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Free Zones on campus

Making the most while the sun shines is not a cliché in the Netherlands. It’s a survival tactic. To help the TU Delft make the most of the sunshine, the department of Facility Management and Real Estate, together with various campus organisations, launched the all new Free Zones across campus on September 1.

These zones are outdoor spaces that can be booked online at a maximum of a day’s notice by anyone with a campus card. Equipped with plug-points for electronics and just a few basic safety rules, they are open for all kinds of activities, from sports to parties.

Free Zones are part of a larger campus-wide initiative called Living Campus. As part of that, we asked people the one thing they would do to make better use of campus space and an almost unanimous answer was to use the outdoor space with better programming,” says Iljoesja Berdowski, development manager, Facility Management and Real Estate.

While the campus has a lot of space, for any faculty or student group to book outdoor space meant weeks of planning, permissions and paper work. And, given how erratic the weather is, it often fizzled out into a wet day. Ideal for impromptu planning, the Free Zones are six designated areas on campus that be booked at a maximum of a two-day notice and by anyone with a campus card. While there are some housekeeping rules, it’s mostly a relaxed space that can be booked for anything from a zumba class to a going-away party. Housekeeping rules include no alcohol, not more than 250 people and no music amplification. Open from 9:00 to 21:00, they are also free of charge.

“The zones chosen are places where there is a lot of natural footfall, places where students automatically congregate. The idea is that this will encourage more activities and meeting points outside of the classroom,” Berdowski adds. These include a large clearing near the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, two at the Mekel Park, one medium-sized space near the EWI building, a space in front of the Aula and one in between the library and the Aula. The spaces will be marked with large red signs saying Free Zones.

To illustrate the myriad ways in which Free Zones can be used, a Convoi de Fete was held, a travelling festival with food trucks, live performances, photo booths and even acrobats.

Chronicling the Free Zones is a blog, currently being managed by Tiwanee van der Horst, Student Assistant, Marketing and Communication, Science Centre Delft. “Anyone who uses one of the zones can send us images or an article and we will happy to upload them on our blog,” she says. 

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