Facts and background

In January 2016, Forskningsfondens Ejendomsselskab A/S (FEAS) purchased the hospital buildings on Nørrebrogade and leased them to AU. The preparations for AU’s move to the buildings will begin in 2019. The expansion is part of a vision for developing and strengthening the campus in Aarhus as an attractive and future-oriented research and study environment.

FEAS is a subsidiary of the Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF), which has supported the university’s gradual development of its campus in Aarhus since the company’s establishment in 1987. With FEAS’s purchase of these buildings, Aarhus University has been given the opportunity to create a new and more modern campus which, combined with the existing campus, can take the overall area to new heights.

In addition to the university purposes, the ambition is to create a campus that integrates urban life, shops, businesses, housing and institutions and establishes links with the surrounding neighborhoods, Katrinebjerg and Trøjborg as well as downtown Aarhus and Aarhus Docklands.A future-proof, city-integrated campus with student life and round-the-clock activities.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions (Q&A) below and read more about the process here:

Q&A

What is the process going forward?

In 2019, Forskningsfondens Ejendomsselskab A/S (FEAS) will take over the property on Nørrebrogade, and the preparations for AU’s move to the buildings will begin.

In the period until 2019, an internal process of planning how the property is to be used and how the moves are to proceed will take place in close dialogue with the faculties involved.

Parallel task: In addition, FEAS was running a process in autumn 2016 which will result in a local development plan for the area. The local development plan, which is a prerequisite for the validity of the sales agreement, lays down the framework for what and how much may be placed in the areas.

The process which is to result in the local development plan entailed that a ‘parallel task’ was performed, with three architectural firms each preparing a proposal for the future design and use of the area. The winning proposal will now be further processed into a development plan, which will form the basis for the local development plan. Read more about the winning proposal.

The development plan and the subsequent local development plan do not lay down the final use of the area for various university purposes, as the local development plan is binding only in respect of the location of housing on the site. The local development plan will lay down the location of and principles for access to roads and paths internally on the site, including requirements regarding parking and open spaces, location and scope as well as overall architectural requirements in respect of new buildings and the scope of housing on the site. In addition, the local development plan specifies buildings worthy of preservation which must not be demolished.

Idea generation: Concurrently with the parallel task, the university launched an idea generation process, where input for the future use of the buildings and the areas was gathered from students, staff and external players via, among other things, two workshops. The result of this process will be part of the input for the further development of the hospital area in connection with the rest of the campus.  

Why was AU launching this idea generation process? What did AU want to achieve?

Aarhus University wants to create an exciting and future-proof campus that students, employees, people living in the city and the business community can use and want to be a part of. To ensure that the campus develops in line with the users’ needs and wishes, it is crucial that the university listens to all stakeholders’ – internal as well as external – ideas and proposals for good solutions.

What will AU do with the ideas?

The various ideas will serve as input for a development plan, which forms the basis of a local development plan for the area. The ideas will also form part of the further internal process at the university. 

When will AU start moving in?

The renovations are expected to commence in 2019. Relocation will take place in 2020 at the earliest, as the renovation of the buildings will take time, in addition to the fact that the tempo of the process must be synchronised with the relocation of the hospital’s activities to Skejby.

The pace of the moves will depend on an assessment of the extent to which they make academic and financial sense for the academic environments, and will be planned in collaboration with the faculties involved. The moves will take place in stages. The university will not pay rent until we move in.

Does AU really need the extra buildings on Nørrebrogade – in light of both the degree programme resizing and the cost reductions?

The lease agreement with FEAS will allow AU to move in in stages as the university’s need for more space develops. This provides a degree of flexibility that is absolutely decisive in a context shaped by frequent policy changes, as well as ensuring that AU does not take over more square meters than it needs. The university will be able to ‘grow into’ the area in an organic way in step with changes in its requirements.

The relocation to the hospital buildings offers a unique opportunity to create a new and more modern campus which, combined with the existing and more classic university campus, enables the university to create a fantastic study environment. This is an excellent opportunity to centralise AU’s activities and create an urban campus. The move will also set off a major relocation process with several academic environments being concentrated around the University Park and the hospital buildings.

