“This project has everything,” says Ralph Herben from UM real estate and project leader of Tapijn with some irony. “Historical buildings, sustainability, nature, animal welfare, objection procedures, and even archaeological finds.” During excavation work around the three square buildings on the side of the Prins Bisschopssingel, remnants of outbuildings of the former Aldenhof convent, two cesspits and a well from the 15th century were found, says Herben.
Another objection procedure has been lodged too. This time against the building permit, says Herben. In 2017, residents from the neighbourhood made an appeal against the destination plan, especially because they were worried about the number of parking spaces. The Council of State didn’t agree with them. “Such objections are bothersome for the project, but people have the right to lodge complaints. For the project, this means that in the worst-case scenario, additional parking spaces will need to be created. A pity, because this is at the expense of green spaces.”
“We have actually been busy since the beginning of January,” says Herben. Laughing: “But it was difficult to get the managers from the parties involved – university, provincial and city councils – together at the same time for the starting shot.”
Bringing people together is the whole idea of this project. “Eventually, it should become a park where everyone, students among themselves but also ‘ordinary’ people from Maastricht, come in contact with each other." Herben thinks that a park is a good idea to achieve that. “University buildings are open to the public, but people don’t just walk in.”
During the first phase, the square buildings will be renovated. “There will be more classrooms, two large lecture halls and additional University Library study spaces,” says Herben. All buildings will be energy-neutral and eventually connected to each other by means of a ‘plinth’, or a new underground construction with among other things study and teaching rooms.
In the second phase, the rest will be redeveloped. “Loods V, (the sheds), the brasserie and the W building will be demolished and replaced by a new large building with, among other things, a lecture hall with 350 seats,” says Herben. It should all be completed by 2023. Not insignificant: “The animals will be returned to the new animal park in 2020, alderman Gert-Jan Krabbendam said during the opening.”