VUB unveils largest campus expansion in its history

VUB unveils largest campus expansion in its history

New IXY complex exemplifies university’s growth & long-term vision

Brussels, 17 October 2019. Today, the new buildings I, X and Y will be inaugurated at the Brussels Humanities, Sciences and Engineering campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. With this new, eye-catching and environmentally friendly complex, which includes additional education and research infrastructure, the university wants to increase its capacity following its continued recent growth. To realise this new building project, which cost more than €60 million, the university worked with the Brussels architectural firm CONIX RDBM Architects.

The new IXY complex on Triomflaan covers more than 33,000m². The I building has 14 classrooms and auditoriums equipped with the latest technological teaching facilities. The X building comprises 650 student rooms and numerous student services, such as housing, financing and employment. The pillar-shaped building Y, with exhibition spaces, a bar and a concert hall, will be the site of Pilar, the culture house that succeeds the legendary KultuurKaffee. Finally, on the top floor of this building there will be a special council chamber for use by the Board of Directors and the University Council, as well as for press conferences and other functions. The entire IXY complex is the largest expansion of VUB’s main campus since it was founded 50 years ago.

Green connection to the city

The three modern buildings are built along a new avenue surrounded by trees that connects the heart of the campus with the edge of Triomflaan. This allows the university not only to emphasise its green character, but also to create a clear gateway between the university and its surroundings. “A closer relationship between academia and society, between VUB and Brussels, is one of our most important priorities,” says VUB rector Caroline Pauwels. “We already do this through various projects such as, but now our campus really shows that mission. The avenue offers, firstly, a view of our campus from the outside and, secondly, makes it easier for the people of Brussels to enter the campus. For our students, the path leads straight to the city.”

During construction, daylight control, movement sensors, heating and cooling systems incorporating heat recovery, heat pumps and rainwater recovery were installed to reduce the ecological footprint. The project cost €61 million in total and was financed through the issue of bonds.

Responding to growth

This expansion of the campus is part of the university’s strong growth in recent years. This year, VUB has seen a 17% increase in enrolments (subsidised courses) than in the previous academic year. This growth can be seen in both bachelor’s and master’s programmes (14% and 21% respectively) and across all faculties, in particular in law and criminology, psychology and education sciences, but is also very strong in science and bio-engineering programmes. In addition, this year the university has 10% more first-time students. The number of students enrolled at VUB has been increasing for some time: in the 2008/2009 academic year there were 9,687 students, today there are 16.508 students.

In addition, more and more foreign students are finding their way to our university. In 2017/2018, a quarter more international students studied at VUB than in the previous year. More than half of them come from outside Europe.

Research is booming

Finally, there is also clear growth in the field of scientific research. Between 2012 and 2019, the budget for scientific research increased from €77 million to €98 million. During this period, the number of PhDs per year also increased from 185 to 253, and the university has twice as many active spin-offs today as it did 10 years ago.

“The success of VUB is a combination of several factors. We are now known as a warm, open and small-scale university where free thinking and free research are central,” says Jan Danckaert, vice-rector for education and student affairs. “This clearly appeals to students and scientists. Our location in Brussels, the capital of our country and the heart of Europe, is also an important asset. This is particularly true for students from abroad. We hope, of course, to continue this positive trend and to strengthen our position at home and abroad.”


More info:
Jan Danckaert
Vice-rector, education and student policy
[email protected]
0486 488062

View our full Facts & Figures:

Press release includes photos, campus plan and a time lapse of the construction


About CONIX RDBM Architects

CONIX RDBM Architects occupies an important place in the world of architecture in both Belgium and the Netherlands and is active in several sectors and markets. Because each task is unique, CONIX RDBM Architects chooses not to specialise in a particular typology of buildings. Its broad portfolio consists of new construction and renovation of residential projects, residential care centres, public contracts, schools, cultural projects, commercial buildings, offices, bank buildings and industrial projects, as well as location developments, master planning, interior projects and product design. CONIX RDBM Architects gained international fame with the Belgian EU Pavilion for the World Expo in Shanghai (2010) and with the renovation and expansion of the Atomium (2005). The founders of CONIX RDBM Architects are the architects Christine Conix, Jorden Goossenaerts and Frederik Jacobs. The organisation consists of a multidisciplinary team of 65 employees who work across borders from offices in Antwerp, Brussels, Rotterdam and Terneuzen. CONIX RDBM Architects wants to create positive impacts and thus offer solutions to social challenges. It believes that every intervention in buildings and their surroundings offers an opportunity to sustainably improve life for those who live, work, pass by or just look at it. CONIX RDBM Architects does this by connecting: making an interdisciplinary synthesis between responsibility and aesthetics. 


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Jan Danckaert Vice-rector onderwijs- en studentenbeleid
Jan Danckaert Vice-rector onderwijs- en studentenbeleid
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Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


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