Discover Benelux | Issue 11 | November 2014

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I S S U E 11 | N OV E M B E R 2014








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Discover Benelux |  Contents

Contents NOVEMBER 2014


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Olcay Gulsen


As both the beauty and the brains behind the ever expanding label SuperTrash, Gulsen is one of the Netherland’s leading fashion designers.



Benelux Cuisine A gastronomic adventure through some of the Benelux’s best food and drink including tasty Belgian beer, Dutch Gouda cheese, Luxembourg Kachkeís and more.





Introducing: Daniel Pembrey Englishman and best-selling writer Pembrey tells us why the Benelux is such a great setting for his fast-pace crime novels. PLUS: Long Read: The Harbour Master II, chapter 1, page 90.


Rotterdam – Architecture in motion Often overshadowed by its big sister Amsterdam, we put the spotlight firmly on this intriguing city, highlighting its magnificent architecture.

Art & Design From graphic design and sculptures to classic cars, our art and design special covers the subjects in the most wide-ranging sense of the words. PLUS: States of the Art, column by Matt Antoniak, page 74.



Dutch Architecture & Interiors Innovative designs, advanced materials and state-of-the-art techniques – here’s over forty pages of the top architects and interior designers from the Netherlands. PLUS: Featured: Leading Female Architects, page 65.

Jewellery & Beauty Featuring two exquisite jewellery designers and our Event of the Month – the Jewellery Art Fair in Amsterdam – this special is a true treasure trove. PLUS: Beauty – Kazem Aesthetica, page 85.


Regulars & Events Josiah Fisk talks us through the linguistics of EUglish and Steve Flinders explains why we shouldn’t be so passionate about things. PLUS: The Benelux Business Calendar, page 79.

Education Learn about our two featured top schools where talent development, top marks and specialist teachers are all aimed at giving your children the future they deserve.

DON’T MISS 10 Fashion Picks | 12 Desirable Designs from Benelux 86 Out & About | 88 Benelux Lifestyle Columns

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Discover Benelux |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux

Cover Photo

Issue 11, November 2014

Mick de Lint

Published 11.2014


ISSN 2054-7218

Published by

Sales & Key Account Managers

Scan Group

Mette Tonnesen Yasmina Haddadi

Design & Print Liquid Graphic Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck Contributors Julie Lindén Janine Sterenborg Stine Lise Wannebo Emmie Collinge

Raphaël Pousse Maxence Pruvost Steven Ebbers Henk Gieskens Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Martin Pilkington Berthe van den Hurk Rupert Parker Bettina Guirkinger Josiah Fisk Steve Flinders Anouk Kalmes

November might be my new favourite month. Although it’s grey and cold outside and the holiday season is nowhere in sight yet, for me it is the time of new beginnings and most importantly, the month I became editor at Discover Benelux. Thanks to Emmie Collinge, who was at its helm from the early beginnings, and Julie Lindén who oversaw the most recent issues, I now have an incredible standard to maintain and I am privileged to do so. As a native of the Benelux region – I was born and raised in the Netherlands and I’ve visited Belgium and Luxembourg many times – I know how much there is to see, do, learn and experience in these wonderful countries. From innovative design, a surprisingly rich and mouth-watering cuisine to expert jewellery designers and progressive artists. There are few things this small region doesn’t excel in. A personal highlight in this issue is our food special and I am very proud indeed to present a ten page section dedicated to the gastronomic highlights of the Low Countries including three articles about the wonderful world of Benelux cheeses. If that doesn’t whet your appetite then I don’t know what will! Then before I stray into the astonishing architecture special we have this month, or the powerful Olcay Gulsen as our cover star, there is one thing I’d like to rectify. Although I’m from the Netherlands, I am not – as it happens – from Holland. Many use the two terms interchangeably (wrongly, including many Dutch people, as it’s easier to say and internationally it’s more famous); Holland is merely a part of the country, or the two provinces along the west coast to be precise. My home town of Groningen in the north is not part of it.

Silvia de Vries Matt Antoniak Simon Woolcot Heather Welsh

So there is a little Benelux trivia to brighten up your November. And before you know it, it might become your favourite month too.

