Great ideas are born when strangers meet. That is the simple philosophy that lies behind the university’s Living Campus initiative. Part of the Campus Vision 2023, the project is spearheaded by the Facilities Management & Vastgoed (FMVG) and aims at making the campus a vibrant, living space that encourages an exchange of ideas in a fun, relaxing environment.
“We want students, employees and even visitors to feel at home here, to want to stay and unwind on campus even after hours,” explains Iljoesja Berdowski, Development Manager, FMVG. “Students are often away from home, on a limited budget and get caught up with work. They can be isolated and lonely. We want to help them build a network by social and professional. Knowledge and scientific ideas are born and shared when people across faculties and departments have spaces to meet. As a university, great ideas are our ultimate goal,” she adds.
Work on the Living Campus project began in 2013 and one of its first big kick-offs was the Free Zones project. On September 1, six outdoor zones on campus were declared ‘Free Zones’, which could be booked for any purpose with just a day’s notice. A team from various branches of the university came together with FMVG on this project. Informally called the FONC team (Free zones on campus), it comprises organisers from the Science Centre, Library, Sports en Cultuur and other branches.
Over the past year, they closely studied patterns of interaction and physical spaces where people seem to congregate - from coffee corners to cafes and entrance foyers. Some spaces, such as the BouwPub, were more popular than their counterparts and were designated hotspots. “We’ve been looking at these hotspots to try and understand what it is that makes them successful and how we can replicate that. Whether it’s wifi or cushions on the floor or relocating a café from the fourth floor to the ground floor.” says Berdowski.
As a forum that involves not only researchers and students across faculties but also schools, children, families and local business, the Science Centre is looking forward to sharing their expertise and expanding their programming. “We organise events such as First Lego Leagues, Museum nights, U-meets, Museum weekends, Science Camps and Science Day by ourselves. At this point we are looking for nice combinations to mix our current activities with the outdoor Freezone locations,” says Alexander Lokhorst, Marketing Sales Communication and PR Advisor, Science Centre. For instance, they are looking for an opportunity to roll out their Drone workshop at the Freezones. The workshop, to be held in collaboration with the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, will involve flying a drone to gather information for scientists. “The
Science Centre is seen as the gate to the university and the Freezones can been seen as the extension of this,” he adds.
During the winter, FONC will be looking at programming a number of indoor events and are also working on a joint calendar of all events across campus. “Our dream is to have an app for this one day, so everyone knows about every event and lecture on campus and can attend whatever they feel like,” says Berdowski.