Sports hall and more student housing for a vibrant campus
UAntwerp to give parts of Campus Drie Eiken to LIFE on long-term lease
A sports hall, a new restaurant and more student housing: all these ingredients promise to turn Campus Drie Eiken into a more vibrant place. Project developer LIFE will oversee the campus development and manage some zones on a long-term lease.
The University of Antwerp has been investing heavily in Campus Drie Eiken in Wilrijk in recent years. Two new buildings have been erected, mainly with classrooms, and the research labs in existing buildings have been fully renovated. The large auditorium on the campus will also be getting a facelift soon.
"These investments were absolutely essential," explains Rector Herman Van Goethem. "The campus is home to about 10,000 students, researchers and staff. The number of 'residents' has increased in the last few years. In terms of education and research infrastructure, we're in good shape today, but a campus needs more than that. The student restaurant, komida, is bursting at the seams, Rehabilitation Sciences students have to move between locations for their sports classes, and the student homes need freshening up too."
Affordable student room
Campus Drie Eiken also lacks a real centre, a 'heart'. A working group consisting of students, faculties and university-wide services was put together to discuss the needs of the campus. "It was important to us that all users of the campus were involved," says the university’s director general Bart Heijnen. "We then set out to find an external partner who could develop the campus through a leasehold arrangement. As an explicit condition, we stipulated that at least 120 student rooms must be offered for 270 euros per month."
Project developer LIFE's proposal was selected by the university as the best fit. LIFE has extensive experience in campus development, including past collaborations with universities and colleges in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. The development is part of the newly launched XL Fund, which is a collaboration between Xior Student Housing NV (90%) and LIFE (10%).
"Our primary aim is to densify the heart of the campus, creating the facilities necessary to revive it, while preserving the valuable green surroundings." The focus is on developing more on-campus student housing and a new sports and leisure centre, creating a vibrant atmosphere that continues even when lessons are over. The student restaurant, komida, will be renovated and expanded to create more of room for students and staff to eat, meet and study.
Focus on students
As a creative developer, LIFE puts people at the heart of every development and is committed to differentiation, soul and character. "We are all about increasing quality of life through a life-cycle cost approach, centred on sustainable use of energy, materials and space," explains Toon Haverals, CEO of LIFE.be. "We pay specific attention to identity, which is a very important concept for young people in full development – not only intellectually, but especially in their search for meaning and their place in life. We will be offering many different types of student housing, so there will be something for everyone."
There will also be room for ad-hoc student initiatives. "Creating a campus is an organic process, and we want to challenge the students to create their own campus as part of a kind of co-creation model. Various initiatives, such as student events, pop-up bars, food trucks and vegetable gardens will foster activation and contact, but also create connection, entrepreneurship and involvement. All of this will result in an attractive, high-quality public space," says Toon Haverals.
New campus in 2023
The permit application for the project will be filed at the end of this year, so construction can start in 2021. If all goes according to plan, the first students will be welcomed to the new student residences in academic year 2022-2023.
By then, it is hoped that there will also be a plan on the table for better public transport links, in cooperation with Antwerp city council and De Lijn, which will make the campus more accessible.
By focusing on an attractive ‘Campus 2.0’ for and by students, the University of Antwerp is gearing up for strong further growth in the coming decades.