The stretch of grass between Atlas and Orion is still empty and bare. But that is set to change. Spring 2016 may well see the first performances being held in the new amphitheatre here. This is the most eye-catching element in the new campus design.
The campus is quite attractive and green. The buildings are imposing, but the bare stretches of grass between the buildings are not very inviting. So a make-over is in order. On the instructions of the steering group for the campus’s continued development, the MTD agency has made an initial proposal. Last week Wednesday the draft design was presented in Impulse. Landscape architect and Wageningen alumnus Frank Meijer (the M in MTD) was given the task of enlivening the site by ‘creating natural- looking meeting places’. Green and attractive as it is, the campus still has a long way to go, in Meijer’s view. The first sketches are shown here on these pages.
The initial drawings drew plenty of reaction at the presentation. Positive ones, but plenty of critical ones too. For example, it turned out that MTD was unaware of the detailed ideas presented a year ago by the student project group EAT. EAT’s aim is to have an academic edible garden on campus, but while they were busy planning, they also designed the entire site between Forum and Atlas. This involved paying close attention to the wet subsurface and the seepage water. And their plans provided for an amphitheatre too. MTD’s design is clearly an initial proposal. In Meijer’s view, the ideas of EAT and others of taking the seepage area as a starting point when extending the area’s greenery can be easily accommodated. Project leader Elike Wijnheimer also points out that the so-called water garden next to Vitae (Rikilt) is an excellent site to allocate to EAT. As yet, this site is undeveloped grass-land. Facilities & Services is keen to start work on part of the new design after the summer. Owing to the limited budget (200,000 euros), the full plan will be carried out in phases. The amphitheatre and the widening of the bridge to the Forum are high on the wish list. The bridge, incidentally, will be funded from other sources.
The empty site next to Impulse and Helix is planned to accommodate a little brother of the large amphitheatre at Orion. Extra pedestrian/cycle paths across the site should make the area on this side of the campus more accessible.
The water garden is the place where students and employees can put garden concepts into practice, whether experimental or not.
The beating heart of the campus is and will remain Forum. MTD wants to increase its role as a sort of market square. The existing bridge across the pond will be widened, giving cyclists (north) and pedestrians (south) their own lanes. MTD thinks the bridge should continue along the water’s edge in the form of a wooden platform that doubles as a terrace. Whether a (costly) terrace is feasible still remains to be seen. Long benches will be installed in the grounds. According to project leader Elike Wijnheimer, the term market field should be taken literally. Vendors will be welcome here. But an extra bridge across the pond at Orion, as shown on the drawing, has been ruled out by Facilities & Services.
Between Atlas and Orion an open-air theatre seating about 300 people will be built. This will take the form of an amphitheatre with a few semicircular terraces protruding a little way above ground level. Trees will encircle the whole structure. The structure on this site on the Mansholtlaan is an initial step in the plan to connect the campus to the Ede-Wageningen Knowledge Axis. Giving this Axis a more prominent profile is a Food Valley initiative.