Zernike becomes Silicon Valley
That is the new vision that was published by the RUG, the Hanzehogeschool, the municipality and the province on Wednesday. They will be investing 14 to 17 million euros to transform the mostly grey Zernike into a bustling Silicon Valley.
According to City Counsel member Roeland van der Schaaf, the transformation is meant to lead to more collaboration between academic institutions and businesses. ‘Now, Zernike is clearly divided into the southern section where all the academic institutes are located, and the northern section where all of the businesses are. We want a better mix so that it really becomes one area.’
Zernike has a fairly industrial appearance at the moment. In the evenings and weekends, it’s basically dead, according to University board member Jan de Jeu. That has to change. ‘It will become more park-like, and there will be more facilities: restaurants, stores, cafes and maybe a hotel. It’s crucial for us that the area becomes a pleasant destination.’
The bike paths that lead to Zernike will be improved, traffic safety addressed, walking paths and sports facilities added, and the bus stops will also get a facelift.
Student housing will also be considered, but no concrete plans have been made yet. An estimate of the costs has to come first. In any case, it won’t be a huge number of rooms, Van Der Schaaf says. But it will be considerably more inviting if there are people around outside normal business hours. The Hanzehogeschool and the RUG think that Zernike could be especially interesting for international students.
‘We’re thinking about it for exchange students who are here for three to six months, or summer school students’, says De Jeu. According to Henk Pijlman, director of the Hanzehogeschool, the students don’t necessarily have to live on campus. ‘It may also just be in the neighborhood.’
The RUG has set aside 350 million euros to invest in the Zernike Campus and the expansion of the Healthy Ageing campus. That includes Zernikeborg, Energy Academy and new additions at UMCG. The Hanzehogeschool is investing 80 million euros in buildings and facilities, such as restaurants, at Zernike.
The northern highway will also be upgraded. The bridge over the Zonnelaan will get a paint job in a bright color to serve as a kind of gateway. The RUG also wants traffic safety to be addressed by creating a multi-level intersection for cyclists and drivers. But according to the municipality, that is too expensive.
‘The off ramps from the highway can lead to risky situations. We want to prevent that by installing traffic lights. But if we want to make the area more attractive and we want to encourage more visitors, those problems will increase. We are going to consider a multi-level intersection in the future’, Van Der Schaaf says.
See the presentation about the new Zernike campus for yourself.