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A Student's Review of the Groninger Forum

Date:17 January 2020
The Forum (captured by @matteoacitelli)
The Forum (captured by @matteoacitelli)

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months, you have probably heard about the new Forum. Actually, even if you haven’t heard about it, you have probably seen it as its unusual design clearly sticks out in the Groningen city landscape. Since its opening in late November, the Forum has attracted more than 400.000 visitors and counting. But what is the Forum like from the inside? Are there enough study spots and how are the food options? For this blog, I went to check out the Forum to give it a review from a student's perspective. 

The Design

Love it or hate it, the design of the Forum is definitely one of a kind. While some viewers may compare it to a spaceship that has landed in the city centre, others see it as an expression of contemporary architecture and design. Personally, I think the exterior design is pretty unique in a good way. On the one hand, it is not boring to look at, while it also strikes an aesthetic that is balanced with its surroundings. However, I do understand how some people may not like it or still have to get used to it. In case the outside does not appeal to you, then the inside might do the trick. Indoors the Forum skilfully combines different styles, colours, and art pieces depending on the floor and area you are in. My favourite part, however, is the seemingly floating escalators, which gives the inside a sense of modernity and grandeur which one would only expect to encounter in a very big city but not necessarily in cute little Groningen.   

Sharp edges and interesting design - yay or nay?
Sharp edges and interesting design - yay or nay?

 My rating 7,5/10 

The Facilities

The Forum houses a lot of different facilities. And by a lot I mean a cinema, a museum, several cafes, a restaurant, a library, a souvenir shop as well as several meeting rooms and a media/smartlab. Oh, and did I forget to mention the huge rooftop terrace topping it all off? Constructing a huge building like this definitely has its benefits, and space is one of them. In my opinion, the coolest places to check out, at least during your first visit, are the smart/media lab. The medialab houses a huge greenscreen, in front of which visitors can take photos or make videos which can be edited later. The smartlab, on the other hand, is an area on the third floor where various workshops on new technologies such as 3-D printing are organized. Besides this, the Forum also houses the library which stretches over several floors and offers differently themed reading areas, which is quite cool. Apart from these permanent facilities, the Forum also has multiple pop-up installations where you can try out VG-glass or play video games. All in all, there is a lot to explore here and all of the facilities are state of the art - very impressive!

Make your own movie in the medialab!
Make your own movie in the medialab!

My rating: 8,5/10 

Study Spots 

Groningen students know how difficult it can be to find a study spot sometimes. Luckily, the designers of the Forum also kept that in mind and included 178 study spots into the Forum. The study spots are spread out around the whole building and most of them include sockets. There is also a solid wifi connection available, in case you have to get some online research done. However, most of the spots are situated in public areas where there may be a lot of people walking through. Unfortunately, there is only a small silent area with very uncomfortable chairs, so if you are someone like me who needs silence while studying, the Forum is not a good option. However, if you are working on group projects or need to work on something creative the Forum could prove to be a great workspace. All in all, however, I believe there are better places to study in Groningen. 

Some study spots - but not enough.
Some study spots - but not enough.

 My rating: 6,5/10    

The View 

No matter where you are within the Forum, the views are always great. Another benefit, given the sheer size of the building, is that it easily looks over 95% of the other buildings in the city. This means that whether you are studying or just having a coffee, you will most of the time be able to catch a great 360-degree view of the city. Without a doubt, however, the scenery can be best admired from the rooftop terrace of the Forum. From up here, you can literally see the whole city. In the summer, the rooftop terrace will also feature an open-air cinema and a terrace which sounds like this is going to be Groningens hottest new chill spot. Pro tip: make sure to check out the rooftop terrace after sunset, to get a gorgeous nighttime view over the city!

Can you spot your house from up here?
Can you spot your house from up here?

 My rating: 9/10

The Food

Let’s come to the last part of this review: the food. As already mentioned the Forum has a variety of cafes and even a fancy looking restaurant located at the very top floor! In the cafes, on the bottom floors, you can grab a quick bite or a coffee for an okay price. Even the upstairs restaurant offers food and drinks at a fair price given its location and its luxurious vibe. That being said, the main courses in the restaurant and the food offerings in the cafe are certainly not cheap from a student's perspective. Moreover, the menu is lacking variety. There are definitely better (and much cheaper) places to eat than the Forum, so I would not make the trip there if you are looking for a great lunch/dinner place.      

My rating: 6/10


In my opinion, the Forum is a great new addition to the city. It offers a ton of exciting facilities and its design makes it just a fun place to hang around. I can’t wait to check out the rooftop terrace in the summer or watch a movie in the ‘De Luxe’ cinema which offers huge lounge chairs and even an integrated bar! That being said, I think the Forum really is more of a hang-out rather than a study spot. The food options are too expensive for students and the available study places are quite limited. Despite this, you will probably see me there meeting up with friends to discuss group projects or just skimming through the library. So if you haven’t been to the Forum yet, make sure to check it out! 

Overall rating: 7,5/10

What do you think of the Forum? Do you want us to review more places in Groningen? Let us know in the comments below! 

About the author

Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently doing my Master's degree in European Law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.


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