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Studying in a dormitory

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Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

Update Tapijn construction

There's music coming from the radio, there are electric heaters in the corners, and there's scattered building material on the ground. The first phase of the renovations at Tapijn barracks, in which the carré-buildings on the Prins Bisschopsingel were given a complete makeover, is almost finished. Some eighty to a hundred construction workers work there every day. Rob Driessen, project leader for construction company Mertens Bouwbedrijf, gives Observant a sneak preview.

But first he shows an impression of the final design in one of the site huts. Halfway through his story, about twenty-five carpenters enter and gather around the large standing table. Coffee break? “No,” says Driessen. “We work according to the ‘Lean’ method, which means that the carpenters are involved in the process: ‘We need to make this; how are we going to do it?’ They then divide up the work among themselves. This creates more involvement and makes working more pleasant for everyone. Ultimately you get a better quality.”

Only the ‘shell’ – the facade and the roof – as well as the supporting walls inside were kept, Driessen explains. “Sustainability is extremely important to the university, but when the barracks was built in 1916, no insulation was used. That is why we built a new insulated shell inside the buildings. All the new inner walls are white; the old ones have been restored to their original colour – half brown, half light grey, divided by a red line.”

The IJ and the DE buildings (to the left and to the right, respectively, looking from the Prins Bisschopsingel) will be identical, Driessen explains. “They will have study spaces and some offices. The larger FGH building in the middle will have similar spaces, with one big difference: there will be two large lecture halls on the ground floor.”

We walk with plastic 'shower caps' over our shoes on the first floor of the DE building. “This is where the soldiers used to sleep,” says Driessen. “We are now creating offices and classrooms here.” There are oak floors everywhere and the glass partitions that separate the space from the corridor “were made from reused leftovers.” That is why no glass partition is the same: there are wide and narrow pieces from regular as well as matt glass. The classrooms have wooden slats on the walls for acoustic reasons.

A dug-out corridor – or plinth – connects the three quadrangle buildings. This work is still in full swing. There is the sound of sawing and future study areas are being painted. To the right, there is a large glass wall that looks out onto what will become a staircase leading to the courtyard, the former parade ground. It is still a quagmire at the moment. “It will be a green space with various places to sit,” says Driessen.

“The first phase will be completed in January 2020, it will be furnished in February and the buildings will be put to use on the 2nd of March,” says Ralph Herben, UM real estate developer, afterwards. The buildings will be occupied, among others, by the School of Business and Economics and part of the University Library, says Herben. “They have been involved in the design of the layout of the buildings right from the start.”

Herben: “In phases 2 and 3, Shed V (Tapijn learning spaces), the W building and the Brasserie will be demolished, to make room for a large new building that will eventually also have an underground connection to the plinth.” This should all be finished by 2023.

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