The demise of the Dreijen university complex, on Wageningen’s hill, was heralded years ago by the development of the Wageningen Campus. The last researchers were due to leave in 2015, making way for housing. But rising student numbers have prompted a change of plan. Twenty million euros will breathe new life into the Dreijen. Is this a good idea? And what needs to be modernized?
Maarten de Gee
Associate Professor, Mathematical and Statistical Methods group, in Radix on the campus
‘I enjoyed working in the Maths building for years: it has light, air and space. Admittedly, the seating in the lecture theatre is cramped by today’s standards. There’s no space for longer legs and the table is too small. But that can no doubt be refurbished.
What I find more off-putting is the prospect of having to shuttle back and forth. As a lecturer, you want to be available to individual students after a lecture, and have the time to get your materials ready for the next session. That’s impossible if you also have to get from the Dreijen to the campus in the allotted 15 minutes. The shuttling will be at the expense of the education. And I envisage masses of students arriving late because the roads can’t cope with such a large dense flow of students to and from the campus.’
lives next to the Dreijen
‘I think it’s an excellent idea and we’ll be only too happy to have lots of students passing by here again. It makes you feel energetic to see them cycling to lectures in the morning. And I don’t have a problem with some of the campus being converted to student housing. At least at the Dreijen students have a bit of space. What I am unhappy about are the building plans for the tropical glasshouse. The housing they want to build is going to be huge and cramped, and that will cause parking and noise problems; students won’t have room to move. I’d like to see those plans being binned.’
Climate Studies student, in Forum on the campus
‘I don’t know the Dreijen, but if the buildings are suitable for education, why not? It’s sustainable not to throw away something old if it still functions well. Besides, new doesn’t always mean better. The campus isn’t exactly ‘warm and cosy’, is it? In Amsterdam, where I first studied, my programme was initially taught at an older location and later at the new Science Park. Even though the Park had everything, we sometimes yearned for quaint Roeterseiland. As for the Dreijen, the cycling won’t be the problem. What’s most important, I think, is that there’s a good canteen and wifi, good ventilation and a lot of private study places where you can sit and work comfortably.’
Max van der Ploeg
Biology student, in the Chemistry building at the Dreijen
‘I’ve been coming here for some time, and for me this is no longer a B-location. The Chemistry building could even be called beautiful. Have you seen the mosaics? It’s wonderfully calm and relaxed at the Dreijen now, without the hordes of people like on the campus. Of course, now it’s not ideal here for microbiology and the campus has more modern equipment, but the building is very usable and there’s no problem with the wifi here. One thing that could be much improved is the furnishing. Everything here is so bare. Sitting areas alone would create a much more positive atmosphere. And it needs something like The Spot. At present, there’s only a mini-canteen here.’
Nico van den Brink
Assistant Professor, Toxicology section, in the Chemistry building at the Dreijen
‘I certainly understand why the Executive Board is looking again at the Dreijen. A new education building would be a crazier idea, I think. By the time that was completed in five years, student numbers could well be declining again. Added to which, the buildings are pretty good compared to those of, say, Utrecht University. Besides, a lecture theatre is a lecture theatre, even if we could use a better projector here. And good signage in and around the buildings is needed. The students who now come here to do group work often can’t find where they are supposed to be.’
Education and research staff member, Laboratory of Biophysics, in Transitorium at the Dreijen
‘I don’t care what happens, but it falls short of today’s standards, that’s for sure. In Transitorium there’s no Wacom screen [drawing screen], and wifi reception is patchy in places. In addition, it’s chilly here in winter and hot in summer.
To create a good education campus, I’d invest mainly in more greenery on the site. That’s all disappeared in recent years. Personally, I also think it’s a pity that you can no longer enter the little arboretum from the Dreijen; although having said that the arboretum is now so neat and tidy it’s no longer pretty and the orchids have disappeared.’