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Students forced to live on building site

Dormitory residence has exchange students living among builders, with little lighting, doing the dishes in the bathroom sink

She arrived with ambition and expectations. Marta Rosquelles was promised a clean room in a new apartment complex, equipped with kitchen and all other comforts. But when she arrived her home was something more like a building site.

”We were promised a restaurant, a gym and a common room. But we barely even have our own bed!” says Marta, an exchange student from Spain, in Copenhagen to take her masters degree.

After signing up on the Housing Foundation website she was assigned a room at the new CPH Studio Hotel on Krimsvej in Copenhagen. It was requested she pay ahead for her whole stay and she could then live comfortably with the studio’s many facilities. But the DKK 4,000 a month that Marta has paid have so far only given her access to what – to all intents and purposes – is a construction area.

“High quality and functionality”

The stairways lack lighting, and so do many of the rooms. Instead of built-in hot plates and a sink for the kitchen, the students must cook with a small portable plate and do the dishes in the tiny bathroom sink.

Making the best of the kitchen. Photo: Anna Sondergaard

The shower has no compartment yet, and so the whole floor is covered in water after a bath. Their suitcases are still unpacked and there are no closets and no storage for their things, and to get access to the wi-fi, they must sit in the dirty hallways to find a weak signal.

The bathroom. Photo: Anna Sondergaard

Late in the evening, construction workers are running around the hallways, working to get the accommodation up to standard. But heating has still not been installed and there are openings to the building, making the nights cold. So far, there seems to be no sight of the common areas that the Housing Foundation predicted would be finished in September.

Workers at 8.30 p.m. Photo: Anna Sondergaard

Paying students becoming homeless

Marta’s bed option is right under the ceiling, requiring her to climb up a wobbly and loose ladder and crawling in to get to her mattress.

Marta’s room from above. Photo: Anna Sondergaard

”But at least I have a bed,” Marta says, ”many students have been relocated because of the construction and are now homeless again – even if they paid!” These students have been offered, and been forced to accept, a squeeze into a single room with 2-3 other people, all cooking, sleeping and showering in rooms of 10-16 square metres.

The students have to change rooms on request for the two coming months due to the construction.

Offered compensation

Those that protest have been offered compensation in the form of two months rent, but their daily life is still a mess, their “common room” will still be the concrete-smelling hallway and their “gym” is the navigating around various construction tools in the dusty staircases.

”I came to Copenhagen with many ambitions, but this whole experience has been a huge disappointment,” Marta explains, “but at least I am not alone. We are many young ambitious students that have been put in the same boat.”

It is the Housing Foundation, an independent foundation established by the University of Copenhagen that leases to international students on Krimsvej. Head of the Housing Foundation Charlotte Simonsen regrets that the owner of the Dormitory buildings have not kept up to the agreeement that students could move in 1 September.

UCPH Housing: Students no longer moved

“We have been unlucky,” Charlotte Simonsen says and explains that the Foundation only just found out before the date which students moved in 1 September that the building would not be ready for residence, as the owner had promised.

“We are fighting and we have given the students two months of free rent as compensation for their difficulties,” she says.

Charlotte Simonsen says that only two of the building’s three floors were ready when the foundation took over the building, and that the third floor was approved for residence already on 2 September. She says that the third floor at the moment has been halfway taken into use, and that the rest will be ready to be moved into in the coming days.

“The students will no longer be moved between rooms, but that there will be a period of time, where craftsmen will be working in their rooms,” she says.

Fitness not yet

On the University of Copenhagen Housing Foundation’s homepage potential student tenants are told that they get rooms that are ‘fully furnished with the best of Scandinavian Design’. The dorm has “fitness equipment similar to that of the CrossFit world” and a restaurant.

The fitness room and restaurant are not finished yet, but Charlotte Simonsen says that the restaurant is expected ready in October.

universitypost@adm.ku.dk

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