Guilhem Vellut

It has been 5 years since the start of the renovation of the Roeterseiland Campus (REC) in 2011. This means that majority of UvA students, including us at the FEB, has never seen the campus without some part of it being under construction. Scaffoldings, detours and noise have become a part of the REC experience. This period, however, is now coming to an end as a big part of the projects has been finished and the remaining ones will be finished soon so it will not be too long for us to see the campus as it is. Still, despite some efforts on the side of the UvA, most of us found out about the changes by having lectures at Amsterdam’s most random locations and by being forced to enter buildings at REC with detours that go through Rotterdam. Therefore, here I will summarise what has been done in the last couple of years, what can inconvenience us at the moment and what are the plans for the coming months.

What’s been done

Probably the biggest project was the renovation of the B/C/D Building. The reconstruction of the massive structure towering above Nieuwe Achtergracht started in 2011 and ended in 2014. In september the same year, the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science has been moved there. The building contains many lecture rooms and classrooms as well as study facilities, which have provided more space for the crowded campus. Despite the modern design, there were several shortcoming, including not always so great access to electricity, which is a must in today’s universities. The Central Student Council has even organised an event, during which the students who found the most electric socket would be rewarded. For now, the problem has been solved with extenders.

Two other big projects especially relevant for the FEB were renovations of the E Building and the new Library Learning Center (LLC). The former has been finished last year and consisted of rearranging and renewing the offices on the upper floors and overhauling the E-Hall with the new Sefa Store and Student Desk. The latter is now home to 800 study places and almost 200 computers, accessible to every UvA student. However, with the big amounts of students at the campus, the library is very often overcrowded. This can be very frustrating, especially for the FEB members, for whom LLC is one of the main study spots and especially just before and during the exam weeks. Luckily, there are more than enough electric sockets at LLC.

CREA cultural center has been moved from the city center (Oudemanhuispoort area) to the renovated diamond factory. The building is host to many rooms that allow CREA and many student organisations and bodies to organise cultural and academic events for 30.000 UvA students and many others. CREA is also home to the Central Student Council. Opposite from CREA, on the other side of the canal, is the Lab Building that witnesses academic research in areas such as psychology. The interior of the building has also been renovated.

What is being done

At the moment, only two main projects are underway. Firstly, the G Building (Behind the E Building) is having its roof renovated. The interior has already been finished in February and, according to plans, the exterior will be finished by the 21st of October. This means that it will soon stop annoying anyone trying to put their bike in the underground shed. Secondly, the A Building (the tall glass-and-metal building next to Roetersstraat) is supposed to be finished by July 2017 and will become home to the Faculty of Law in years 2017 or 2018. With its conclusion, the REC renovations will (hopefully) be over.

Several words on the future of the campus

Why did the renovation of Roeterseiland Campus begin in the first place? Until recently, UvA was scattered around the whole city of Amsterdam. This has resulted in big costs of maintenance and security of the properties. As a result, UvA’s administration has decided to concentrate within 4 main campuses: the Inner City Campus (Oudemanhuispoort) with the Faculty of Humanities; Roeterseiland Campus with the Faculties of Economics and Business, Social and Behavioural Sciences, and Law; the Science Park with the Faculty of Science; Academisch Medisch Centrum (AMC) with the Faculty of Medicine. This move, however, has its downsides: UvA has to sell some of its older, traditional buildings (the sale of Bungehuis has sparked the 2015 protests), which have become part of the university’s identity, while three faculties (Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, and Law) had to be moved. As a result, the administration has to make sure that changes are as smooth as possible and students don’t lose their sense of being a part of a bigger student community. This is especially true for us at the FEB as the sense of community is not strong enough here and may become even weaker as we will have to share the campus with the two big UvA faculties. As to the aesthetic values of the renovation, architecture is like art and so everyone should decide by themselves what is their opinion. Either way, if you are really frustrated by all the chaos and inconveniences of the renovation, look at it this way: you’re the generation of students that is witnessing one of UvA’s biggest transformations.

If you want to find out more about the renovations, past and present, go to this link.