December 2014 marked the official start of renovations of the former Sphinx HQ in Maastricht. This will become the new home of UNU-MERIT from autumn 2015. At a landmark event, Director Bart Verspagen and City Councillor Gerdo van Grootheest symbolically demolished a wall to initiate the works.
Vacant for over a decade, the former Sphinx headquarters on Boschstraat 24 will soon become UNU-MERIT’s new base of operations. The renovation is due to be finished in summer 2015, allowing staff and students to move in ahead of the new academic year.
Speaking at the event, Director Bart Verspagen drew a link between the industrial revolution in Western Europe and recent changes in the developing world: “UNU-MERIT has been present in Maastricht for 25 years, studying economic development and the role of innovation in it. The Boschstraat district is a part of Maastricht where in the last 150 years industrialisation, innovation and economic development led to the creation of many jobs.
“Now that this part of the city is being redeveloped, UNU-MERIT would like to be part of it, to highlight the link between the historical economic development of Maastricht and similar processes that are now underway in the emerging economies of the world.”
For his part, Maastricht City Councillor Gerdo van Grootheest, whose brief covers urban development and planning, said: “It’s great that this prominent building on Boschstraat, after being vacant for years, has found a new purpose. This part of Boschstraat around the former Sphinx factories is set to undergo a metamorphosis in the coming year.
“The arrival of UNU-MERIT, the construction of the new Pathé cinema, the relocation of Lumière cinema and next year the renovation of the Timmerfabriek, plus the restoration of the Eiffel building, all show that the Sphinx district is in the process of a complete change and rediscovery.”
Just 500 metres from the Market Square, the new Belvédère district will cover more than 125 hectares (equal to around 200 football pitches), extending from the city centre to the Belgian border. The former premises of the historic Sphinx Sanitair company will become the beating heart of Belvédère, split into the following sites:
- Sphinx Sanitair head office: This will be the new location of UNU-MERIT, a renowned research and training centre of United Nations University (UNU) and Maastricht University (UM). It is set to open in autumn 2015.
- Eiffel Building: A declaration of intent has been concluded with The Student Hotel. If all goes to plan, two-thirds of the building will be taken up by furnished rooms for foreign students. A total of 300 rooms will cover residences, workplaces, catering establishments and retail businesses.
- Timmerfabriek: This part already houses the Muziekgieterij (music venue). Owing to its success, a hall for 1,000 visitors will be added in the course of 2015. Together with the smaller hall that accommodates approximately 500 visitors, a fully-fledged music venue will be created for the city. Additionally, a new expo will be created in the Timmerfabriek while Bureau Europa will continue to be housed in the building.
- Timmerfabriek/Ketelhuis: This will be the new location for the Lumière Cinema, with six film theatres for arthouse films, a bar, restaurant and terrace. Opening late 2015.
- Adjacent to the Eiffel building: New Pathé cinema, featuring eight modern film theatres for the latest films and filmed concerts. Opening autumn 2015.
- ‘Mouleurs/De Belgen’: The occupancy of this oldest section of the former Sphinx factories is currently being considered by Loods 5, a modern residential furnishings store.
- Former utility services site: Some 250 residences and apartments have been or will be built here in the foreseeable future.
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