The takeover of the buildings should also be viewed in the context of the university’s future interests, for example the desire for increased collaboration with business and industry and the need for more facilities for research and innovation.

What is the university’s vision for the campus of the future?

The vision is to strengthen and centralise a number of the university’s research activities and create a future-proof and city-integrated campus with student life and activities 24/7.

In addition to the university purposes, the vision is also for halls of residence, urban life, science park and related businesses to go hand in hand with student life and round-the-clock activities. We want to create a campus which is also connected to the surrounding neighborhoods, Trøjborg, Katrinebjerg, downtown Aarhus and Aarhus Docklands.

Why is AUH Nørrebrogade an important area for Aarhus University?

The location of AUH Nørrebrogade as the closest neighbour of both the University Park and the Nobel Park gives AU a unique opportunity to expand the campus around the University Park and the city as well as creating a centrally-located campus of an international standard not many other universities in the world can match.

The facilities in the area hold great potential for the creation of a diverse and dynamic area with research and study environment, housing and urban life with respect for the individual buildings and the history of the area.

What is FEAS?

FEAS is an abbreviation for Forskningsfondens Ejendomsselskab A/S (the research foundation’s property company), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF). AUFF has an endowment of DKK 4.5 billion, and the purpose of the foundation is to support research at the university and the development of the university’s physical framework.

FEAS has become a dynamic tool in AU’s development planning, and over a number of years, the company has acquired strategically situated properties to enable AU’s gradual expansion. Today, FEAS has a property portfolio of approx. 115,000 sq m, including the Nobel Park buildings and numerous buildings in the Katrinebjerg district, which are leased by AU.

Why was the property purchased by FEAS instead of the Danish Building and Property Agency?

The Danish Building and Property Agency is one of the university’s two strategic partners in relation to physical expansion, and the agency will continue to make a major contribution to ensuring that the university has the facilities necessary to support its activities. The other partner is FEAS, which since its establishment in 1987 has contributed to planned expansions of Aarhus Campus, for example in the Katrinebjerg district and in the Nobel Park.

A particular challenge in taking over a large property such as AUH Nørrebrogade consists in handling empty buildings in connection with renovations and moving in. Unlike FEAS, the Danish Building and Property Agency works within the framework of the so-called SEA scheme, under which AU would be obliged to take over and pay rent for the entire property from day one, regardless of whether or not the buildings can be taken into use for AU’s primary activities at that time. FEAS is able to operate on more commercial terms, which gives the company the option of using the unused buildings for other purposes in the interim while at the same time making sure that the area is developed in close collaboration with AU and in line with AU’s growth.

What was the purchase price and how was the price set?

The negotiated purchase price is DKK 807,500,000 and was reached through negotiation between FEAS and Central Denmark Region. Central Denmark Region had the price checked by an independent estate agent which has confirmed that the purchase price is in line with market prices.

Will the purchase divert funds from research?

No, on the contrary. Among other tings, the profits from the sale of Auriga have provided the Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF) with an opportunity to make an investment of this kind, for the benefit of the university’s continued development. The purchase of AUH Nørrebrogade is part of this investment. The profits generated by leasing out the buildings in the area will be transferred to the research fund, and thus to research activities. This is the case for all buildings owned by FEAS.

Why is AU not purchasing the buildings?

AU does not have the right to self-governance.

How will the property be used?

The property will both make possible the renovation of existing research and teaching facilities as well as the addition of new research facilities that can take the university’s research to the next level. Another possibility on the drawing board is the establishment of student and researcher housing that will contribute to making the area more vibrant, including outside of normal working hours.

The property also opens up possibilities for expanded collaboration with both established and new businesses.

The renovation of the property will take place with respect for its existing architectural and historical-cultural qualities.  

How much will it cost AU?

The rent AU pays to FEAS must be proportionate to the space the university uses and in conformity with market property prices per square meter. The gradual takeover will mean that rent costs can be adjusted to reflect the university’s actual space requirements.