During the first years of the 21st century the principles of the plan 'Koolhaas / Zaaijer' were executed with great care. In 2001, the Bloembergenbuilding (Studio UN / Van Berkel & Bos), a little architectural gem is carefully positioned near the Kruytbuilding.
Disappointingly, the 1995 draft 'bestemmingsplan' (urban development plan) gets outdated before it is finalised. Representatives of the university and the urban development bureau of the city tried to update the urban development plan. Unfortunately, a new controversy emerged. The city tried to redefine the older agreements on the use of 'De Uithof' in such a way that it may benefit financially as soon as the university allows others to develop real estate in the area. The university strictly adhered to the principle that other parties are only allowed into 'De Uithof' on the basis of a formal cooperation in research or teaching and that no profits are made on the grounds. In fact, on most occasions, the university de facto subsidised others by letting them using the grounds at low cost. In June 2000 a pre draft of a new 'bestemmingspan' is available, but it gets gets buried without proper discussion.
In 2003 a small but significant addition to 'De Uithof' is completed, grand café 'The Basket' by NL Architects (Walter van Dijk) embodies the understanding that new features are necessary to transform 'De Uithof' into in true campus. The Basket combines the social aspects of a pub/restaurant with a recreational facility (basketball pitch) on its roof. The bar is sunken into the ground which allows for the appropriate hight for a grand café and offers a different perspective on the public space outside. The bar draws of lot of international attention and receives a number of awards: Rietveld Award (Nov 9th 2003), NAI prize for promising young architects (Dec 3rd 2004), Emerging Architects Special Mention (Mies von der Rohe Awards 2005), Special Distinction IPC/IAKS 2007 (May 3-5, 2007, prize-giving ceremony Oct. 31st 2007); International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities.
Aryan Sikkema took the initiative to re-start the process of creating a formal planning document from scratch. A great number of city stakeholders and university representatives were brought together to discuss the future of 'De Uithof', resulting in the working paper 'De Uithof' (available in Dutch at the website of the city of Utrecht) to be discussed in the city council in July 2003. The major elements: introducing more possibilities for student housing and allowing for science park development.
A major contribution to the kasbah strip is realised by the construction of the new university library, designed by Wiel Arets. Though plans for the moving of the library to 'De Uithof' go back to the late 1950s, it is only in 2004 that the library, designed as an all black building, occupies the most prominent location in 'De Uithof'. By now many of the first generation Uithof buildings end their lifecycle. Major renovations become necessary, asbestos has to be removed, new safety regulations enforce costly measures to be taken. For the university, this means that financial aspects of the corporate real estate more and more becomes a key factor. A long term real estate plan is developed. Major renovations are started on the veterinary university clinics.
The Dutch system of higher education changed due to the Bologna process and the former vocational and training colleges developed into universities of applied science. In 'De Uithof', the partner 'Hogeschool Utrecht' started building a fifth faculty (Education, architect: Joost Ector) to complete the kasbah strip to the west. The housing corporation SSHU developed a new concept 'spacebox' as a temporal housing facility for 233 students and had the architects Köther and Salman design a major project ('De Bisschoppen', 550 rooms) around the historic 'Bisschopssteeg'.
The university celebrated the arrival of another architectural highlight: a power station designed by Liesbeth van der Pol, opened at the end of 2005.
In October 2005, the working paper 'De Uithof' progressed into a document called 'Vision De Uithof' (available in Dutch at the website of the city of Utrecht, version November 9, 2005). Traditionally there are differences of opinion between city government and the university board. This time the university wanted to anticipate on the expansion of the Science Park in the north of 'De Uithof' and allowing for growth at the north side of the Leuvenlaan as well, whereas the city limited the planning horizon to the development of just the northern area.
In 2005 after a period of 15 years of 'new planning and building' serious progress had been made regarding the urban and architectural quality of De Uithof. De Uithof was nominated for the 'Gouden Pyramide'. The Golden Pyramid is a state prize awarded biennially for excellence in commissioning work in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, infrastructure and physical planning. To the disappointment of Aryan Sikkema De Uithof did not win. In 2017 he reflected on this outcome. (Interview in Dutch). The jury report 2005 (Dutch) judged the architecture and urban design excellent, but the way public space was integrated was disappointing according to the report. To be frank: they were right about that.
'Vision De Uithof' was first discussed in the city council committee for urban planning on February 1st, 2006 and in the summer of 2006 the document was published for public consultation. Various reactions were processed and the document (version November 2006) is input for the formal decision making process. Eventually the 3rd version became final. The Dutch text, dated October 2007, can be read here. The finalisation of this document started the production of a new 'bestemmingsplan' (urban planning document).
In order to consolidate and strengthen the shared views on the future development of De Uithof, a study trip was organised to a number of American and Canadian campuses to be inspired and especially to value the further impact of new student housing and the development of (private) R&D-initiatives on campus in Utrecht. Participants were representatives of the city of Utrecht, the University, the UMC Utrecht, the University of Applied Sciences, student housing corporation SSH and supervisor Art Zaaijer. The trip was organised by SSH in cooperation with the Rotterdam based architectural firm Metropolis. Prof. dr. Oedzge Atzema (economic geography) took care of the scientific angle of approach and hosted a number of discussion sessions during the trip. Two important goals were achieved: a close team to work on the new 'bestemmingsplan' emerged and a publication (book) on the results of the trip was produced: 'Campusontwikkeling in Utrecht, over nut en noodzaak, en over lessen uit Amerika', ISBN 978-90-9022907-2).
Preparatory work was done for the 'bestemmingsplan' during 2008 and 2009. Accompanying studies were drafted (traffic, archaeology, safety). In May 2009 a quick scan for the need of an environmental impact report was conducted. In June 2009 the city council concluded that there was no need for such an environmental impact report.
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