Joshua Yancey Abby Ward

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may  not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission  of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

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Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature |  Olcay Gulsen

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Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature |  Olcay Gulsen



The queen of Dutch power fashion Fashion designer and entrepreneur Olcay Gulsen is not one for talking. Or at least not endlessly as she believes it’s better to prove your worth by doing. This formula is certainly working for SuperTrash, which is now one of the Netherlands’ leading new fashion labels. Discover Benelux asked her to share her secrets of success and talked about granny-outfits, Googling yourself and impulse decision-making. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: OLCAY GULSEN, SUPERTRASH

There is little need to exaggerate Gulsen’s success: with over 2,000 SuperTrash outlets in over 30 different countries, she is a force to be reckoned with. Gulsen, 34, from Waalrijk in the Netherlands, set up SuperTrash ten years ago. “When I started out, a lot of men in the industry underestimated me because I wasn’t dressed in a power suit. I think staying true to yourself is important in business and doing things your way,” she says. “You don’t always have to scream and shout to get what you want – just be yourself, believe in what you’re doing and the rest will come!” SuperTrash likes to stand out. The collection includes eye-catching designs with glittery details, metallic finishes, distinctive patterns, and the clothes are made from high quality materials. Building it up from scratch, Gulsen was only 23 years old when she started. So what is her secret of success? “Prove by doing. That’s my mantra,” she answers decisively. “There’s no point talking about things endlessly when you can just get on with it and see if it works. I’m driven by the constantly changing nature of the fashion world. There’s nothing that stays the same weekafter-week, month-after-month and that is what drives me. What’s next? What should we be doing? Where are we going? I be-

lieve you have to question yourself to keep a brand alive.” Her passion is addictive and it is hard not to feel inspired by her words. When we ask her how this works in practice, she replies, “I’m good at replying to emails! I don’t ignore people. I’m just that girl from Waalrijk with global dreams. It’s no more complex than that.”

“London is our next big focus, it’s one of the toughest and most competitive markets in the world so a lot of my energy is going to be there. It’s also great that we have Roermond – we’re ultimately about accessible luxury and it’s the perfect location to prove that. As to the future, watch this space…”

Her hard work has clearly paid off. Apart from clothes, the women’s fashion label now includes bags, shoes, denim, cosmetics alongside the ST. Girls collection and the Madamme SuperTrash lingerie line. “The SuperTrash woman is strong, sexy and truly cosmopolitan,” Gulsen says proudly. “She loves her music, she loves her art, she knows how to party, she knows what she wants and she knows where she’s going.”

Adding to her already busy life, Gulsen was a judge on the Project Catwalk television series in the Netherlands where she mentored budding fashion designers. This year she also presented the 6-part reality show Werk Aan De Winkel, where she helped small business owners turn their waning companies around. Adding to her prolific image, Gulsen is a keen social media user and is not afraid to share her life with the public. “I don’t see there being any other option, really. I’m a huge part of SuperTrash and there’s no point hiding behind this perfectly-polished exterior all the time. People want something that’s real and I believe in saying what I think because that’s what every SuperTrash woman would do. Plus, life’s too short to be perfect all the time – I believe in perfect imperfection.” When we ask her whether this makes it hard to keep her private life and public image separate she is quick to reply. “I still find it hard that many people choose negativity over

As a SuperTrash women herself, also Gulsen knows exactly where she is going. With 15 brand stores across Belgium, the Netherlands and recently also in the United Kingdom, her fashion network is expanding rapidly. Just in the last two months, an outlet store opened in Roermond – in the south of the Netherlands – as well as a new flagship store in Carnaby Street in London. “Things are happening super-fast at the moment!” Gulsen radiates enthusiasm.

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Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature |  Olcay Gulsen

pulse decision-maker, but when things don’t work out, I’m always the first one to put my hand up and say so. In terms of my style, I look back and think ‘wow, that was a Granny-ish look’, but fashion is all about growing, changing and making the odd mistake! That’s what makes it fun.”

