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.
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”.
Last week our president Dirk Jan van den Berg gave a speech in Milan that created a buzz – for the 32nd Conference of Rectors and Presidents of European Universities of Technology. One of his quotes can be found below.
“I would argue that the university system in Europe is at least as determining for Europe’s future as the banking system. We too are too important to fail. So why not conduct a university campus stress test to assess the robustness of Europe’s higher education and research infrastructure. I fear the outcomes will be rather chilling and will call for an extensive overhaul of the existing facilities.”
BK city’s population is back after summer – working in teams, emphasizing the importance of a physical learning environment, next to all the online learning and online communities
Dirk Jan van den Berg also stated that there will be “no clicks without bricks”, highlighting the importance of a physical place to meet, interact and work. By definition, the university is a market place for knowledge exchange. We can replace some bricks with clicks, but we can’t and won’t replace them all. Without bricks universities are footloose and will neither be rooted in cities nor add value to the regional economy. I would even defend the proposition: without bricks a university can not be world-class (like the proposition: “a relationship can not be very good, when it is only virtual”). The need to physically interact is at the basis of both – see previous blog: “Students become tourists”.
This also became obvious when a combination of TU Delft, Wageningen UR and MIT won the competition for a new Technology Institute in Amsterdam: AMS (Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, but AMS is also Amsterdam’s airport code): see press release website TU Delft. One of the first questions that journalists asked was: “Where in Amsterdam?”. Innovation very much benefits from serendipity and physical interaction between ‘academic acquantainces’, scientists that inspire each other with different perspectives on the same subject (source: research Bentinck 2013 – email@example.com) – the success of thinking ‘out of the box’ also reflect this.
In the past weeks – inside our own BK city building – we experienced the importance of physical interaction (next to virtual interaction) in our own curriculum. Physical interaction leads to a higher priority in (the sometimes endless) ‘to do lists’ and to more focus when interacting: non-verbal behaviour is hard(er) to hide and the distraction that a smart phone brings, is easier to suppress when everybody notices.
It has been a very busy period – the end of the summer and the start of a brand new BSc curriculum at our faculty. Nonetheless, the energy of new students is contagious. Certainly when they have a group assignment like making a bridge, demonstrated in the 4-minute movie below. This movie not only makes you want to go back to school – in this case: our own school – it also shows our building BK city at its best.
All of the above made me very proud of my university, my faculty (department) and my colleagues. Yes, our new academic year had a very good start…
Today exactly 5 years ago – on May 13, 2008 – our Architecture faculty building went up in flames, after we had been evacuated safely. It destroyed the home base of more than 3000 students and 800 employees and – judged by all the reactions we received – a place full of memories for so many more alumni and former employees. It was a traumatic day for many… all academics lost their physical archives.
Our Architecture faculty building (1970-2008), Berlageweg 1, Delft, Netherlands (source: TU Delft)
Nonetheless, we used this crisis to (re-)build “BK city” at Julianalaan 134 in Delft and received compliments from all over the world for both the process (just months: BK city timeline and project organisation) and the result (new life for old academic heritage). It is amazing to realize how a disaster for the faculty could also bring so much success for the same faculty. As a BK city project team we are still very proud of what we achieved after the fire.
BK city = our Architecture faculty building (from September 2008), Julianalaan 134, Delft, Netherlands (source: TU Delft, photo: Rob ‘t Hart)
Since the fire I have given more than 80 lectures about the making of BK city – at least 40 with facility manager Dennis Cruyen – to groups from all over the world and on many stages world-wide. Of all the presentations since 2011 hand-outs can be found under DOWNLOADS. Since 2011 – when I published my book/dissertation “Managing the university campus” – presentations were usually a combination of theory and practice. Indeed, at BK city we have tried to practice what we preach. What we preach can be read in my dissertation/book and scientific publications, what we practiced can be found in the list of publications below.
Interview in newspaper AD – published last week – with TU Delft president Dirk Jan van den Berg and professor Hans Wamelink, who both had leading roles in the making of BK city.
BOOKLET (DESIGN GUIDE)
Patijn, Wytze en Dennis Cruyen, Alexandra den Heijer (tekst en redactie), BK City Guide, Delft: TU Delft, mei 2009. [Link to DOWNLOAD]
BOOK (in Dutch)
Den Heijer, Alexandra en Hans Dalmeijer, Etty van der Leij, Dennis Cruyen (2009), The Making of BK City, Bouwkunde, een jaar na de brand, Delft: TU Delft, december 2009. [Link to MORE INFO]
TU Delft’s 3-minute “The Making of BK city” video can be found on YouTube:
The HEDQF film below – released at a UK conference (AUDE 2012) – shows new academic places to work and learn (United Kingdom: University of Greenwich, Ravensbourne College, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Napier University Business School, Loughborough University, Finland: Aalto University, Netherlands: TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture / BK city):
This week we both received our plaque for the ‘Gulden Feniks’ (nomination) and our European Union / Europa Nostra cultural heritage award. The first was presented at the Provada’s Green Forum by Femke Halsema – with emphasis on sustainable solutions and about 150 people present – and the latter was an impressive ceremony with 1500 guests in the audience, including HRH Princess Margriet, at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.
TU Delft's president Dirk Jan van den Berg receives EU price from Plácido Domingo and Androulla Vassiliou
On June 10, 2011 TU Delft’s president Dirk Jan van den Berg received the EU / Europa Nostra award from Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and president of Europa Nostra.
Project team BK city is proud of the EU award - Alexandra den Heijer (brief), Dennis Cruyen (facilities) and Job Roos (co-ordinating architect)
Van den Berg publicly shared his joy about the award with BK city project team members in the audience, which was highly appreciated and emphasized the team work. The team also took this opportunity to celebrate the collective memories of an unforgettable process. Present were Wytze Patijn (chair design team, former dean), Hans Wamelink (chair project group, professor Design and Construction Management), Job Roos (co-ordinating architect), Johan Hogervorst (chair construction team), Dennis Cruyen (chair facilities team) and me (chair brief team). More information about the project and award (see menu): CASE BK CITY
BK city project team members before the Europa Nostra ceremony in Amsterdam: (from left to right) Alexandra den Heijer, Job Roos, Wytze Patijn, Dennis Cruyen and Johan Hogervorst
some members of the BK city project group - at the site where it all started
hard to believe the 42.000 m2 building was here"
Seems like a decade – the fire on May 13, 2008 – but it is really only three years… The empty site hardly shows any sign of the > 40.000 m2 Architecture building (see photos). Of course we all have our memories, from just a few to decades of work and from sharing some time to sharing life and love.
Nevertheless, we are proud of everything that happened after the fire and the new place to meet, work, live and love that we collectively created at BK city.
In the past weeks I have written two columns, an article (in Dutch) and a paper (in English). The newest column can be found by clicking this link nieuwbrief gebiedsontwikkeling.nu. I will upload the PDFs of all publications as soon as I receive them from the publishers – see DOWNLOADS.
In the meantime our project BK city received new awards and nominations in the past weeks. I am very proud of the EU price (Europa Nostra) for Cultural Heritage, both as a member of the BK city project team and as a user of the building – see CASE BK CITY for more information.
Author Alexandra den Heijer (professor of Public Real Estate, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft) started this blog when her book "Managing the university campus" was published in March 2011. The blog describes the process after her PhD defence (March 4, 2011): the publicity, many lectures, articles, papers, new research and visits to campuses all over the world.
Interested in joining our CAMPUS RESEARCH TEAM? See weblink for jobs: https://www.tudelft.nl/en/about-tu-delft/working-at-tu-delft/search-jobs/