Professor Philip de Goey, Dean of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is pleased with the University Council's favorable opinion. In early 2015 he was greatly frustrated when it was announced that the renovation due to start in 2018 had been delayed by three years. Had this project gone ahead then, the accommodation ratio of 14 percent could not have been sustained. Now, a modest start could be made as early as 2019 by embarking on the renovation of the Zero Emission Lab in Gemini Noord. But only in 2021 will the builders really start in earnest, working on through to the end of 2025.
The 24-page document in which the renovation is described makes clear at the outset why this work is so necessary. In a nutshell, after forty years of intensive use, the building, which occupies some 33,668 square meters, is pretty much worn out and is described as ‘dated’. The user comfort provided is poor, with contributing factors being the low temperatures, unpleasant odors and too few toilets. In addition, the systems have all long exceeded their service life, ‘so that the safety and continuity of the research cannot be guaranteed’, as stated in the document.
De Goey can only confirm this status. “It's not just the systems, it's also other aspects like the glazing and air conditioning. All that needs modernizing too.” According to those who conceived the plan, Gemini must be rebuilt to create ‘a lively and inspiring place where people learn, cooperate, meet, discover and experience’. In terms of size, however, the building will remain the same. Nor would it be possible to add another structure to the site where the building stands. The flexible use of rooms will be a key aspect of the renovation.
Various laboratories will be housed here, also available for use by Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. The renovation also offers scope to connect Gemini to the system providing thermal energy storage, from which almost all TU/e buildings are now plucking the energy-saving fruits.
2021 will see a start made on the stripping of the building, a process also carried out in the Main building and which is expected to involve the removal of asbestos. Following this, new facades will be built and systems installed, and not for the first time TU/e aims to achieve the BREEAM Excellent status, whereby new builds and renovation projects are assessed for their sustainability. Atlas has already been awarded just such a status.
The project will be carried out in phases, in order to safeguard the continuity of the research. It is proposed that first Gemini Noord be taken in hand and once that work has been completed, to proceed to the renovation of Gemini Zuid.
In 2015 the costs of the renovation were estimated at 40 million, but they have since risen to 100 million. Of this 2015 figure, De Goey says: “At the time that was only ever an estimate, but you can rest assured that no money will be wasted. Careful thought has gone into deciding what will and will not be renovated and how the work will be done.”
Veronique Marks, Director of Real Estate Management, adds that currently for projects of this type all costs are accounted for immediately: "So that includes the removal of asbestos, furnishing the labs, the fixtures and fittings, meaning such items as all the furniture, the necessary costs incurred for temporary accommodation, the ICT infrastructure and the audiovisual resources, moving costs and all consultancy fees. And don't forget: the VAT. In the past, cost items like these were not included."
In the decision to tender it is also stated that the contract for Gemini will be awarded in unfavorable market conditions: ‘Prices are at a high level, but we may expect market parties to be keen to carry out this project: TU/e has a good name when it comes to the continuity of construction assignments.’ In view of the market conditions, the University Council's financial committee has insisted on the solid risk management of the costs. Executive Board member Van Ham said Monday that the risks have been well charted by the consultancy firm Twijnstra Gudde and that they will monitored continuously.