SuperTrash is accessible luxury fashion for women, from sophisticated dresses, beautifully finished tops to sexy lingerie.

positivity, but in terms of my personal and private life, I’ve learned to just accept it, I suppose. Lady Gaga Googles herself every day, what is she thinking?” This Dutch, down-to-earth approach to business is clearly still present and her roots are also represented in her SuperTrash collection. Gulsen says: “The Dutch are very honest, very direct and I think that’s definitely reflected in our clothes. Everything from the quotes on our sweaters (‘Success is the best revenge’) to the strong lines on our latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection has that strength weaved into it.” It is obvious that Gulsen is not one for sitting still, and for the rising female business owner hard work is a matter of every day. “Last week it was press breakfasts in Hamburg, this week it’s visiting our new store on London’s iconic Carnaby Street,” Gulsen says, as she runs us through her busy schedule. “I’m a believer that the show must go on – however busy or exhausted you get. The only thing that’s consistent is that there’s always another trend, always another collection driving me to get out of bed (whatever the hour!).” Fashion has always been her greatest love, but she didn’t actually go to a fashion

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academy. Instead she did a course in Human Resource Management. After she finished, she set up her own talent agency providing staff for the fashion industry. This was her first encounter with the world of fashion and immediately got valuable connections with major companies. This led Gulsen to decide to set one up herself and being a self-made business woman only made her more passionate and ambitious to succeed. She is also very aware of her own qualities, both positive and negative but even this doesn’t hold her back. “I’m 100% an im-

Despite her rise and rise, Gulsen still is very hands on when it comes to creating a new SuperTrash collection as well as giving the brand a clear direction. “I’m involved in every stage from initial sketches right the way through to launching the collection at our big annual show in January. When other brands turn left, we tend to turn right – not for the sake of being different, but because I’m a believer in keeping my own DNA in the brand and that way it remains authentic and, in turn, unique,” she says. When we ask her about her future plans and whether we can expect any more television appearances she leaves her options open. “To be honest I can’t really look that far in advance at the moment. With the launch of our big Carnaby Street store coming up and plans for further London expansion, it’s going to be fairly hectic, but I’m always open to new opportunities, especially when it means sharing my experience in business with others,” Gulsen says. Either way, this leading lady of Dutch fashion won’t slow down easily. With her company growing every year it’s only a matter of time before SuperTrash will be all over the news once again.

Olcay Gulsen’s fashion picks: In: The catwalks saw a huge 60s resurgence, so it’s all about miniskirts, trapeze dresses yet with a sleek, futuristic edge. Out: I’m not a huge fan of oversized knits – if you’ve got it, wear the right clothes to flaunt it, I say. Must-have: A statement jacket, we have some really cool statement coats in our Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. Like the Jodette coat (see photo right).

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Discover Benelux |  Design |  Fashion Picks



P I C K S :

The last stroke of autumn With the autumn slowly coming to an end and the holiday season quickly creeping up on us, there is nothing better than to get those early Christmas presents in style. Here are our top fashion picks for November that will help you defy the wind and the cold.




WOMEN 1: Undoubtedly stylish A.F. Vandevorst recently opened a brand new flagship store in Antwerp’s fashion district, and this dress ‘Doubt’ is one of their new hits. With its bright red colour and rounded neck the name could not be more duplicitous. Add a pair of dark tights and a low-key necklace to make the perfect outfit for the dusky winter days to come.  (From €349) Available at

2: Subtle colours of November If you haven’t fully embraced autumn by now, it isn’t too late quite yet. This look by the Belgian brand Frankly is subtle yet colourful and will appear stunning in a business meeting or a night out in town. If designer Annelies Braeckman cannot make you love autumn, no one will.  (Price on request.) Available at


A clutch is a must-have accessory, no  matter the season. This one from Dutch Basics is chic while also slightly edgy and the colour and material makes it the perfect companion for all your November outfits. It can even be turned into a cross-over if so preferred and the purse is made from certified eco-friendly nappa leather and black organic canvas.  (From €199)


Available at

4: Pearl of beauty Alexandre Rosenberg creates exceptional jewellery  for some of Luxembourg’s most prestigious fashion houses. Every item is personalised and made at their workshop in Luxembourg City using the highest  quality materials. This pearl pendant, called Syracuse, is set in white gold with one round pearl and 33  brilliant cut stones. It’s definitely on our wish list. (From €2,285) Available at

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3: Purse perfection

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Discover Benelux |  Design |  Fashion Picks


MEN 1: Tight knit Alone or with a shirt, this navy blue V-neck knit is perfect for the last days of autumn. Amsterdam based Cold Method specialises in quality clothing with a luxurious look and feel, and this partly cashmere sweater is no exception. Looking smashing is no longer enough, you need to feel it too!  (From €119.95) Available at


