Photographer:Fotograaf: Dutch Culture Night ESN
MAASTRICHT. The International Students Club is to be housed in the Timmerfabriek on the Boschstraat. This will not be until 2017, but the decision has been made after years of discussions about a suitable meeting place for international students. Maastricht University and the city council signed a declaration of intent today.
The Timmerfabriek, part of the former Sphinx factory complexes, is “a permanent option,” says Martin Paul, Executive President of Maastricht University. The International Students Club, according to him, fits in well in “this new, young neighbourhood,” a cultural hotspot already home to the Muziekgieterij and Bureau Europa. Art cinema Lumière hopes to move to the adjacent Ketelhuis and Pathé is building a new cinema across the road from that.
Until recently, there were two alternative locations: Vrijthof 23 and the Augustinian church on the Kesselskade. But these buildings would require renovations and permits would have to be applied for. Besides they are in the centre of town and that could mean competition for nearby pubs and restaurants.
The International Students Club will take over the Muziekgieterij’s ‘old’ hall in the Timmerfabriek. In addition to a multifunctional hall suitable for parties, cultural events, workshops and lectures, there will also be a boardroom. This has all been planned for 2017. The Muziekgieterij’s concert hall will first have to move to the other side of the building. The poppodium is also going to build a large club for up to 1,100 visitors on the corner of the same street, which used to be the De Ossekop hotel.
To bridge the time until 2017, the Maastricht section of ESN, the largest student organisation in Europe, which deals mostly with exchange students, will use the Muziekgieterij’s hall on Monday and Tuesday. A separate space will be created for the board meetings and smaller gatherings. ESN will act as “primary operator,” says Paul, but he emphasises that the club is also open to Dutch students “who are interested in an international environment”. ESN will sign a tenancy agreement with Maastricht University, who in turn will rent the space from the city council. The parties in the International Students Club will be of a private nature (only open to members).
The International Students Club – a provisional name – is one of the main themes of the Student & City project that was started in 2013. The rationale behind such a club is that foreign students miss having a permanent base, while there is a definite need. Paul: “Fifty per cent of our students are foreign. It is good that we now have a home base for them.” They were often the source of annoyance for those who lived around them as they organised parties at home, lacking a proper alternative location. The Dutch student organisations do not appeal to foreign students, if only for the fact that Dutch is the prevailing language.