The last stage of UGentPassage brings you to the University Forum, in short UFO. Since 2010, this striking building has become the jewel in the university’s architectural crown. The break with the utilitarian style of the 1960s and 1970s could not be more obvious.
Unlike before, the university has now become its own master builder and it can profile itself architecturally as well. For large construction projects, the University of Ghent organizes tenders, collaborating with prestigious architectural firms. The UFO was designed by Stéphane Beel and Xavier De Geyter, two of the most influential architects in Flanders and representatives of the New Simplicity. The centrepiece of the building is the spacious foyer that occupies the entire length of the building. Inside, the UFO is dominated by a large auditorium with a capacity for 1,000 people. Branches of the central services and the departments of History and Archaeology are located to the left and right of the auditorium.
The UFO is the centrepiece of a master plan for the St. Pietersnieuwstraat. The aim of this plan is to improve traffic circulation between the university buildings and to provide a feeling of space with a few new squares. After a long period of breaking away from the inner city, the 21st-century university looks onto the city centre again. It represents a turning point in ideology. University and City Council have deliberately opted for the university and students to be actively involved in city life, even though this requires a considered mobility policy, housing arrangements, and cultural and social engagements.