Universiteit Leiden

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Development of Humanities Campus

In fifteen years, the Witte Singel-Doelencomplex (WSD-complex) will be transformed step by step into the new Humanities Campus: a new meeting place for teachers, researchers, students and guests.

Future-proof education and attractive workspaces in a green, sustainable environment

In the years ahead, Leiden University will be investing in the redevelopment of the Witte Singel-Doelen complex, which houses the Faculty of Humanities and the affiliated institutes. Our ambition is to develop a sustainable Humanities Campus, based on the principles of community feeling, an attractive study and work environment, and state-of-the-art facilities. Other key aspects include greening of the public space and linking up with the Singelpark route. There will be a central square, where students, staff and Leiden’s visitors and residents can meet and interact. 

Cluster Zuid is currently under construction. Take a look at how the new building will look below.

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The area will undergo major changes in several phases until 2030, while teaching and learning continue as normal. An individual approach will be taken to each of the existing education buildings. In some cases, the building will simply be refurbished, while in others there will be more extensive renovation. 

The first two subprojects have now been completed. The 
P.J. Veth Building, adjacent to the Hortus Botanicus, was reopened in 2017, following a large-scale internal refurbishment. The second subproject, the internal renovation of the historic Arsenaal, was completed in 2020. 

In August 2021 it became apparent that the original plan for the Doelen side of the complex (a new Lipsius Building) could not go ahead. The Faculty is currently looking at alternative plans for this part of the Humanities Campus.

The next phase of the renovation is the South Cluster subproject, which is going ahead according to the original plan. The aim is to have completed the entire Humanities Campus project in 2030. 

The University’s aim in developing the new Humanities Campus, closely linked with the University Library and its important collections, is to guarantee the quality of education and research for students and scholars. The Campus will be an area where not only students and staff, but also Leiden’s visitors and residents, can enjoy spending time: a pleasant, green space with sustainable buildings offering attractive work and study spaces, and various facilities that are open to the public, including a literary café and a restaurant.

During the construction work, teaching and research will continue as normal.

Activity-based workspaces

Activity-based workspaces (ABW) are needed because many workspaces in our buildings could be used more smartly and efficiently. Rooms are left locked, and staff members are out for protracted periods doing research or giving lectures. More efficient use of workspaces improves sustainability and also provides a solution for the growing number of staff.

Leiden University’s Real Estate directorate is therefore working on ways to redesign the current spaces. This process is taking place step by step: new layouts are being introduced in the various Leiden University buildings at different times.

The ideas of ABW were incorporated in the plans for the Humanities Campus from the outset. The ABW pilots in e.g. the Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences and Leiden Law School give us an opportunity to see which elements of ABW could work in our Faculty, and which would not. We will therefore be organising guided tours of these faculties on a regular basis in 2022.

You can read more about activity-based workspaces in the University here. (Dutch only)

Humanities Campus Think Tank

The decision was made in September 2021 not to proceed with acquiring the Doelen housing complex, after the residents stated that they did not want to move. The Executive Board then decided that the new workspace norm from 2016 should also be incorporated in the plans for the Humanities Campus. An alternative plan therefore needs to be produced for the Humanities Campus, with fewer available square metres of work environment. One consequence is that tougher choices will have to be made in order to achieve a good work environment. 

The Faculty community gave a reserved response to these developments, and would like to participate in discussion and reflection on how the Humanities Campus plan should be revised. We therefore decided to set up a Think Tank, comprising staff members of the Faculty of Humanities. 

The participants come from several different institutes/administrative departments. They contribute their knowledge of the current and desired work situation in their own institute/department, speak on behalf of their colleagues in the institute/department and give feedback to their institute/department about the work environment. This yields a great deal of input and a clear picture of the workspaces that staff want, and what can be provided. The participants devise both practical, concrete solutions and more policy-related solutions for the layout of spaces in the institute/department. 

  • The alternative Humanities Campus will be designed according to the new workspace norm. Individual offices with bookcases and space for discussions with students will still be possible. There will be one-person and multi-person offices with fixed or flexible workspaces, and large and small meeting spaces. Each institute will have its own preferences in this respect and these will be taken into account, within the limits of available space and budget. The aim is, in any case, that permanent staff members will have their own designated workspace.

  • Attendance-based teaching (face-to-face) will continue to form the basis of our study programmes. We also want to have facilities that enable high-quality support of online teaching. 

  • Regular attendance of the staff in our buildings will continue to be the norm. Individual preferences and rhythms vary greatly, but institutes – education and research – exist only by the grace of staff members’ presence. However, it can be expected that more colleagues will want to work from home more often, supported by the policy on working from home. 

  • Investments will be made in both workspaces and communal areas. Interacting with colleagues is a core function of university buildings, but there is also a need for quiet workplaces and meeting spaces. When we know how many square metres will be allocated to an institute, and a design is available for the new buildings, a discussion can commence in each institute about the best layout for the available square metres. The institutes will ultimately be responsible for how staff members are actually assigned to specific workplaces.

  • The development of the alternative Humanities Campus will take place on the basis of the vision for the Humanities Campus and within the financial frameworks and architectural possibilities.

To ensure greater involvement and ownership, each institute is represented in the Think Tank by two staff members. Administrative and support staff (OBP) are represented by colleagues from Information Management & Facilities (IFZ) and HRM.

The Chair of the Faculty Council, Jan Sleutels, will occasionally participate in the meetings to observe the process. The Faculty Council will in any case be informed regularly about the general project developments and the results from the Think Tank. Other Faculty Council members are naturally also welcome to participate in the meetings or the guided tours of other faculties.

For wider involvement, we have also asked requested the participation of a member of the University Council.

Members of the Think Tank

Edurne de Wilde


Diederik Smit


Jurgen Lingen




Jenneke van der Wal



Jed Wentz




Rosalien van der Poel



Bert van den Berg



Nick Tomberge



Marjana Rhebergen



Tim Meijers



Rozemund Uljee


Caroline Waerzeggers


Elena Paskaleva


Else Speelman / Jeanine Kientz


Karin van der Zeeuw


Remco Breuker


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