Work has begun on the historic building that will be used as part of the Academie van Franeker
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported in the Omrop Fryslân, the historic Botniastins building will be turned into the new Academie Franeker. The Academie is in the process of being set up by the Campus Fryslân and the University of Groningen, along with the Protestant Community of Franeker and the owner of the building, the Stichting Beheer Diaconale Goederen Franeker.
Building has already started, and the Botniastins will eventually contain a lecture hall, library, and a number of flexibe work rooms. The idea for a revived Academie van Franeker began in 2017, and it is hoped that the new Academy Building will be open in January 2020.
It has only been since receiving an EU subsidy that the building work can take place. The Botniastins will be somewhat of a flexible building once done, and will include a work room for freelancers and other professionals, says treasurer and member of the steering committee Anne Bergsma.
There will also be space for a meeting room for ‘fellows’, who will be drawn from various institutes and will meet to brainstorm solutions to over-arching problems. “They could, for example, consider the silt-problem [in the Wadden Sea]”, says Bergsma. “We want them to help the region together, and advance it through science.” Essentially a modern version of the Platonic Academy, but in Franeker.
Above this ‘fellows room’, there will be the lecture hall, with space for around 50 students. The banks in this room will be taken from the Catholic Church in Witmarsum, which will surely excite all students that have to attend lectures there.
The original University of Franeker was the second oldest in the Netherlands, having been founded in 1585. Bergsma explains: “it lasted until 1811. It went along with huge ‘ups’ and then naturally also with ‘downs’. After the university, the building was used as an ‘atheneum’ school until 1845.”
In the years following, the Botniastins building had another function: it found service as an orphanage. With its transformation into a new Academy Building, the 500-year old building is returning to its original ordination.
Image via Academie van Franeker