‘Scholen van Morgen’ [Schools of Tomorrow] in very final phase
Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts is to lay the foundation stone of Hasp-O Centrum in Sint-Truiden today. This is also the last construction site of the ‘Schools of Tomorrow’ programme. “We are laying the foundation stone of the very last one,” says Mr Weyts.”But our construction story does not end here. We are preparing for the future full speed ahead with a new wave of investments in school infrastructure.“
Launched in 2006, Schools of Tomorrow is a DBFM (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain) programme that creates new school buildings through a public-private partnership. In the past 7 years, under the leadership of AG Real Estate as programme and project manager, many stones have been laid for more school capacity: 182 projects, representing 250 school buildings with a total area of 710,000 m², provide accommodation for no less than 133,000 pupils. Eight schools are so-called passive schools. The school infrastructure is also opened up to the maximum extent outside of class hours for the local community, such as youth, cultural and sports associations.
The ‘Schools of Tomorrow’ are spread throughout Flanders: 52 in the Province of Antwerp, 41 in West Flanders, 38 in East Flanders, 29 in Flemish Brabant, 20 in Limburg and finally 2 building projects in the Brussels-Capital Region.
Today we are laying the foundation stone for a brand-new campus in Sint-Truiden, the last site in a long series of ‘Schools of Tomorrow’. This is a new building with classrooms, workshops, a sports hall, a canteen and administrative premises: an investment of €38 million in a 18,000 m² campus for the former KCST – Technicum [Sint Truiden Catholic Schools Centre – Institute of Technology]. It is slated to be completed in 2023. 173 schools (95%) are already in use by thousands of students. The remaining 9 school projects are still under construction. As the ‘Schools of Tomorrow’ story comes to a close, the next large-scale public-private partnership is already in the works: ‘Schools of Flanders’, another DBFM programme, worth €1 billion to erect new school buildings.
“We continue to work on the quality of our education,” says Weyts. “A comfortable and contemporary school infrastructure provides an answer to the capacity needs that our education system is facing. Every student deserves a quality place in a spacious and beautiful school.”
The chairman of Hasp-O Centrum, Alfred Stijnen, is looking forward to the move to the new site on the Fabrieksstraat. “This will enable us to offer all young people from Sint-Truiden and the surrounding area a range of diverse programmes of study on one and the same campus, under 3 disciplines: Economy & Organization, STEM, and Language & Culture. Something for everyone! The location near the station is also an advantage, as our site is easily accessible by public transport. The new buildings, with their ultra-modern classrooms, science labs and workshops in a green setting, will make every student and teacher feel right at home from the word go. With this foundation stone, we are taking the first step in a new story, where we can teach our students all the skills and knowledge even better so as to prepare them for our ever-changing society.”
AG Real Estate, trusted partner of the public authorities
AG Real Estate, a partner of the Hasp-O Centrum project, is the real estate subsidiary of AG Insurance and the real estate advisor to Ageas. As the contracting authority’s representative, AG Real Estate is responsible for the operational implementation of the ‘Schools of Tomorrow’ programme. The contracting authority’s representative organizes the entire design, construction and maintenance process for each individual school over a period of 30 years. To that end, we call on 63 teams of architects and more than 20 contractors among others.
As the programme draws to a close, Philippe Monserez, Chief Design & Build Officer, looks back with satisfaction: “My team and I can look back with pride at this final laying of the foundation stone and the unique and challenging journey that we have made together with our many partners over the past few years. This latest project marks the conclusion of a programme of over 182 unique projects, tailor-made for schools, each with their own particular features, from secondary education to vocational training, in which we had to bring all our expertise to bear and listen actively to the client. I am convinced that we will bring the same experience, drive and professional project approach to the ‘Schools of Flanders’.“
Serge Fautré, Chief Executive Officer, confirmed: “On behalf of its shareholders AG and Ageas, AG Real Estate reiterates its commitment to be a reliable long-term partner for the public authorities. Our various achievements attest that we are capable of providing expertise and financial stability to meet today’s public interest challenges. Sustainability and social responsibility are central to our future developments.”