Amsterdam city centre is home to the University Quarter, the historical heart of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). It is the birthplace of our University, where knowledge, culture and reflection are intertwined.
The campus is a logical home base for students and staff, and local residents and entrepreneurs. It is home to teaching and research activities of the Faculty of Humanities and the University Library. Facilities related to the UvA will have a prominent place, such as a theatre, museum and an events venue.
What are the ambitions and objectives that the UvA hopes to realise with the development and upgrade of the University Quarter?
The UvA aims to maintain a real estate portfolio that is mainly focused on teaching and research. This is concentrated on four city campuses (also see the article on campus development). Campus development ensures that the quality of the buildings and the outdoor environs are improved. By creating teaching and research facilities adapted for flexible use, UvA faculties will be better able to accommodate fluctuations in student numbers.
The international developments in the humanities, such as multidisciplinarity, have had a major impact on the Faculty of Humanities as well as on its accommodation, and the Faculty would like to respond quickly to these developments. As a consequence, new clusters may evolve, such as Heritage or Digital Humanities. These organisational units will need to find a place in the new accommodation that allows their interdisciplinarity to flourish. The Faculty finds it important that, as a whole, the various buildings form a unit with identical service levels.
The University of Amsterdam aims to strengthen the mutual bonds within the University community and promote cooperation. Students, lecturers and researchers should be able to interact with one another, share insights and opinions, encourage one another and work together naturally and easily. However, faculties and other organisational units should also be able to create their own atmosphere and identity at their part of the campus. This will create a familiar place with familiar faces for everyone within the open urban campus.
The University Quarter is the home base for students and researchers of the Faculty of Humanities. These students want to develop themselves into investigating individuals with a critical mindset, who are able to embark on independent lives and careers in academia and society. These academics enjoy seeking out the unbeaten paths and addressing today's issues in their own distinctive manner as humanities scholars. The Faculty finds it very important that it appeals to students in the national and international market, as well as being able to attract leading talents in the field of research and other academic sectors.
Campus accommodation – being able to occupy a unique space as an organisational unit – contributes to the UvA's institutional profile in general, and to that of the Faculty of Humanities in particular. The Allard Pierson further enhances the appeal of the University Quarter. In future, these in turn will be complemented by new, distinctive facilities, such as the University Library and the Humanities E-Lab. In addition, there will be the opportunity to showcase new research. There will be various flexible ways in which the Faculty of Humanities will be able to do so in the University Quarter, and other faculties as well.
With regard to valorisation, the Faculty intends to continue to make an even stronger mark and is specifically seeking partnerships that can contribute to this goal. This could concern academic organisations, the business world, but also UvA's own valorisation businesses serving as spin-offs of the Faculty teaching and research areas, with the University Quarter currently home to the Humanities Lab AVS (Amsterdam Venture Studios). This is a testing ground for experimenting with the valorisation of business plans and research originating at the Faculty of Humanities. In addition, in the BOS cluster of buildings, the Faculty has entered into a close partnership with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). These partnerships ensure that, once complete, the University Quarter will form the largest humanities cluster in Europe.
The University Quarter is where the University of Amsterdam first saw light. As a result, it is of major representative value to the University, with its historic buildings in Amsterdam city centre making the University Quarter the calling card of the UvA. The University Library is a facility serving the entire University, and it will fulfil other representative functions as an information and debate centre, a conference venue, as well as the offices of the Executive Board and the Executive Staff.
The UvA made the conscious decision to create the University Quarter in Amsterdam city centre, opening itself to the outside world in this area. The campus is a meeting place for everyone seeking reflection and academic debate, set in the centre of the city, as well as in the centre of society.
The UvA has long occupied buildings in this area, as well as tending to gardens, courtyards and parts of the public spaces there. The location is an ideal one for providing Faculty students an academic education thanks to its proximity to and relationship with the outstanding art and cultural heritage found in Amsterdam city centre. Both students and staff can avail themselves of the countless cultural and social venues and facilities that the city has to offer.
Investing in the city and creating places where students, staff, knowledge institutions and the business world meet face to face may lead to new ideas, the exchange of knowledge and new partnerships. These are all developments that benefit teaching and research, as well as the city.
Working together with the city of Amsterdam has an important role to play. In future, the Faculty of Humanities will be seeking out further partnerships, hoping to further strengthen the bonds with the city, to the benefit of both the city and the University.
The UvA will therefore be working together with the municipal authorities (City of Amsterdam) and other property owners in the area, such as De Key housing association, hotel owners and private home owners. The City of Amsterdam owns part of the public space, while other parts of it are UvA property. In close collaboration with the municipality, a management plan is being drawn up for the area, which can build on existing structures, such as the way in which the 1012 postcode area was dealt with.
In addition, the UvA is assuming the lead role in developing a vision for the public space. Not only should the public space facilitate the above UvA vision, but it must also be a sustainable and smart area that is future-proof, reflecting such ideals as car-free, energy-neutral, circularity, etc.
The neighbourhood, including local residents and entrepreneurs, will play a role in the development, forming a very committed group. Creating an area design with a broad support base will require finding the proper balance between studying, working, visiting and living, something that is crucial to both the UvA and its immediate environment.