Many still know it as the old V&D building, later the Canadian department store Hudson’s Bay briefly moved into it, but the iconic building on the Grote Marktstraat in The Hague is given an academic destination. Together with Leiden University, the Open University and the Universities of the Netherlands (formerly VSNU), TU Delft will be co-residents in the Spui building in 2025. Behnam Taebi (Faculty of Technology, Politics and Management TU Delft) and Jaco van Noppen (Campus Real Estate & Facility Management TU Delft) believes that the ideal place to bring engineering knowledge closer to the heart of politics and management.
The decision has been made and the lease has been signed: TU Delft will soon move into a part of the building at Spui, which will continue as the Spui University Building after a major renovation. The location is good for TU Delft’s positioning and visibility in the city of peace, justice and security, and this is exactly what Behnam Taebi has been committed to for several years. “We see it as part of our social responsibility to bring our knowledge and expertise closer to the heart of politics and governance. Physical proximity helps,” says professor of energy and climate ethics and figurehead for TU Delft in The Hague.
You can hardly get any closer. The new location includes not only the former department store on Grote Marktstraat, but will have an entrance on Spui: diagonally opposite where the entrance to the House of Representatives will be built in 2026. “Together with Leiden University and the other partners, we want to build a university building there, which must become the ‘place to be’, a place where administrators and policy makers can just stop by,” says Taebi. Martijn Ridderbos, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Leiden University, is equally enthusiastic: “There is enormous energy among all the partners involved. The Spuigebouw acts as a magnet for all kinds of fruitful collaborations. We want to see how we can learn from each other and strengthen each other.”
Closer to the question
The Hague is not only the seat of the national government, but as the second UN city in the world, it is also a springboard for important issues of international politics and governance. Hilbert Bredemeijer, Councilor for Education in The Hague: “As a city, we are of course happy that so many engineers have come to study right in the center. A beautiful place opposite the town hall and the House of Representatives, where these students will once again put in extra effort. The cooperation between the universities is of course something that I, as a councilor for education, can only greatly encourage.”
And being closer to that question is precisely one of the starting points in The Hague. “We can organize our work better if we know the need from politics. The solutions to the major challenges of the coming decades depend to a large extent on technological innovation. Let’s think about this together with politicians in the spirit of co-creation, even before we come up with solutions,” says Taebi. “Our broadly trained engineers can help think of socially accepted, more broadly supported solutions.” Climate and energy, digitization, security: These are largely topics where proximity to politics and administration is important, topics that TU Delft is already working on in The Hague.
No closed offices
“This location is unique,” says Jaco van Noppen. As a director at CREFM, his responsibilities include the TU Delft Campus Strategy, the housing and property plan for the coming years. “Located in the center of The Hague, near the Binnenhof, walking distance from the station and easily accessible by public transport.” At the moment, work is being done on a design for the interior: “The open structure and interior design should make meetings between students and lecturers accessible and promote collaboration with the partners.
No closed offices; you choose a room based on the activity you have planned for that day.” The meetings are further promoted by the shared facilities, such as the teaching rooms, the restaurant and the bicycle shed. However, TU Delft can create its own identity, which is important for visibility. “All residents’ logos will be placed next to the entrance. Because Leiden University is the initiator and main tenant, but we are all equal partners, we radiate that.”
See the virtual tour through the new university building Spui here.