Wheelchair-friendly renovation for Waaier 4

| Rense Kuipers

The lecture and PhD defence hall Waaier 4 will undergo a major renovation in the coming months. The stage will become more accessible for people with physical disabilities and more suitable for promotional ceremonies. The upholstery, ventilation and audiovisual equipment will also be upgraded.

Photo by: Kuipers, Rense (UT-GA)
Artist impression by Defesche van den Putte

The wish to make Waaier 4 – also known as the Berkhoffzaal – more accessible for disabled people,  has existed for some time, explains Ray Klumpert, Head of Maintenance and Real Estate at Campus & Facility Management (CFM). 'It is a hall with a slope and a raised podium. During the initial construction, accessibility for the disabled was sidelined for cost reasons, which meant that for years people had to move to a different hall.'

Wheelchair lift

 Together with the architectural firm Defesche van den Putte, CFM drew up a plan to get a wheelchair lift into the hall. 'That would mean removing one row of chairs and laying a new floor, in addition to installing the wheelchair lift. It is an expensive renovation, but the Executive Board agreed to it.'

According to Klumpert, this major alteration is a reason to further modernise the hall. 'We will adapt the ventilation, reupholster the chairs and install a wooden wall. There will also be a LED screen instead of the current beamer,' he says. 'If you do renovate the hall, it is better to do it right.'

Set-up for PhD defences

Moreover, Waaier 4 has been mainly used for PhD ceremonies. For this reason, the layout of the stage will also be adjusted. 'It was far from ideal. Now the reading standis in the middle and a doctoral candidate often stands with his or her back to part of the doctoral committee. This set-up will also be adjusted, so that the candidate can address the committee directly.'

This adjustment does mean, however, that Waaier 4 will be primarily suitable for PhD defences, says Klumpert. 'In principle, it is still possible to give lectures there, but the new set-up makes the room less usable for most lectures. Because the infrastructure for doctoral ceremonies - the beadle room, senate room and doctoral candidate's room - is immediately present around Waaier 4, we can designate this hall for this purpose.'

Renovation completed in November

The renovation will start in a few weeks' time, in week 31. 'That ensures the least possible inconvenience,' says Klumpert. According to the planning the renovation will be completed in November.

The costs are 'quite serious' according to Klumpert. 'Just making the hall accessible for people with disabilities will cost more than 600,000 euros. That is a bit of a shock for one room and was also the reason for not doing it at the time, when the Waaier was built. But the Executive Board and the Twente Graduate School consider this very important. And I understand it very well; in this day and age, the conditions in this hall are no longer acceptable.'