In 2006, the royal couple officially opened Svalbard Forskningspark. Now The University Centre in Svalbard and the other users say they have too little space.
"We are lacking office, lab and logistics facilities, and they are beginning to move us into containers," said Fred Skancke Hansen. "We want to continue the development of student housing at Sjøskrenten and get rid of Nybyen in the long term."
He's the Health, Environment and Safety manager and infrastructure director at UNIS, pulling the strings to establish a new phase at the research park.
No student offices
Hansen has an office on the third floor of the research park. Pedestrian areas there have been converted to make room for storage.
"There's computer equipment in here," said Hansen, knocking on the sloping ceiling. "In the future it may be the penthouse office."
He continues through the corridor, pointing to offices that were previously reading room for students.
"Now we don't have study places left for regular students," he said.
Offices, mostly doubles or quadruples, are used by employees and doctoral students on fellowships.
"We have a few left for guest speakers," Hansen said. "We have at least 180 of those a year."
He enters one of the offices and points towards the new dorm built at Sjøskrenten.
"I hope we get a physical connection to the student residences, maybe underground.," Hansen said. "When the need for reading places here has diminished."
Svalbard Museum Director Tora Hultgreen said last year they also want to expand.
"We want an exhibition area, a lab and storage for natural history material," she told Svalbardposten at the time. "We want, among other things, to store and display the research of Jørn Hurum."
There have also been suggestions that Kunsthall Svalbard, a branch of the Northern Norwegian Art Museum that is receiving startup funding in next year's proposed state budget, wants space in a new building phase.
Part of Longyearbyen
The first thing to do is to make a functional analysis of the building, to see how it is possible to utilize it better.
"I think that it is utilized as well as it is possible, but we want to establish that," Hansen said.
Furthermore, they want Statsbygg to guide the work of the so-called campus development plan and users of the park to provide input. The plan will describe the future development of the research park in Longyearbyen.
"The goal is to not see the research park isolated, but as a part of Longyearbyen and all the activity that takes place here," Hansen said. "We must take into account other plans such as the harbor plan, strategic business plan, and Longyearbyen Community Council and other research institutions."
Finished plan next year
UNIS and Svalbard Museum have already met with Statsbygg officials.
"The Norwegian Polar Institute, The Arctic Student Welfare Organization of Norway, Longyearbyen Community Council, Store Norske and others vil be invited to sit in the project group," Hansen said.
The plan should be ready by June of next year.
"We will then work simultaneously on what the new buildings might look like," he said.
"That will take time, but if the opportunity suddenly pops up we will have our plans then."
Hansen said users will want a process similar to that of the research park.
"Then you need Statsbygg to make a political decision, and the Ministry of Education and research must guarantee the rental income," he said. "There must be political will, but if we get that it can go quickly."
Public construction leader
Bente Næverdal, property manager for Statsbygg, said the public construction agency will help guide the work and it is now in the process of creating a detailed project description.
"Then we must coordinate this with the land-use planning process that will take place in Longyearbyen so it goes in the same direction," she said.