VU Campus

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vibrant city campus with an urban dynamic

As a top international university with both bachelor’s- and master’s-level education, the Vrije Universiteit (VU) requires a vibrant city campus with an urban dynamic. The mingling of functions is essential: learning, working, relaxing, and living make the Knowledge Quarter into a vibrant part of the Amsterdam Zuidas. karres+brands was asked to draw up a concept for the public space of the new Knowledge Quarter and a strategy for the public space of the VU campus.

The concept is not primarily concerned with making beautiful quads and buildings, but rather about bringing people together. After all, an inspiring environment consists mainly of opportunities for meeting and exchange between inspiring spirits. In essence, a high concentration of brainpower, knowledge, and interaction between people is also present on the VU campus. Informal work environments, from courtyard to canteen, and from sports field to library, are therefore gaining increasing significance.

The phased development of the Knowledge Quarter necessitates a flexible approach to public space. Changing conditions or new insights require designing a public space that is able to respond to change and uncertainty. At the same time, the possibly temporary organisation of part of the public space is actually a permanent situation, for example, for a student who is studying at the VU for only three years. The concept is also based upon robust principles and detailed building blocks. These building blocks ensure that the desired consistency grows gradually over the course of time.

In the first design sketch, in order to test this strategy, karres+brands proposed a new, multi-purpose quad as the heart of the VU campus. This square will be the living room of the university, and is the foremost place for spending time and making encounters. At larger places, there is space for liveliness, but also for green, rest, and exercise. In addition, karres+brands designed a roof garden on one of the existing buildings together with students within the context of this concept.

Project data
Location ​Amsterdam, Netherlands Google Maps
Assignment ​Design concept and strategy for campus public space and sub-plans for area organisation
Size ​12 hectare
Design ​2010 – present
Construction ​2012 – 2013
Status ​Strategy, concept, design sketch
Client ​Vrije Universiteit
Team ​Bart Brands, Sylvia Karres, Charlotte Ernst, Daphne van der Wal, Jeroen Brinkers, Sander Vedder, Milda Jusaite
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