This ‘monolith’ will have major implications for long-term campus sustainability and user-friendliness. Clearly, the students and staff who will use the building should have some input in the design – ‘for quality of life’! And the wealth of knowledge within Wageningen UR should go towards its development – ‘Science for Impact’!
Yet the opportunities for input were poorly publicized, poorly attended, and uninviting, and the sustainability objective for the building is merely to meet regulations.
The architect in his office was not interested in hearing our ideas and suggested we attend the final public meeting, which was a Dutch presentation with only 25 people present - most of them hand-picked by WUR for a planning working group – and only one student. The size of the room and nature of the meeting made it apparent that a larger audience was not expected, or welcome.
We wanted to hear the plans and share our ideas for making Orion WUR’s most sustainable building yet – but the architect himself wasn’t making any promises, only stating that at least 180 (D), the current norm, would be reached.
It appears that plans for Orion are being pushed through with as little emphasis on sustainability and participation from students and staff as possible. Where are ‘science for impact’ and ‘quality of life’ when it comes to our own campus? Is sustainability only an option for WUR when it doesn’t cost us anything?
We envision an interactive design and learning process that is inviting to an international community and benefits from the experience of our world-class students and staff. We envision sustainability embedded in the infrastructure of the university from the start, not merely added as an afterthought in compliance with basic legislation.
Take inspiration from Orion’s namesake – let’s get our heads out of the sand and into the stars.