Utrecht University’s real estate recalibrated

Towards future-proof housing

To provide maximum support and suitable, affordable housing for our education and research activities, in 2019 the university drew up a real estate strategy in the form of the Strategic Housing Plan (or SHP). The strategy is refined and recalibrated every two years. Recalibration is needed in order to adjust the real estate strategy to our organisation’s needs and to adapt to developments in the areas of research, education and how we work together and current events such as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The university is working to provide housing and campuses that are functional and future-oriented, and that encourage contact, community forming and multidisciplinary collaboration. The real estate strategy sets frameworks and guidelines that our housing should meet. During the recalibration of the strategy, we joined with the faculties to examine whether the frameworks still fit our needs and preferences for future housing and to process changes in the world around us.

Strategic and functional frameworks for our real estate strategy 2021:

  • There is enough housing for everyone
  • Our housing and campus support interactions and contact, the formation of a close community and multidisciplinary collaboration.  
  • Buildings are safe and comply with legislation and regulations
  • Our buildings, energy and spatial development are sustainable, flexible and future-proof. 
  • Our total housing costs may not exceed 15% of the university’s total revenue.

Continuing along our current path

The real estate strategy was first approved in 2019, and we will generally continue along our current path. For example, we have made great strides in improving safety and the continuity of operations in several buildings. We will also continue with the plans to replace the older buildings from the 1960s and ‘70s (the ‘Big 5’) at Utrecht Science Park. 

Development plans in preparation or already started:


Development plans

City Centre 

To expand and improve the teaching facilities in the city centre (incl. redevelopment of Achter de Dom 20-24) and moving departments of Philosophy, Politics & Economics and the University School of Economics to the city centre. Renovation of Achter Sint Pieter 200. Complete implementation of Integral Housing Plan for city centre.

Utrecht Science Park Centre

Redevelopment of the Van Unnik building for Social and Behavioural Sciences, University Corporate Office and education. 
Develop the centre (Heidelberglaan) as an area for interaction with facilities and hospitality/retail. New energy infrastructure for sustainable heating and cooling from underground. 

Utrecht Science Park North West

Redevelopment of entire Kruyt building, including 4th wing for Faculty of Science; Circular Pavilion as entrance to Botanic Gardens. Demolition of Earth Sciences building and new spatial development with room for activities and interaction.

Utrecht Science Park East

New construction (and deaccession) in accordance with the Veterinary Medicine Integral Housing Plan. New energy infrastructure for sustainable heating and cooling from underground. Project development in cooperation with UMC Utrecht.  

International Campus Utrecht

Eventual move of University College Utrecht (UCU), Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) and Utrecht University School of Economics (USE). USE and PPE will move to the city centre. A location analysis is currently being conducted for UCU. 

What will change in the real estate strategy?

The faculty deans and department directors have listed which changes and developments they have observed that have an effect on education, research and office work. This input will be used to help determine the university’s housing demands.  

Office work

The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the wide variety in work styles among our colleagues. Several studies have shown that the majority of employees would like to maintain that variety. We still need to conduct a careful analysis and evaluation of that need, however. The implementation can differ per faculty, department or section. Several faculties and departments are examining various potential workplace concepts. In general, the university has decided that our housing should focus more on facilitating interaction and collaboration, and less on solitary office tasks. We therefore expect that around 40 percent of our office work will eventually be performed somewhere else, such as at home. That will leave more than enough workstations for employees who have to work at the office.  


We were forced to conduct all of our educational activities remotely over the past year. Fortunately, students are now allowed to return to campus. But as the number of students grows, we will have to use our educational facilities more efficiently. More hybrid teaching formats, with a certain degree of education provided without a set time or place and more hours available for classes in the schedule are some examples of how we could make better use of the available space. These options will require more detailed consideration by the Student & Academic Affairs (S&AA) office and the vice-deans of education. Several education spaces are being equipped with modern digital facilities to accommodate the new work methods and teaching concepts. 


Multidisciplinary collaboration requires research facilities where scientists can come together and join forces over the boundaries of their individual fields. That includes collaborating with the business community and other social organizations. The university’s laboratory facilities should facilitate these needs. The Faculty of Science’s experimental research activities are constantly expanding. The redevelopment of the Kruyt building will free up the empty fourth wing of the building to accommodate that growth.

City centre and Utrecht Science Park campuses as places for interaction  

The campus will be the place where we come together to work and learn. The layout of these areas should therefore accommodate that need. The spatial planning strategy for Utrecht Science Park, which was added to the real estate strategy this year, lists some objectives for the continued development of the USP. We will realise more student housing, improved hospitality and retail facilities, better accessibility and a safe, green, high-quality outdoor area for interaction and relaxation. Similar activities will be conducted in the city centre to facilitate interaction.  

Energy transition 

The university is hard at work on the energy transition. Our goal is to create a future-proof energy supply that consumes as little energy as possible, while being CO2-neutral. That means we will invest in reducing our energy consumption by making our real estate portfolio more sustainable. We will also generate more sustainable green energy ourselves, and purchase green energy from utility providers.  

Long-term strategy and challenges 

The real estate strategy offers a guiding star for our long-term course, but in the mean time we will undoubtedly face short-term issues, such as how we schedule our curriculum. To solve these problems, we will first consider how we can make optimal use of the available space and other organisational measures. If these do not offer solutions to the problem, then we can consider the option of renting or leasing temporary space. 

What will the recalibration of the real estate strategy mean for you?  

The real estate strategy is a tool for solving all of the university’s foreseeable long-term housing challenges. Each faculty or department can then use the strategy and input provided by staff and students to draw up its own Integral Housing Plan. These plans will result in a variety of development plans and projects. The timing will differ from faculty to faculty.  

The real estate strategy will be recalibrated again in 2023, to ensure that it continues to address our housing needs in the future.  

Questions and contact

If you have any questions about the recalibration of the real estate strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: communicatieVenC@uu.nl.