[All in the family] Mahieu
Lauranne, Rinus, Maurice and Marie le Mahieu. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

After completing his studies, Grandpa Rinus le Mahieu has seen plenty of his descendants at TU Delft. First his daughter Marie and now his grandchildren Maurice and Lauranne.

Lees in het Nederlands

“Do you know what I think is so special?” Grandpa Rinus le Mahieu says, kicking off the conversation. “That everything is so luxurious now. There is a big campus with wonderful buildings that have every conceivable comfort. In my time we didn’t even have heating. We sat in the barracks at Jaffa with our gloves on. I can tell you that that makes it difficult to draw.” His grandchildren Maurice and Lauranne le Mahieu look up in shock. Luckily they do not have to study in such extreme conditions. But they do have other issues. Lauranne, who is studying Clinical Technology, does not have a fixed place on campus. “I go to lectures in Leiden, Rotterdam and Delft. We run around all over the place. Even here at TU Delft it’s the same. I run from the Faculty 3mE to somewhere at EEMCS.” Aunt Marie le Mahieu is also impressed. “I studied Architecture and the Built Environment from 1985 to 1993 and each faculty was like a village in itself. You didn’t go to the other ‘villages’. It’s amazing how you now pick up a little of everything.”

Lauranne nods. “That village feeling is still there though. Each faculty has its own atmosphere. For example, Architecture and the Built Environment and Industrial Design have art on the walls. Very creative. Other faculties like 3mE and Applied Sciences are more matter-of-fact.” Her brother laughs. “As an outsider, I too see it straightaway. You feel it immediately!” He is doing a master’s in Industrial Design. “I really feel at home there. But I’m now doing a minor for which I need to be in the Science Centre pretty often. That’s fun too.”

 ‘I was very upset when it burned down’

While Lauranne sees many faculties from the inside, her favourite place is the X sports and culture centre. “I’m a member of the DSV Punch volleyball and basketball association so play in the sports centre about four times a week.” By coincidence, her aunt helped build the building. When she was graduating, she worked on the design of what was then called ‘the Mekelweg 10 cultural centre’. She has good memories of the old Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. “I was very upset when it burned down. It feels so weird that it’s not there anymore. It had so many treasures: maquettes, chairs and memories. I grew up there and it was a part of TU Delft.”

When Marie was not at the Faculty, she was spending as much of her time as she could in the studio that she rented with seven other friends. “It was an attic in the middle of town stuffed with drawing tables. One of us even had a computer, even though you couldn’t do that much with it. It was really slow.”

500 responses
Grandpa Rinus remarked that ever since he left Delft, one or other family member has always lived in Delft. That started with Marie, who lived in an attic room close to the church while she was studying. She answered an ad in the Delftse Courant. “The phone rang shortly afterwards. It was my landlord who had drawn my name out of over 500 applications. I could come and see the room.” When she thinks back to her room, she shivers. Literally, as it could be very cold. “That cold that my duvet froze in winter. When the snow started blowing in, I fixed insulation to the roof.”
Maurice and Lauranne remark that even in their aunt’s time at TU Delft, there was a shortage of accommodation. “Maybe it wasn’t as bad then as now as it took me six months to find a room,” says Lauranne. In the meantime, she lived with her boyfriend. Maurice was luckier. He found a great house through his cousin and could even choose his housemates. He moved to the Koornmarkt this year. “It’s exactly across the road where Grandpa used to live. The circle is closed.” Grandpa Rinus himself found a room through his sister who was already living in Delft. He later moved to Duivelsgat, barracks along the River Schie close to Paardenmarkt. “I was just engaged and this ring – he looks at his hand – suddenly fell off my finger into the sink and disappeared down the drain. It took a while, but I managed to fish it out with a hook.”

13th year students
Grandpa Rinus sometimes wishes that he had been born later. “Then I would be studying now. That would have been great. Oh well, I guess every generation says that. A lot has changed since I was at university. Students are under a lot of pressure now and need to earn their credits on time. We didn’t have all that.” Marie nods. “I taught at Architecture and the Built Environment for a while and was surprised about the amount of work that the students have to do. I earned my degree in seven years and they do it in five. When I was at university, I sometimes met students who were in their 13th year. That’s inconceivable now.” Lauranne says that “it starts at secondary school. Maurice and I had to go through a selection process to be admitted.” Maurice adds “but the first year was not that heavy. As long as you get your binding study advice and first-year diploma.”

Grandpa Rinus concurs. “Exactly. In our first year, we had a lot of tests throughout the year. If you passed, you hardly even needed to do the final exams. The atmosphere was also different then. In my time, there was quite a distance between students and professors. That’s not the case anymore, isn’t it?” Lauranne answers. Yes, there is less distance now. I often take small classes and it’s then easier to make contact with someone. I can email the teachers at any time and I sometimes even get a reply in the middle of the night.” Marie says that “things were very informal during my time at university. I had four professors who supervised me during my graduation phase. I saw them every week and could even address them informally.” In Grandpa Rinus’ day things were very different. “A professor then was definitely not a friend. I once had to do an oral exam in soil mechanics at Professor Schmidt’s house. When I arrived, his wife and two daughters were sitting there! They looked at me and said, ‘Dad’s so surly, it probably won’t go well’. I was really nervous.”

When he ultimately went inside, the very first question went wrong. The subject had two formulas: one with the sine and one with the cosine. Grandpa Rinus mixed up the formulas and was corrected by the professor. “I admitted my error and Professor Schmidt exclaimed ‘you’re just saying that!’. I got so angry that I answered ‘you are just saying that! The subject isn’t that hard!’ He agreed and in the end I even got a good grade.” Grinning, Grandpa Rinus admits that his response was ‘quite rude’ for the time.

My town
Despite the long history, all four family members do not think that having TU Delft in common is that exceptional. Maurice says that to him “what is exceptional is that we all live or have lived in the same town. Grandpa was right when he called Delft ‘my town’. I feel exactly the same.”