2: From coat to bag We are in awe over this rough and unadorned unisex handbag, which is made out of a large overcoat or two leather jackets! Some will have four outside pockets, others only two; either way, thanks to its size it’s the perfect weekend bag. It is created by Belgian designer Eric Beaudin who makes all his bags from second-hand clothes.  (From €520) Available at


3: Timeless finesse Classic looking watches like these have the perfect balance between simplicity and elegance. While it’s Swiss made, the design and composition is Luxembourgish through and through. Schroeder Joailliers, founded in 1877, has managed to build a renowned brand across the world. Who knew being on time could look so good? (From €495) Available at

4: Keep it simple Black and whites are always in fashion and we can tell Francisco Van Benthum thinks so too. The details make the outfit, and the saying ‘less is more’ has never been more true. Keeping it simple is the key and layers are a great way to add a little extra to your style. In these chilly autumn months they are more than just a fashion statement.  Prices upon request.) Available at


5: Casual style Combined with a simple sweater this will be one of the main looks from the end of autumn. We love this checked shirt from Gsus, it adds a bit of colour to the rainy November days and will only become more stylish after a couple of washes. The bulky stitching and buttons are rough and stylish and finish the look. (From €79.99) Available at

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Discover Benelux |  Design |  Desirable Designs

Desirable Designs from the Benelux From practical to stylish and functional to adorable – take your pick. Whether you simply want some inspiration for this year's Christmas presents or like to get gift shopping out of the way altogether, here are some of our favourite Benelux designs.




5: Functional vanity Photo: Isabel Rottiers There is nothing like killing two birds with one stone, take for example this table and mirror combination called In Vain. Ben Storms is the brilliant Belgian designer who created it using marble, leather, cast iron and polished stainless steel as a mirror. It represents simplicity, mobility and efficiency and can be positioned straight up against the wall. How about using it as an extra table for the unexpected Christmas? No need to stow away either! (From €9,916)


1: A captivating cuppa Few things have a greater significance during our morning routines than the perfect mug and these adorable coffee cups are absolutely spot on. Every item is one of a kind and comes straight from designer Kirstie van Noort’s in Eindhoven. She experiments with materials such as tin and copper from the old industries in Cornwall and uses it as paint to colour earthenware and china. The result is captivating – it creates cups in calming colours that are 100% dishwasher safe. (From €12.50)

2: A chair with a buzz ‘Mosquito’ is nowhere near as troublesome as the insect it is named after – quite the opposite. Belgian designer Michael Bihain has put much thought and feeling into the design of this chair, which was inspired by the form of a living being to create movement. The result makes it look like anything but something to sit on. We love the simplicity of this piece of wooden furniture and the way it can easily be stacked away in piles if ever needed to be. (From €786)


3: It's a wrap Photo:Jessica Nielsen With the holidays right around the corner it is not only time to start thinking about presents but also Christmas wrapping paper. Dutch designer Jessica Nielsen has created some beautiful patterns for the blog Bloesem that will certainly get you in the right jolly mood. The simple designs on white paper feature the traditional festive symbols such as trees, moose and ornaments but with a modern twist making it both stylish and classic. It’s definitely something we’d want to find under our Christmas trees this year. (Free tasters can be downloaded from but the real wrapping paper will be available from €65)


Photo: Ollie Snurk Always wanted to cuddle up to a kitten at night but avoid getting hairs all over the bed? Then Dutch SNURK has the answer to your prayers. They are looking for a companion for Ollie, a quiet little kitty made out of 100% soft cotton, so allergies are not an issue either. The white bedding comes in single and double sets, includes pillowcases and can be shipped all over the world. The cosy bedspreads are also available with the endearing pup Bob or two adorable sheep. (Single bed sheets from €59.95 and double from €99.95)

4: Light it up We are just head over heels for this simple, bare wooden table lamp from Home Interiors by Flamant. It would look lovely in the kitchen, flawless in the living room and fabulous in the hallway. There is nothing like plain and raw materials to add that outdoor atmosphere to your home and light up the autumn days. (From €395)

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5: Cat naps


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T H E M E :

Benelux cuisine From scrumptious cheeses to golden beer and tender steak, our Discover Benelux cuisine special is a feast for every food and drink enthusiast. Starting off, we reveal the secrets behind some of Belgium’s best artisan beers as explained by a master brewer. Next, you can whet your appetite on six pages on cheeses from the Lowlands, covering the cream of the crop of Belgian, the Netherlands’ and Luxembourg’s top cheeses. Last but not least we present two top locations, our Restaurant of the Month and Hotel of the Month, where every dish on their menus will be a satisfying banquet for the taste buds. Enjoy!

