Skyline De Uithof
 


De Uithof, history of a university campus, 1990s

 


1992 Rethinking 'De Uithof' in the early 1990s not only meant finding a way to reorganize and restructure everything that had been built in thirty years and allowing for additional university plans to be added. It also meant incorporating other forms of higher education into the area and finding a decent way to integrate public transportation.
Higher education changed during the 1990s. The vocational and training colleges expanded, merged into bigger organisations, and found themselves in need of buiding locations for which limited budgets were available. To accomodate this challenging perspective, the kasbah strip was developed.
A second major change in campusplanning concerned its residential aspects. During the 1980s the university had fought the city over its plans to build houses in De Uithof. Unfortunately, housing conditions for students were substandard in Utrecht which meant that the university gradually became interested in allowing for a specific type of housing in 'De Uithof': studenthousing. Especially rector J.A. van Ginkel, as a geographer professionally specialised in housing and urban development, strongly favoured opening up 'De Uithof' for this purpose. (J.A. van Ginkel was Utrecht's longest serving rector -1986 to 1996- and has been rector of the United Nations University from 1997.) The changed perspective introduced a rather intricate process of studies and discussions. Research was carried out on the feasibility of students living in 'De Uithof', partners were sought and found that were willing to invest in studenthousing although the university had to provide financial guarantees in case vacancies could not be filled and a suitable location had to be found.
1993 After evaluating a number of options, a location south of the new Cambridgelaan was chosen for the development of 1,000 studentrooms. The location was controversial because of the vulnerabilty of the neighbouring ecological zone ('moerasbosje' = marshland with trees). A planning document had to be drawn to provide the housing initiative with some sort of formal rooting. In 1993 agreement was reached on a 'stedenbouwkundig plan' as a basis for further urban planning. This plan was completed by a number of studies on subjects like environmental impact and traffic and transportation.
1995 The 'stedenbouwkundig plan koolhaas / Zaaijer' with the studies that accompanied it were extended into a draft new 'bestemminsplan' to provide maximum legal status, However, due to the combination of political discontinuity, and rapidly changing perspectives, formal approval by the city and provincial states was not reached. In the meantime a number of new buildings were completed and 'De Uithof' slowly developed itself to become a showcase of modern architecture. In 1995, Mecanoo's Faculty of Economics and Management opened its doors to become the first example.
1997 The 'Educatorium' (OMA, Koolhaas/Cornubert) was completed in 1997, filling in the missing link between the Van Unnikbuilding and Ruppertbuilding in a natural way.
1998 The Minnaertbuilding (Neutelings/Riedijk) gave the north west area of 'De Uithof' its flagship and in the same year the studenthousing was built (completed in 1999).
   
 
kasbah strip 1993, stedenbouwkundig plan
urban plan map 1993
  aerial picture, taken in 1999

 

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