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“The move has an enriching effect” Heading North-West #9: An interview with Tom Veldkamp and Freek van der Meer

Now that ITC has successfully moved to Langezijds, here is the final episode in the Heading North-West series of interviews. This time we spoke with Tom Veldkamp, Rector Magnificus of the University of Twente since 2020 (and previously Dean of ITC), and ITC’s current Dean, Freek van der Meer.

Tom, as Dean of ITC you were present at the earliest stages of the process that eventually led to the move. What do you remember from those days?

“I was involved in the integration of ITC into the university from the day I started as Dean in 2010. Even then it was said that there would only be real integration if ITC were to move to the campus. The UT is strongly linked to the campus, and by being so far away ITC tended to be viewed as something of an outsider. Through the years various suggestions were made for a possible location on campus, including a brand new building on the site of the Citadel, but those options were rejected for various reasons. At one point Mirjam Bult [then Vice President of the Executive Board of the UT; ed.] took the plunge to buy back the former UT lab building on Langezijds as housing for ITC. This decision fulfilled an old wish of mine, as I always thought it was a very suitable location.”

Freek, at some point you took over from Tom as Dean. What happened since and how did you experience the move as a process?

“First of all, I want to emphasize that my role in the move was modest. Credits should mainly go to the Housing Committee, which did the real work. What I particularly appreciated throughout the process is that it was incredibly participatory. When developing the plan of requirements, the Executive Board listened very carefully to what we needed as a faculty and also gave us plenty of space within the frameworks. We were actually part of the process, that is something I am most grateful for. In the design phase, when we as ITC took a more leading role, we continued that participatory approach by involving all future users of the building as much as possible.”

What do you think of the new building?

Freek: “I think it's fantastic. This is a modern education and research building, with lots of open spaces where people meet, and teaching areas that allow you to see things happening from the outside.” Tom: “I totally agree. It’s a contemporary building with a great eye for sustainability, and it may very well have become the most beautiful building on campus. I am very proud of it and I also think it’s a perfect match with the things that ITC stands for. In addition to providing housing this type of building serves to make a powerful statement as well.”

Tom, what does ITC’s becoming part of the campus mean for UT as a whole?

“To me it’s a nice conclusion to the integration process. ITC has fully participated in all domains within the UT for a long time, and this new accommodation makes it all complete. As UT, we think it’s important that students from all faculties feel free to visit any UT building they want. Our ambition is to be one large community instead of a collection of separate, closed entities. Besides. we want the campus to also be inviting and attractive to people who do not work or study with us. The new ITC accommodation certainly contributes to all this.”

Freek, what will the move bring ITC?

“As far as I’m concerned, ITC has been really part of the UT for years. The fact that we are now also physically close is the conclusion to a long process – but also the beginning of a new period in which we will continue to build cooperation in all kinds of areas. As to our students, I expect them to integrate even more easily from now on. They are really amazed to see all there is to experience on campus. In that respect, we used to live in a bubble, so to speak. The move has an enriching effect. When we were still in the building on Hengelosestraat, colleagues from the UT came all the way to visit us, often by appointment. Now they just walk in. That’s a completely different feeling.”


Heading North-West

In 2023, the Faculty ITC relocated to the campus of the University of Twente, where a former lab complex was transformed into a unique education and office building. As the move from the previous location on Hengelosestraat took ITC in a north-westerly direction, the project has been called “Heading North-West” by some. This is also the title of a series of articles in which ITC staff – both scientific and supporting – and students were interviewed about their reasons for being excited about the impending move. Please visit utwente.nl/ltsh for more information. Check this photo album to view the building progress, photographed by Jeroen Verplanke.