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Proud of Belgium’s beer Belgium is the beer country par excellence: each Belgian beer tells its own story that is part of our national heritage. Belgium offers a unique range of beers having the most contrasting tastes and flavours. Our beers are internationally appreciated because of their uniqueness, diversity, quality and authenticity. To summarize, there’s a lot to be proud of. But as befits the sober Belgian, we are far too modest. Therefore the brewers call on all  Belgians  to  be  proud  of  our  Belgian beers and show their appreciation.

rich beer culture of our country, let you enjoy beers and their stories, discover surprising flavours and combinations and fill you in on  fun  facts  and  tips.  Discover  our  campaign on We have wonderful beers, enough variety even to discover one new beer each day of the coming new year. So let us toast the end  of  2014  and  the  start  of  2015.  And with a nice glass of beer instead of champagne to show how proud we are of our iconic product. Cheers!

With our campaign “Proud of our Beer” we put our fantastic Belgian beers in the spotlight. We give you some more insight into the

Jean-Louis Van de Perre, President Belgian Brewers

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Brewery Bosteels – a toast to tradition

“It would be like choosing a favourite child,” says Antoine Bosteels, seventh generation brewer of the noted Belgian Brewery Bosteels, when I ask which one of his three beers is his favourite. The lack of choice can only be attributed to his enormous passion for his craft, a craft his family has perfected over 200 years of beer-brewing. TEXT: JULIE LINDÉN  |  PHOTOS: BREWERY BOSTEELS

With  a  sound  focus  on  tradition,  re-investment and careful selection of expert personnel, Bosteels has become somewhat of a celebrity in his industry – and there is little doubt why. “I love the business,  and  I  love  working  on  top-quality products,”  Bosteels  says  proudly,  underlining that although his family has always been in the business, it was never a  given  that  he  would  enter  the  same sphere. “My parents never forced me to take over the brewery. I have cousins as well,  so  the  business  could  have  been given to one of them had I not expressed a desire to take over. I guess my parents

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were  lucky  I  was  so  interested  in  the brewing craft,” says Bosteels.

The best team His down-to-earth charisma and extensive knowledge of the industry come together seamlessly as he enthusiastically describes his products. Producing a mere three kinds of beer is rare for a brewery, he explains, emphasising that it’s not without intention that he has kept his team small. “Our beers can be likened to our team,” he says confidently,  adding:  “We  don’t  have  a  big team, but we have the best team there is. Nothing less goes for our beers.”

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Antoine Bosteels is a seventh generation brewer and has enormous passion for his craft. Thanks to the optimal balance between tradition and modern brewery processes, the top quality of Brewery Bosteels’ beers is maintained.

One  of  them  is  the  popular  Kwak  beer, blessed  with  a  particular  story.  In Napoleon’s  time  coachmen  would  pass by Pauwel Kwak, a Dendermonde brewer, and despair at the fact that they were not allowed to follow their passengers inside for a drink. Solving the issue in literal balance  with  creativity,  Kwak  had  special glasses blown that could easily be hung from  the  coaches.  Still  today,  the  beer holds  the  name  of  the  18th  century brewer and is served in the same glass, preserving its distinctive and recognisable taste.

expected, however, that upon finishing our brew, we’d find an almost identical recipe for the beer in the nearby Monastery Karmeliet. Calculating  the  recipe  we  found  out  that the monks of the monastery had invented a brew 90 per cent like ours in 1679.”

A historic reincarnation

The “beer from heaven”

As far as stories go, Bosteels’s other beers offer  them  plentifully.  Few  match  that  of the tri-grain brew Tripel Karmeliet, a tale, however,  Bosteels  himself  found  difficult to believe upon discovering it.

