A renovation of PC. Hoofthuis does not fix its deeper issues

A renovation of PC. Hoofthuis does not fix its deeper issues

The PC Hoofthuis (PCH) campus has garnered infamy among local citizens, visitors, and students for being one of the least visually appealing buildings in Amsterdam over the years, and finally, the university has taken notice. However, it needs more than just a renovation.  

According to the draft of the 2022 budget, a portion will be allocated to the renovations of the infamous PC. Hoofthuis building. As of the time of writing, the floors of the building are already being worked on. Though the news may seem good, will a renovation really do the trick?

The structure has quite a historical background as its site is built on the same plot as the family home of Dutch historical figure PC Hooft, whom the current building is named after. The first iteration of the current building was built in 1874 for the Twentsche Bank. The design of the building was met with criticism due to its maze-like interior and rather a grim-looking exterior. The building is so infamously unattractive that it is currently listed as one of Amsterdam’s ugliest sites on the website Ugliest Places in the World.

In my first ever lecture at the University of Amsterdam, I was rather shocked. The building looked like a mental asylum! Not only did the outside look hideous, but the inside was even worse. The design is anything but practical: one cannot simply traverse the stairs to go to the library, the building demands one to take a detour to the very end of the building and traverse this specific set of stairs to get to said destination. PCH’s daily share of problems such as malfunctioning elevators, computers and students having a hard time figuring out the layout, is just unacceptable compared to UvA’s other campuses. Logistics issues arise when attempting to clean the upper floors or delivering food supplies to the cafeteria and vending machines. For an unknown reason, the computers and screens in the building’s classrooms do not seem to run smoothly either.

The news of recent budget allocations to renovate PCH gave me a brief sense of relief until I realised that the building itself has major structural flaws that cannot be remedied by some renovations. That a new library in the city centre is built, perplexed me, as I thought that the budget would be better used for an overhaul of PCH, whose students and staff are still suffering from technical difficulties, logistical problems and structural flaws. An overhaul of PCH would be necessary to fix these problems.

What I mean by overhaul is that the PCH needs its layout to be rearranged akin to a more standard building structure like the Bushuis campus. In my opinion, the main structural flaw would be the big and hollow stairway system in the middle of the PCH building largely contributes to wasted space, causing the building’s hallways to be cramped. Another issue would be the strange pathway that leads to the library, which confuses many new students. The wiring of the building must also be remodeled as classrooms often suffer from non-functioning screens and computers as well as elevators that seem to break down weekly.

A former Literary Studies student of the UvA, who has now fled to the UK, told me that studying in a dilapidated building made him feel as if his course was treated as a ‘joke’. I still have nightmares of working as a campus tour guide and having to show people the ugly duckling of our university. Having a new library is nice, but this problem can also be solved by improving upon an existing building. So please UvA, renovate PCH and give passionate Humanities students and staff a better place to study and work.

From, everyone.

NB: Since publication, we have been made aware of the renovation plans of PCH. As our writer does not speak Dutch, it did not come up in his desk research. This is the edited version. We have also been made aware that the new library will replace the old one, so we have omitted the paragraph about extra study spaces. 

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