U bent hier
The ceremonial unveiling of a memorial plaque on the morning of Monday 13 June was the official starting signal for the construction of the new VUB culture tower. The tower is part of the future XY complex on the Etterbeek campus located on the Triomflaan. Minister of Culture Sven Gatz has set aside half a million Euros for the culture tower. “The Kultuurkaffee is dead, long live the Kultuurkaffee”, said the Minister.
The culture tower, with a new café, a concert hall and an exhibition hall, is scheduled to be finished by the spring of 2018. Wim De Pauw of the VUB Culture Department stressed that studying at the VUB involves more than just accumulating knowledge, adding: “The new infrastructure not only provides the VUB with new opportunities, it will also play a role in the greater cultural landscape of Brussels and Flanders.”
“In front of you, you see a satisfied Rector”, said Rector Paul De Knop. “We are going to start the largest construction project since the construction of this very campus in the nineteen seventies.”
The ceremony took place in front of the VUB Housing service, on the edge of the gigantic construction site which immediately sets out the size of the full XY project: over 20,000 square meters. The VUB enlisted on the stock market in order to fund the project. “However, the VUB itself is not listed on the stock market”, emphasized Paul De Knop. “What we did do is issue long-term bonds; a transaction that netted 61.5 million Euros.”
Facing the city
An additional 500,000 Euros was provided by the Flemish Government for the VUB culture tower itself, which is hereby officially recognized as a so-called supra-local youth infrastructure. Money well spent, according to Rector De Knop, because thanks to the new construction, the campus will be “facing outwards, towards the city, and no longer has its back to the city as before. The city is always there for the VUB and the VUB is there for the city.”
In his speech, Minister of Culture Sven Gatz spoke about the history of the Kultuurkaffee and how it became a household name in Brussels and Flanders. Sven Gatz: “It has been said that some people have collected and kept debris from the demolished Kultuurkaffee, the way people did with pieces of the Berlin Wall.”
Culture against hatred
Wim De Pauw of the Culture Department placed the unveiling of the memorial plaque under the sign of hope. After the recent events in Orlando and everything that happened in our country, in France and elsewhere around the world, “we must hope that culture can offer an answer to the hatred that we see all around us.”
The exuberant brass band music of Die Verdammte Spielerei helped to forget the pouring rain.