In recent weeks there have been steam-rollers, shovels and workmen all over the campus. New or wider cycle paths and pedestrian routes have popped up here and there and now Forum has a square in front of it. What do employees and students think of the changes?
Photo: Guy Ackermans
Amber van den Tillaart, Student Environmental sciences
‘I think it is good that the paths on campus have been widened. If you were walking along and cyclists had to get by, it was a tight squeeze. But I think it is a shame that they have laid gravel between the paths around the Forum. It used to be grass, which I think looked nicer. In the summer you could sit and chill there. The campus had something natural about it, with the paths winding through the grass, and I think some of that has been lost with all the changes. New buildings are going up at the most extraordinary rate. The construction work is unbelievably quick.’
Ruud de Maagd, Researcher at Plant Research International Wageningen UR
‘The developments look good. The campus certainly needed more pedestrian and cycle paths and I think it is good that it was decided to be pragmatic and lay more asphalt. And it makes sense to separate cyclists and pedestrians. There were some dangerous places, like the bridge over the lake, where cyclists and pedestrians were weaving round each other. But new routes must be more clearly signposted. The other day I even saw a car driving along a cycle path. Perhaps that will come later. And it is great that there will be more places to sit outside the Forum. Although I think what people mainly need is more trees and shade. I would also like to see more places to sit outside Radix. When you work indoors here, you really have to go in search of daylight. But there is not much space available outside Radix.’
Lorenza Pasca, Student Management, Economics and Consumer Studies
‘The changes are definitely necessary. You can't help but notice that the number of students is rising rapidly. During the last study week, the library was overcrowded. More facilities are needed. I am amazed by the speed of the building work, I am highly impressed. When I arrived here in September 2014, the campus was much greener. It is a pity that many areas of grass are disappearing. I also think there are now too many cycle paths. All that asphalt is unnecessary. It is a whole different experience for new students arriving now. It is good thing that they will soon be able to use the new buildings and facilities.’
Judith Westerink, Researcher at Nature Based Solutions for Society at Alterra Wageningen UR
‘I have mixed feelings about the work. The new footpaths are one thing I am happy with. I work in Gaia and we used to walk through the car park to get to other buildings, which was neither safe nor appealing. But now the campus has so much asphalt and brick, and so few flowers. There wasn't much to start with, just a stretch of green like a billiard table, but now it is completely bare. I think we are lacking things that would be in keeping with our green image as Wageningen UR. We have bags of knowledge here of subjects like ecology, water management and landscape architecture, and I think that we should use this in-house creativity. Our facilities management should not be independent of who we are.’
Thijmen van Loon, Student International Land and Water Management
‘You can't help but notice that the present buildings are at maximum capacity, so with the growing number of students change is really necessary. The place does look ugly while the renovation work is going on. Now and then the campus looks like a building site, but I expect it will be attractive in the end. On the grapevine I often hear what the new buildings will be used for. I think the release of information about the building works could be much improved. The way it is now, there does not seem to be any vision behind it. With all the changes, I hope there is still going to be an open space where we can lie on the grass in summer. It would also be nice if more meeting places were created. I think the intimate, convivial atmosphere here at Wageningen is important. With all the new buildings I hope the campus keeps this atmosphere. They are building really quickly now, and with student numbers rising, I wonder whether that is possible.
Emma Smits, Student Landscape Architecture and Planning
‘It is good that they are changing the campus. The path structures were not optimal and the connection between the Forum and Orion isn't good. The bridge between the buildings is rather small. The campus was spaciously laid out with a lot of empty space. I think it is good that they are now using that space. The only thing I don't agree with is how they are using it. It was a nice idea, for example, to put a market in front of the Forum, but it means that now the area is covered in gravel so you can't sit there anymore. Nor am I happy with the new pedestrian and cycle paths. The paths are too narrow, they aren't in the right place, there are too many of them, they are confusing and cluttered, and the junctions are dangerous. I think it is strange that the university outsourced the design work. In my degree we literally have lessons in how to design the campus and, for example, how to structure the paths. We would have liked to have worked on this and would have made a better job of it than the way it is going to look now.’
Jan Spigt, Student Management, Economics and Consumer Studies
‘I think that the campus will become more unified. I am intrigued by the new Campus Plaza. I've heard it will include a Starbucks and an AH To Go. That would really complete the campus. Then it would really become a centre, albeit a small one. The new student housing that is coming will add to that. I think that more students will stick around on campus because it will have everything. That will make it a lively, bustling place to be.’.