Omnia: Where Science meets Society
On Wageningen Campus, between Bronland and Mansholtlaan, a new building was erected over the past year: the Wageningen Dialogue Centre During the opening of the Academic Year of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) on 6 September 2021, Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol announced its name: Omnia. After the opening on 1 May 2022, everyone is welcome to meet up and engage in a dialogue during academic events and other gatherings.
Manager Chris van Kreij talks about the function and background of Omnia:
“Omnia is meant to be the heart of Wageningen Campus and FoodValley: this is where it all happens. This is where internal and external experts meet each other. This means that we don’t host just any event, but focus on activities in the area of current WUR themes, the WUR domains. This requirement also applies to external users.”
“Omnia is the perfect name for the beautiful transparent building where everything comes together: the connection between WUR and society, in the form of dialogues with our partners and our academic ceremonies.” - Louise O. Fresco
Omnia will also house a high-quality restaurant. Agreements will be made with nearby hotels to offer guests a good place to stay overnight as well. A shuttle service will connect the campus and the hotel.
Chris says that the ceremonies that are now taking place in the Auditorium in the centre of Wageningen will be transferred to Omnia after the opening. He thinks that it is a great advantage for visitors to have the chance to combine their visit to Omnia with appointments with businesses, university, or facilities on campus.
He is responsible for the occupancy and positioning of the building so that Omnia and its activities contribute to the WUR and FoodValley objectives. Simone Ritzer is responsible for programming the Wageningen Dialogue that is periodically organised by WUR. A floor manager will run the daily activities with a team.
Impulse will continue serving its original purpose as well. The two facilities complement each other. The more informal setting of Impulse has its own value and place on Campus. There will be discussions to determine which location would be best for any particular activity.
“Omnia will profile itself on the basis of themes in the WUR domain.”
Welcome in green, glass, and wood
Chris takes us on a short tour. The entrance will be on the Bronland side. There will be a natural garden and pond outside the building which will be sustainably built and include a sedum-planted roof. The plentiful greenery and wood will give Omnia a natural appeal.
The reception desk will be on the first floor. Portraits of the Rectores Magnifici will be hung on the wooden walls, just like in the auditorium. This will create a link to WUR’s rich academic history.
If you turn around, then you will look out over the campus through one of the many windows, with the business buildings to the left, the education buildings in the middle, and research buildings on the right. This floor will also feature the Grote Zaal (large hall) and Promotie Zaal (PhD graduation hall), each with their own foyer. This will also be the location for the Faculty Club restaurant, with a special VIP reception room next door. Seven smaller break-out rooms will be located on a lower level (level zero).
Every Hall a Different Colour
In shades of yellow, the Auditorium will be suitable for symposia, courses, workshops, and lectures for up to nearly 300 people. The Promotie Zaal will have chairs in shades of red and a skylight in the ceiling, and it will be suitable for lectures, symposia, inaugural addresses, and PhD graduations for up to about 100 people. It will be possible to use the seven break-out rooms in different configurations. The maximum capacity of each room will be 30 people, and will therefore be suitable for online/hybrid events, training courses, meetings, and break-out sessions. It will be possible to join some of the rooms together.
"The Faculty Club: from student to Rector Magnificus, from drinks to dinner, from small groups to large gatherings"
The Faculty Club
The tastefully decorated Faculty Club restaurant and adjoining terrace will be located near the entrance. There are screens on the wall that can be used to project customised images. Chris van Kreij: “The Faculty Club will be a restaurant unlike any other on campus, with a menu and table service. You will be able to enjoy great food at reasonable prices; imagine something at the Bib Gourmand level.”
In practice this will mean good food for all: from student to Rector Magnificus, from drinks to dinner, from small groups to large gatherings. The kitchen at the Faculty Club will also provide buffets and drinks for the other rooms in Omnia.
There will be a charming space next to Faculty Club that is suitable for official occasions such as Executive Board receptions. It will offer room for groups of up to about 30 people.
"You share your insights during a dialogue. That is very important in and for academia."
First event in May 2022
Although a fresh wind still blows through the construction site, Chris hopes that the building will be airtight and watertight this autumn. The next step will be the roof with sedum planting. The building will be completed at the start of 2022. Chris: “At that point we will have two months to move in, place furniture, and get the kitchens ready for use and test them so that we can organise our first event in May 2022. The construction has proceeded according to plan so far, so I think this is a realistic expectation.”
Chris knows for sure that Omnia will be a beautiful and valuable addition to the Wageningen ecosystem. It is aimed at a diverse user group to which both WUR researchers and external parties are most welcome. It can be used for activities such as symposia, inaugurations, dialogues, and PhD defences, but also to attend activities organised by third parties.
“It’s already evident from the Dialogue Centre working title that the building is meant for the exchange of knowledge and viewpoints. In a good dialogue, you share insights and you understand each other’s viewpoints. That is very important in and for academia.”
Costs and reservations
The rooms with relevant facilities can be used per half-day, and the costs are comparable to other locations in the region. Anyone who is interested can already get in touch to discuss the options: “I can already book reservations for activities after 1 May 2022 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or you can have a look on the Omnia website.” (www.wur.nl/omnia)