Has the TU Delft campus turned into a ghost town?

Friday 13 March is the first day that TU Delft students are unable to attend lectures and exams on campus. What does that look like?

(Photos: Marjolein van der Veldt)

The Delta office is located in the TU Delft Library. It is empty today and quiet today without studying students in the main hall or lectures in the rooms around it. The Coffee Star is still open. “But that could change at any moment”, the barista on duty tells us. She’s right, around noon this location closed its doors.


Although the campus seems deserted, that’s not entirely true. The buses run according to schedule and there are plenty of students who still try to enter the closed buildings. “This morning I had about fifty students at the door,” says a Library security officer.


So where do these students go then? We cross the Mekelweg towards the Faculty of 3mE. Despite the fact that the TU announced that all physical education has been suspended until 1 April, there’s still a notable buzz of students. 


In the large building it is easy to disappear, although not all rooms are accessible. The students we find are often working in small groups at project tables.


At the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science things are significantly quieter. The ‘biggest gathering’ takes place at the mobile coffee bar.


Via the closed sports centre X we walk towards the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. The normally overcrowded bicycle racks show a lot of empty slots today.


Because we see a lot of pictures of empty supermarket shelves on social media, we decide to walk in the direction of Spar University. Compared to the situation in other areas of Delft, this supermarket seems like an oasis. Full shelves and no queue in front of the cash register. Is it a mirage perhaps? 


It takes until  the Faculty of Applied Physics to see what the effect the new measures really is. We walk through empty corridors and encounter only empty classrooms.


Because the Pulse educational building is closed, we expect some hustle and bustle at the adjacent Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. But, except for a few students and staff, it’s not too busy. The restaurant is open though.


At the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment we see a similar situation. An almost empty modelling hall gives us a weird feeling. Here, too, a single student continues stubbornly and the restaurant still serves some warm snacks.


How different it is when we reach the Aula around lunchtime. Lunch is still possible , although the product range is limited. “Keep in mind that next Monday things could be different,” a member of the Cirfood staff warns us. As we notice TU Delft employees monitoring the flow of visitors at both entrances and exits, we realise things are different already . From now on, only a maximum of a hundred people are allowed at the restaurant.


After our meal we walk upstairs, because at 12:30 PM a PhD ceremony is planned to take place. Lisanne Douma (CEG) will obtain her PhD on ‘The elastic anisotropy and mechanical behaviour of the Whitby Mudstone’. Just a regular day in the office one might say.


Once outside we can see that the sun is shining and spring is looming. We almost forgot. Luckily Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen didn’t (Dutch only).


Meanwhile, there are plenty of students who have found a temporary place to study, like applied physics student Violinde.


And what about the workplace of architecture student Aditya? What a view.


The TU Delft crisis team is currently working on further implementation of the announced measures. For each Faculty, they are looking at what actions are needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We will try to keep you informed via our liveblog.

  • For more information, consult the frequently asked questions on the TU Delft website. Is your question not listed? Please call the general TU telephone number 015 278 9111. If you have specific questions related to your work or study and the coronavirus, you can also contact your supervisor or the faculty secretary of your faculty. 
News editor Marjolein van der Veldt

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