10 years after the BK fire…

by Alexandra den Heijer

Ten years ago today, our Architecture building went up in flames… still, many colleagues and alumni know exactly where they were when they heard the news. Nonetheless, the current generation of students – and many new colleagues since 2008 – have only heard the stories and are very happy (…) with our beloved and world-famous BK CITY.

June 9, 2008 - old BK building after fire - photo Hans de Jonge

old BK building (address Berlageweg 1, Delft) after fire – photo: Hans de Jonge

Where was I on May 13, 2008? That morning of the fire I was at work, at the 12th floor of the Architecture building… I was earlier than on a “normal” day and I was warned that the elevators did not work, due to a water problem on the 6th floor… When the fire alarm went off, I assumed the water problem had caused it and I left the building calmly, only with a student’s MSc thesis to read outside “while waiting until we could go back in”. I left my laptop at my workplace… We all gathered in the parking area – it took a while until we saw smoke. When someone said that the flames were already visible on the other side, we gradually started to realise that we might never get in again… Firemen had completely evacuated the building – no one was physically hurt, but many were traumatised by the loss of the building, their workplaces, their archives, their current projects and their second home.

From that day I was member of the project team that had to find a “new” building for the faculty (about 3000 students and 800 employees in 2008). That was a fulltime job until we welcomed the new students in September 2008 and all employees in November 2008, in a refurbished heritage building that we called “BK city” (@ Julianalaan 134 in Delft). Since then I have given many presentations about the fire and what happened afterwards – together with other team members – often with facility manager Dennis Cruyen – see DOWNLOADS. All publications about “The Making of BK city after the fire” were summarised in a previous blog post and can be found under PUBLICATIONS.

Some news items (only in Dutch) that cover “10 years after the BK fire”:

At BK city’s library (Julianalaan 134, 1st floor) a small exhibition memorises the fire of May 13, 2008 – 10 years later.

In the next months, we will gather facts and figures about the current use of BK city, to publish an article about “10 years BK city”. Until then, my most recent publication with “Lessons from BK City – after the fire 
– for university buildings of the future” can be found as a chapter in a book “Dreams and seeds: the role of campuses in sustainable urban development”.

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