Sunday, February 12, 2017

Belgium and The Netherlands 2017: the undergraduate story

The 2017 field trip to The Netherlands (and Belgium). As usual, students on the BSc Construction Project Management and the BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management travelled alongside the postgraduate students in construction, but this year there are two blog posts as the itineraries had a different focus. This is the undergraduate story (photos by George Blumberg). Click on the blue links for more information.

Urban reinvention in North Amsterdam

This field trip takes advantages of key aspects of urban design, engineering and construction in the Netherlands and Belgium which make it a unique and powerful living classroom. There are things that planners, architects and constructors do better here than than anywhere else. For example, spontaneous communities centered on the creative industries are often able to bring back to life desolate, semi-abandoned industrial sites.

Urban reinvention is the cities of Utrecht and Breda, the centres are being painstakingly redeveloped to accommodate and encourage modern transport practices shifting away from domination by the car. Cycle superhighways and pedestrian thoroughfares are being introduced which are centred around multi-purpose and architecturally stunning transport hubs. Canals and other green spaces are being reintroduced into city centres to help encourage a richer community life and a better natural environment. To help make sense of the disruption caused by major works, public information centres abound. The staff of these help promote and explain the massive multi-year projects and help with education and community engagement.

Perhaps the most invigorating aspect witnessed during the field trip is the ubiquitous application of artistic and design elements that result in a high-quality, attractive and elegant modern urban environment. In order to get to students to respond and document their visits, they are given workbooks that are then used to create a diary or scrapbook. And on to the trip itself...

After crossing over to Belgium on 22 January, the first stop was in Antwerp for a visit to the Antwerp Central Rail Station and the Museum aan de Stroom. The award-winning redevelopment of Antwerp Central Rail Station manages to combine old (the original late 19th century building) with new (transforming it from a terminus to a through station suitable for high speed trains). The students moved onto the Museum aan de Stroom which was completed in 2011 and is the centre point of the regeneration of the Antwerp dockside area. The building was designed by Willem Jan Neutelings, of Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

Visit to the Museum aan de Stroom

The students travelled on to Amsterdam, their base for the next few days. Discover the places they visited on the second day for yourself by clicking on the blue links. The day started with a presentation at Amsterdam Museum, by Ton Schaap (Amsterdam Development Office) about urban planning and development in Amsterdam and was followed by a visit to see the development at Amsterdam Central Station. The students took a ferry across the river Ij and enjoyed an afternoon tour of the Eye Film Museum and a selection of areas in Amsterdam North.

From Amsterdam Central Station, across the river Ij to Amsterdam North

The next day, Tuesday 24 January, and the students visited Rotterdam. They were there to visit the Central Station and also attend a presentation about the building of Rotterdam Central by Ria van Wingerden from Geemente Rotterdam. In the afternoon they went for a look around Markthal (the first covered market in the Netherlands and a beautiful building), and then on walking tours of the city, ending in Katendrecht, once the 'red light' area, now undergoing redevelopment.

Exploring Rotterdam

Wednesday 25 January and the students left Amsterdam for a trip to the city of Utrecht, visiting the National Military Museum on the way. Once in Utrecht, they had plenty of time to take in the city before meeting at the Infocentre for a presentation about about the (historic and modern) city of Utrecht. Take a look at Utrecht's bid to be Cycling City 2016 (they didn't win, but it's a great way to see the city)...

The National Military Museum


Thursday 26 January and the last day of the field trip. The students left Amsterdam and headed for Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands, where they visited Breda Central Station for a short presentation from the Lead Councillor for Regeneration and a tour of the station development. The field trip was picked up by the local news channels, who filmed the Central Station tour and interviewed the students about their findings...

And some more news items about the Oxford Brookes students in Breda...
Redactie BredaVandaag (video)
BN DeStem

After a quick trip into Breda itself, the students boarded the coach for the return trip to Oxford. George took lots of photos during the trip and some excellent shots of our students. This is George's portrait gallery:

Our students by George Blumberg

For more information about our undergraduate courses in construction take a look here:

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