Immovable heritage on the VUB Main Campus
The first stone of our VUB Main Campus was laid in the 1970s. It was the start of a story of continuous evolution: of building, rebuilding, renovating, and extending. The first buildings are in the brutalist style, with later structures being added in other styles. But what at first glance still appears to be a concrete jungle - although indeed, less and less so - also includes innovative new construction projects, architectural pearls, recognised monuments, and hidden treasures.
The Braem Building
The Braem Building is an undisputed landmark of the VUB Main Campus. Since its completion, it has always housed the rectorate. The building derives its current name from its designer: Renaat Braem, one of the most famous Belgian architects of the 20th century. His design embodies the VUB values of Free Thought, something that is noticeable from the large concrete canopy that marks the entrance. In it are etched the symbols of Freemasonry: a sun, a torch, a compass, a trowel. The Braem Building is currently undergoing renovation. Anyone who wants to can contribute with a donation.
Willy Van Der Meeren student accommodation
The residential blocks by architect Willy Van Der Meeren remain a paragon of modernist mass production. Like Renaat Braem, Willy Van De Meeren was one of the leading architects in the second half of the 20th century. His greatest concern was to create quality and affordable housing for the masses. The student residences on the VUB Main Campus are a perfect example: by means of a modular system, he erected 352 student residences in next to no time. Yet, the student accommodation complex retains a unique and personal touch, partly through the use of colour and an ingenious floor plan.
The two ice cellars on Waversesteenweg are 10 metres down, and each is 30 metres long. Before refrigerators were invented, the cellars - where the temperature is always constant - were used to store ice blocks. With the advent of modern refrigeration techniques they were closed and... forgotten. When VUB purchased the land in 1980 no one remembered their existence. But they were eventually rediscovered, and there are rumours that student initiations have even been held there. But the truth will never be known...
Humanist sculpture park
As well as a place for students to study and meet, the VUB Main Campus is an open-air museum. The humanist sculpture park has no fewer than 14 sculptures, the oldest dating from 1980. The collection of open-air sculptures continues to expand today thanks to the initiative and expertise of professor emeritus Willem Elias. Throughout his career at VUB, he has aimed to bring more art to the campus. Over the years, a university collection of sculptures with a humanist slant has been created.
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