The transformation to make the building at Bloemsingel 1 in Groningen suitable as permanent accommodation for the University College Groningen (UCG) will be designed by the Amsterdam architectural combination Elephant / Taller. The monumental building will be carefully renovated and made more sustainable. In addition, new construction will be added on the north side, connecting it to the new campus square. The faculty is expected to be able to move into their new building by the end of 2025.
The architects of Elephant / Taller are working from the vision and structure of former Government Architect J.A.W. Vrijman (1865-1954), also known for the Academy Building of the UG (1909), which was designed in the same neo-Renaissance style. The facades of this former Physiology building will be renovated, the green gardens, including the surrounding fencing, will regain their classical appearance and the building will be made much more sustainable in terms of construction and installation. Part of the design plans is to demolish the later added 'North Building'. This building section (from 1934) disrupts Vrijmans original design and impedes the accessibility and routing of the whole.
On the cleared space between the West and East buildings, a light and open building volume made of wood is added to complement the monumental building. A transparent three-storey structure with large glass facades brings the outside world inside. The new building brings structure, functionality and logic back to the complex. Functionally, the new building provides important links to the old building, the gardens and the lively city square. "We looked closely at the future user and the functional requirements," says Sven Hoogerheide, architect of Elephant / Taller. "This is reflected in the result we created: a bright, inviting and flexible building, designed in the spirit of the UCG community. Designing a new faculty building for such a leading university is a challenging and inspiring task for us."
The main entrance will be on the side of the city square making it wheelchair-accessible, unlike the old building. The ground floor will serve as a hub where meetings between staff, students and visitors will take place. The top floor, with its beautiful 360-degree view of the city, will offer more peace and quiet: this is where the library space and concentration areas will be located. In addition, the roof of the old building will be made suitable as a large outdoor terrace. At the heart of the building - right at the transition between the old and new buildings - a high skylight will be built, which will also house the central reception desk. The total area will be around 4,800 m2 GLA. Once completed, UCG students and staff will feel as if the new building has always been there.
University College Groningen started in 2014 as a new faculty of the University of Groningen (UG) and focuses its Liberal Arts and Sciences bachelor's programme on complex social issues in the context of energy, digitalisation, healthy ageing and sustainability. "Since the beginning, UCG has continued to grow in a temporary location at Hoendiepskade 23 in Groningen," says Hanny Elzinga, dean of UCG. "After a phase of pioneering, we will now have a permanent location, close to our new student accommodation. The new building will make it possible to provide small-scale and innovative UCG education the way our students and teachers want it. We can't wait until we can soon greet everyone in the beautiful design now in front of us." Currently, 270 student appartments for UCG students and others are being built in a 19-storey residential tower on the corner of nearby Vrydemalaan.
The building is part of the Healthy Ageing Campus, an area for which the UG, the UMCG and the Municipality have drawn up a development plan in collaboration with landscape architects. As a result, the area will be transformed in phases over the next few years into a new piece of city centre with a recognisable, inviting and welcoming entrance.
The design plans will be further developed in the coming period. The aim is to finalise the design process in mid-2023 so that construction can start in early 2024. Faculty staff and students are expected to be able to use their new building by the end of 2025.
The design will be realised by the following parties:
Elephant / Taller, Amsterdam
Sweegers en De Bruijn, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
Pieters Bouwtechniek, Zwolle
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