Perhaps not historical, but equally exclusive,  is  the  delightfully  sparkling  Deus. Hailed by experts as “stunning” and “unmatchable”, this beer is the closest you will ever get to Champagne, while still retaining a rich beer-like barley flavour. Ideal as an aperitif out of the ordinary, and named by Bosteels as a “beer from heaven”, the drink is a splendid choice for a night of celebra-

The year of 1679 was given an honorary spot on the beer’s label, as a tribute to the first recipe. “It was amazing, surprising and astonishing. Even calculated through modern technology, the recipes are this much alike.  It  makes  the  beer  historical,”  says Bosteels.

tions – especially if you know some of the story behind its making. “A  horizontal  fermentation  process  gives the beer its distinctive flavour, achieved by gradually tilting each bottle to release yeast from  the  bottle  walls  and  collect  all  the sediments in its head. The whole process is carried out by expert brewers in France, which does have an effect on the price,” Bosteels says, pausing slightly before continuing: “But if there’s something we don’t do, it’s compromising on quality.”

History, quality and orginality

“Tripel  Karmeliet has a very characteristic taste, supported by a proportioned mix of wheat, oats and malt,” he says. “We never

The  high  standard  of  quality  Brewery Bosteels stands for has naturally kept the production local, limiting export to keep a good balance between authentic tradition and  the  modern  brewery  processes.  Although Brewery Bosteels invests much of its revenue in cutting-edge technology in order to perfect their products, the heart and soul of the brands will always remain in their history – and their provenance. “It’s important to me that my beers are enjoyed  in  Belgium,”  says  Bosteels.  “Even though the demand for our beers abroad outdoes our current production capacity, I wouldn’t want to change anything. Growth is  not  a  purpose.  Quality  and  growth  always have to go hand in hand, and they have to follow each other organically.” Staying  true  to  their  philosophy  “history, quality and originality”, there is little reason to believe that Brewery Bosteels will lose any of its popularity.

Issue 11 |  November 2014 |  17

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Benelux Cuisine

The great Belgian cheese adventure It all started in Brussels. I was in the Moeder Lambic Fontainas pub, sampling their beers when I asked the owner, Jean Hummler, for a snack. He soon came out with one of their local cheese platters and told me that he’d chosen the best of Wallonia cheeses, all made from raw milk. TEXT & PHOTOS: RUPERT PARKER

I followed his tasting advice and started with the goat before moving on to the cow, and finished with Belgium’s famous Herve. I already knew that beer was big here, but cheese? Jean said that in the last few years, artisan cheese making had become a big thing. But most of the products don’t get beyond the farm gate, let alone to Brussels. He marked my map and next thing I knew, I was off on a weeklong quest crossing 1,000 kilometres, meeting over a dozen fromageurs and sampling some of Belgium’s best cheeses. The picturesque town of Nivelles was less than an hour away, and I arrived for the large Saturday market, with over a hundred stalls laid out around the church of St Gertrude. I was interested in the handful of

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cheese vendors and met up with Christophe Col from the Ferme de la Baillerie, just outside the town. His products are only available in his farm shop and at the five different markets he visits, one for every day of the week. He invited me back to see his 120 goats, all in the peak of health, fed only on clover and grass from his pesticidefree fields. For Christophe, it’s the quality of the milk that is the most important factor in cheese making and he has no truck with imported feed from elsewhere. I sampled his fresh Crottin, a mere 48-hour old, and then moved on to his Tomme which is aged three months, and saw no reason to disagree. Next I drove 160 km east to le Fromagerie du Troufleur in Waimes to meet Françoise

Ledur, who’s very proud of her 55 red and white Montbéliarde cows, a rare breed, originally from France. She only started making cheese six years ago, when the price of milk plunged. Fortunately an 85year-old fromageur was on hand to divulge his secrets and now she produces around 600 kilos a month, all from raw milk. Her masterpiece is Le Troufleur, washed in local Bellevaux beer and aged for a couple of months. This is cheese with lots of character and when I ask why she doesn’t age it longer, she says that Belgians don’t like strong cheeses. Besides she sells everything she produces. Being Sunday, there was another market to explore, this time the Marché du Terroir, in Aubel. I had an appointment with Philippe

