Willemijn Beks (24), a final-year Bachelor's student of Artificial Intelligence, knows Science Park inside out. She has been advising on wishes for the new building LAB42 build by the UvA at Amsterdam Science Park.
For Willemijn, the consultation process will have achieved its objective if the new building ends up with the same atmosphere as the main building on Science Park. 'That building is nice and accessible and has a relaxed vibe. You can go there to study, meet, chill out with a cup of coffee, have lunch or use the bar for study association drinks.'
Willemijn, who chairs the Faculty Student Council for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing Science this year, enjoys her time at Science Park. 'You're out here all day, so it feels more like a community. There's a pleasant atmosphere and there's always something to do. In the summer, you'll find students sitting on the grass fields.' By the time the new building is finished, she will probably have completed her imminent Master's degree programme in Computer Science. Nevertheless, she is happy to let Benthem Crouwel Architects have the benefit of her opinion as a student.
Willemijn has been an active member of the 'education' working group, where she represented the Informatics students. At the working group's regular meetings, she alerted the architects to a number of her fellow students' key wishes. 'Plenty of study places and sockets, so that we can use our laptops everywhere. We'd also like a more formal bar for post-degree ceremony drinks. Personally, I'd also make sure there are enough windows in the lecture rooms to let in the necessary daylight.' The Informatics study association will have a more visible presence and more spacious accommodation in the new building. 'This is good news, as we expect the association to grow ever bigger in the years to come.'
Fortunately, the early design sketches she has seen have set her mind at rest. 'It will be a beautiful, open building that is a good stylistic match with the main building. Although its construction will eat up some green space, there will be plenty of greenery left over to create a pleasing combination with the modern buildings on site.' Willemijn has found the consultation process a worthwhile experience. 'You learn that each group of users has its own wishes. The architects try to distil them into a unified whole.' She wouldn't want to trade with students in beautiful old university buildings in Amsterdam's city centre or elsewhere in Europe for the world. 'Science Park really has a good thing going with its wealth of facilities. I'm perfectly happy here.'