The ground floor of the Hatta Building was officially opened for use on 20 February with a live radio broadcast, the unveiling of a plaque and a news bulletin featuring Executive Board member Bart Straatman.

The building, named after Mohammed Hatta (see inset), houses 372 student flats – 36 studios for Dutch students on the top floor, as well as 336 rooms for international students on the lower floors. The ground floor features a café called In de Smitse, the Gio Foundation and the Erasmus Sustainability Hub.

Listen here to Hello Hatta!, a radio broadcast recorded during the opening ceremony of the Hatta Building

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According to Dorota de Blanken of the Student Housing Foundation (SSH), the student flats inside the Hatta Building will help turn the campus into a bit more of a “small and cosy village”. “Students like having a lively campus, and they like that the place does not feel deserted after 7pm. In addition, they appreciate the proximity of the university’s buildings and they feel safe on campus.”

Regaining popularity

The plinth of the Hatta Building houses the workspaces of the Gio Foundation (an initiative by Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst to create more opportunities for learning disabled adolescents from Zuid), the physiotherapist Dimitri Motz (who will be celebrating his twentieth anniversary on campus soon) and the Erasmus Sustainability Hub, where everyone is welcome to enjoy a cup of (free) sustainably grown tea in exchange for ideas on how to make the campus more sustainable.

A bit further down, health-and-safety doctors and a university welfare worker have their offices, while at the front, the campus pub, called In de Smitse [In the Smithy], is seeking to re-gain the popularity it held back when it was at the Mandeville Building. If first impressions are anything to go by, they are doing well.

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The life of Mohammed Hatta

As for the building itself, this was named after Mohammed Hatta, an EUR alumnus born in Sumatra in 1902. Hatta was a student at the Rotterdam School of Commerce, Erasmus University’s predecessor, between 1921 and 1932. He is best known for his fight for the independence of the country then known as the Dutch Indies. It was a successful fight, because despite periods of incarceration and deportation, both in the Netherlands and in what is now called Indonesia, Hatta and fellow rebel Sukarno (the first president of the republic) managed to get the nationalists to join forces.

On 17 August 1945, soon after the invasion by the Japanese, Indonesia was declared independent. Sukarno became the President of the new republic, while Hatta became its Vice-President. It would take another four years – which featured a great deal of bloodshed and violence – before Indonesia’s colonial ties with the Netherlands were officially severed. On behalf of his government, Hatta travelled to Amsterdam, where sovereignty over Indonesia was transferred in the Palace at Dam Square on 27 December 1949. Queen Juliana signed the document on behalf of the Netherlands, while Mohammed Hatta, the former economics student from Rotterdam, signed the document on behalf of his native country.

Listen to the story of Mohammed Hatta’s life