The University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and the municipality of Groningen have outlined an ambitious urban development vision for the Zernike Campus Groningen. The vision sets out the main contours of a plan to develop the Zernike Campus Groningen over the next 10 to 15 years. The enthusiasm and driving force of the knowledge institutes based there gives the campus the potential to develop into a centre of teaching, knowledge and development of national and international stature. The possibility of building student housing on Zernike is also being explored. The other key to success, alongside the current spatial plans, lies in far-reaching collaboration and good marketing of the campus. Total investment is estimated at € 15 million.
‘This new urban development vision will help to anchor the Zernike Campus as an international hub of knowledge and entrepreneurship’, says Jan de Jeu, Vice President of the Board of the University of Groningen. ‘We are very keen to attract businesses that will benefit from the knowledge at Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the University of Groningen to the campus. It is therefore crucially important that we improve the quality of living and amenities in the area. This vision corresponds perfectly with the forthcoming major investments that the University of Groningen is making in the new Energy Academy Europe and Zernikeborg.’
Executives from the municipal authorities, the University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences presented their vision at a joint press conference. The vision was drawn up by WEST 8 and commissioned by the Zernike Steering Group, which consists of representatives of the abovementioned parties and the Association of Industrial Estates Groningen West (VBGW), UMCG and the province of Groningen. The vision was recently formalized and adopted as the basis for further development of the Zernike Campus Groningen. The parties concerned are very enthusiastic about the outcome.
Over the past 10 years, the Zernike Campus has undergone substantial transformations, including the design and construction of new teaching, research and faculty buildings. Large-scale, ambitious plans for the next few years are also in the pipeline. For example, the development of the Energy Transition Centre (EnTranCe) got underway last year and a start will be made on building the Energy Academy Europe in the next twelve months. In addition, this year will see the start of work on a new test factory for the biobased economy (Zernike Advanced Processing, ZAP), a collaborative project between Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, Noorderpoortcollege Regional Training Centre and the University of Groningen. The draft proposals in the vision give a clear idea of the character, organization and layout of the different sub-areas.
The atmosphere and layout of the north and south sides of the campus are currently very different. The southern part revolves around education, research and the development of knowledge, while on the northern side, behind a car park and high voltage line, there is an industrial area featuring a mix of multitenant business buildings and premises built by individual entrepreneurs.
Interventions aimed at improving the spatial quality and internal connections are needed to merge the north and south sides of the campus to form one harmonious Zernike Campus Groningen. The first move will be to transform the main Zernikelaan into an attractive route for cyclists and pedestrians, public transport and suppliers: the Zernikepromenade. The central area will be given a make-over, turning it into the beating heart of the Zernike Campus. New roads for slow traffic will be built on the northern side, linking up with the local cycle path network. With the help of the latest tricks of urban architecture, a more intimate and appealing business climate will be created. Businesses will be functionally interspersed with knowledge institutes, thereby generating optimum synthesis.
The possibilities of building student housing are also being explored as a means of creating a dynamic, lively campus. A design contest is currently being prepared. The entrances to the campus (north & south) will be revamped, and there are plans for outdoor furniture. The concrete development plan will be drawn up in the months to come, as will detailed plans for professionalizing the park management. An acquisition plan will be finalized and the funding will come under close scrutiny (including grants).
Investment in the campus site is estimated at €15 million. Most of the cost will be borne by the municipality and the knowledge institutes, depending on the design. The official procedure to alter the zoning plan will be started this year.
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