not be allowed to be much higher than the current building. Furthermore, there are still remains of old vaulted cellars beneath the building, and it remains to be seen whether the university will be allowed to remove them.

Expected bicycle traffic
The university is also investigating how the courtyards can connect the separate buildings to each other, and whether they can play a role in helping along the expected bicycle traffic. One thing that’s being looked into, for instance, is the possibility of constructing a bicycle cellar that opens to the courtyard.

The UU expects to receive the results of the feasibility study late March. The poor state of Utrecht’s wharfs and canals should also be taken into account – heavy vehicles are not allowed to drive there, which will complicate construction work.

The department of Corporate Real Estate and Campus is careful about making claims for the future purpose of the new buildings. An educational purpose is the most obvious choice, but that’s still subject to change. It all depends on the ‘integral housing plan’ the faculties of Humanities and Law are working on in collaboration with the University Library.

Given the university’s new housing plan, the faculties have been told by the university to use fewer square metres, but the faculties would still like to have all their departments remain in the city centre. In the solution of that new puzzle, it’s possible that alternative uses for the cluster at Achter St. Pieter/Achter De Dom will be named.