UT gets air-supported dome and a temporary dance hall

| Jelle Posthuma

The strong growth of the UT leads to capacity problems at sports and cultural facilities on campus. An air-supported dome and a temporary dance hall must provide relief in the short term. In the meantime, the university is working on a long-term ‘master plan’.

Dance association Break-Even in the Vrijhof.

In 2021, the UT conducted research into the quality and capacity of sports and cultural facilities on campus. In addition, a survey was conducted among staff and students. These surveys show that the facilities have not kept up with the strong increase of students. For example, every UT student is entitled to at least two sessions of one and a half hours of sport per week, says sports coordinator Ingrid Bos. ‘But we cannot facilitate that right now. We are below the critical limit.’

Especially indoor sports activities grew out of their scope. ‘Among others, The volleyball and basketball associations have way more members. There are also too few free spaces for individual sports practices, which is particularly needed by international students.’ In addition to the capacity problems, the Sports Centre is due for an upgrade in terms of safety and accessibility, according to Bos. ‘The outer walls are too close to the sports field, the wheelchair friendliness leaves a lot to be desired and the indoor pool requires a facelift. In short, it needs to be tackled grandly.’

The cultural facilities also suffer from a lack of space, says program coordinator Evelien Bril. ‘It mainly concerns the dance associations, which have grown strongly in recent years. Dance lessons are given in rooms which are not intended for that purpose. And as a result, we have to postpone other activities, such as orchestras. We are also forced to rent space externally.’

A significant amount of catching-up and substantial investment is required, say Bos and Bril. That is why the UT is working on a ‘Sports and Culture master plan’ to make the facilities future-proof. Last summer, the Executive Board gave the green light for the first concrete plans. They concern temporary facilities and an upgrade of the Vrijhof. Culture gets a temporary dance hall. The sports facilities will be expanded with a so-called air-supported dome for indoor sports, such as hockey and volleyball, and an extra location for power sports.

According to Bos, the current gym in the Sports Center is not suitable for heavy weights. ‘At the U-track we want to place storage with racks for powerlifting and weightlifting. It concerns a semi-covered accommodation, which will only be accessible to UT employees and students.’ It is not yet known when the new facilities will be present on campus. A request for the necessary permits has been submitted to the municipality of Enschede. ‘We are also dependent on delivery times’, Bos knows. ‘But if it were up to us, we start next week.’

In addition to the new facilities, the Vrijhof will also receive an upgrade, says Bril. ‘Theatrical technique is the most urgent in this regard. For reasons concerning working conditions, the technology is due for renewal. To adjust lamps, employees still have to use a cherry picker. With a new system, it is possible to adjust the mechanisms from below. In addition, the floor and lighting of the foyer will be updated. The lighting on the outside will also be overhauled. This all to improve the visibility of the Vrijhof.’

The UT sees sports and culture on campus as an important added value, concludes spokesperson Bertyl Lankhaar. ‘We would like to retain this added value for the future. But that requires investment. With the new, temporary additions and the master plan, we want to keep the facilities on campus up-to-date.

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