This is what the new Dialogue Centre building will look like once it is built. One of the halls in the new building will be a doctorate graduation hall, which will take over the function of current hall in the Aula.
© Broekbakema Architects
The sketch is an artist’s impression created by Broekbakema Architects in Rotterdam. This impression is the starting point of the tender procedure for the architect and contractor that will start in January, explains Peter Booman, director Facilities and Services. If all goes smoothly, the first brick could still be laid down in the anniversary year.
According to Booman, the Dialogue Centre should do exactly what its name suggests: provide content for the dialogue with society. ‘A place where we can develop a knowledge-intensive ecosystem with seminars, symposia and other meetings. Impulse is too small for that, having room for only 80 people, and using the larger lecture halls in Forum and Orion often interferes with the schedule.’
The centre ties in with one of the priority areas of president of the board Louise Fresco: dialogue. Earlier this year, she received a contribution of 1.6 million euros from the Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs to create a meeting place on campus. According to Booman, once combined with a donation of 2 million euros from the WICC Foundation (sale of IAC, the current Hof van Wageningen), there were enough starting funds to develop the plans.
The activities taking place in the Aula quickly came to mind. ‘If we’re going to build something anyway, it would be logical to move the Aula activities to the Dialogue Centre as well’, Booman explains. ‘As it stands, everybody has to travel to the city centre for PhD defences and inaugurations. But everything happens here on campus. There are still regularly visitors who end up on campus, while the event they mean to attend takes place in the Aula.’
Booman realises that leaving the Aula is a sensitive subject. ‘Some people feel the Aula is our last physical connection with the city. But maintaining two such building is simply too expensive. Additionally, the Aula meets neither present safety regulations nor the level of modern use, which means that it would require an extensive renovation. We can implement more functions in the Dialogue Centre than would ever be possible in the Aula.’
At the core of the Dialogue Centre is a large hall with 300 seats meant for seminars, symposia etc. Another hall will accommodate 80 people and is meant for graduations, inaugurations and other activities in the evenings and weekends. An additional 8 to 10 smaller rooms are intended, as well as a faculty club: a kind of VIP room with more exclusive catering meant for important delegations. The receptions after the PhD defences will take place in the anteroom of the building, though no parties nor dinners will be organised there.
The new building will be placed at the corner of the bus lane and the Mansholtlaan. It will have a single story and an area of approximately 2000 square metres. According to Booman, it will be a stylish building that will match the sustainable feeling of the campus. The atmosphere in the doctorate graduation hall will become very different than that in the Aula. The organ will not return, for example, but the portraits of the previous rectors might.