Nieuws - 11 november 2009

Utopa buys Botanical Centre

Wageningen UR has sold the Botanical Centre at the Arboretumlaan to the Utopa Foundation. Utopa wants to turn this into a study and information centre related to art and plants.

Utopa will restore the building to its old glory, according to director Loek Kijkman. This means that the construction at the front will go. The old lecture theatre will be renovated. There will be a library, a study room and a shop selling plant-related articles with 'fragrances and colours'.  He says that the purchase of the Botanical Centre is part and parcel of the management of the Klein Arboretum (small botanical garden). Utopa has taken over this management for the next five years from Wageningen UR. 'This is a new phenomenon for us. There has to be space to accommodate the public and disseminate information.' In addition, Dijkman says that the retaining of a bat colony in the Botanical Centre has also been taken into account. 'We owe it to the bats to do so.'
Earlier on, Utopa has bought the building next door - 'De Banaan' - from Wageningen UR. This property will house a visual arts museum and a restaurant. Utopa wants to make this a specialty restaurant related to plants and greens. 'But it doesn't necessarily have to be a vegetarian restaurant',  Dijkman thinks. He says that Utopa is engaged in creating an unusual combination of plants, art and food at and around the Dreijen. The foundation also owns the Hinkeloord property on which Het Depot has its sculpture exhibits.
The agreement between Wageningen UR and Utopa was signed on Monday afternoon. The purchase of the Botanical Centre is the last of Utopa's ventures in Wageningen, Dijkman says. The foundation will start renovating De Banaan in February. The entire complex will be ready for handing over in the fall of 2011, at the earliest.