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Polinard, from the Ferme du Vieux Moulin, who  sells  his  unpasteurised  Herve  here. This  is  the  only  AOP  (protected  status) cheese in Belgium, probably the most wellknown, and it’s been made in the same region  since  the  15th  century.  Most  of  the cheese is made from pasteurised milk, but Philippe and his wife Madeleine, are among a handful of producers making it from raw cow’s milk. She’s passionate about its benefits, believing pasteurisation kills the vitamins,  minerals  and  living  organisms  that the body needs for its wellbeing.  In the next few days, I visited a variety of raw milk  cheese  producers,  all  making  just enough to sell locally. As a cheese hound, I thought I couldn’t get enough but I finally almost meet my match at la Ferme du Château de Fisenne, in Erezée. Françoise Espagnard works  as  part  of  a  cooperative  at  la  Fromagerie des Tourelles and I stayed the night in her chambre d’Hôtes. She made simple but hearty home cooked food with lashings of her own cheese. She was remarkably generous with her product at breakfast and dinner but since the dairy is on site, there’s little danger of it running out. Unusually she ages some of her cheeses for up to nine months, like  my  favourite  the  mature  Echauguette, strong and delicious.  I couldn’t leave without meeting the Godfather of Belgium cheese at his well-stocked shop in Stambruges: Jacquy Cange, otherwise known as Le Grand Fromage.  He doesn’t actually make cheese himself, but as an ‘affineur’ he scours Belgium and other countries to find artisan cheeses which he can mature in his four cellars. He has been at the forefront of Belgium cheese making since  1985  and  doesn’t  just  buy  cheese but also dispenses advice to farmers. Raw  milk  cheeses  make  up  90%  of Cange’s  stock,  and  he  confides  in  me

Fromageurs Ferme de la Baillerie Ferme Artisanale du Bousval

Rupert Parker discovered the flourishing raw milk cheese industry in Belgium and tasted some of its best local produce.

that  the  government  has  been  surprisingly liberal in its interpretation of the hygiene  rules.  Brussels,  as  the  headquarters  of  the  EU,  seemed  determined  to stamp out all irregularities with their food police  but  the  Belgian  government  has been  very  supportive  of  the  raw  milk cheese  makers.  Over-policing  the  rules could  be  detrimental  to  this  delicate  industry,  particularly  for  the  independent fromageurs. It’s a great triumph to see the raw cheeses thrive, not just for the makers  but  for  everyone  tasting  their  delicious cheeses.

Fromagerie du Troufleur,  Rue de la Gagire, 4950 Waimes  Ferme du vieux Moulin Chevrerie D'Ozo Aux saveur des Dolmens,  Morville, 23 6940 Weris  Fromagerie du Gros Chêne Fromagerie du Samson Fromagerie des Tourelles Fromagerie Chimay Ferme du Mouligneau Chateau de Fisenne (Chambre d’Hôtes)

Belgian cheese markets Jacky Cange Marché de Nivelles Marché du Terroir, Aubel

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C H E E S E :

The Orange gold of the Netherlands When you think of Holland, there are a number of things that might spring to mind: wooden shoes, tulips, and of course cheese. But why is it that we Dutch are so famous for our Gouda? What is the history of the Dutch cheese? Let’s go back in time. TEXT: SILVIA DE VRIES  |  PHOTOS: HOLLAND MEDIA BANK

Cheese  making  in  Holland  is  a  tradition that goes back centuries, the first evidence of it dates as far back as 800 BC. Initially cheese  was  primarily  made  in  regions along the Dutch coast. The wet soil of the coastal land was best suited for dairy farming. While cheese (or ‘kaas’) was first made for people’s own use, this all changed drastically during the Middle Ages, when Dutch cheese became a highly valued product for export. The Dutch cheese farmers focused mainly  on  one  type,  the  firm  yet  creamy cow’s milk cheese with a delicate balance of sweet, sour and salty flavours. Without

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a doubt, this distinctive flavour and texture added to its success.

Cheese making in the Netherlands Just like all cheeses, the Dutch variety is made by curdling milk. With the addition of rennet  (an  acidy  enzyme  found  in  cow stomachs), lactic bacteria separate the milk into solid particles and a pale liquid called whey.  The  particles,  or  curds,  are  sifted out, cut and washed in water to force out more whey. This washing process, typical for Dutch cheeses, is done in warm water between 35 and 55 degrees Celsius and lowers their acidity and creates milder-tasting cheeses.

The curd is then pressed into moulds, after which the cheeses are submerged in a brine bath for several days adding a salty flavour and preserving them from spoiling. After this, the cheeses are stored for the maturation process; young cheese is up to four  weeks  old,  mature  is  around  four months,  and  very  old  cheese  can  be  a year old or more.

Golden cheese age The Dutch ‘Golden Age’ marked the beginning of our international fame for cheese making.  During  this  period  of  prosperity for  the  Netherlands  in  the  17th  century, trade  boomed  and  Dutch  merchant  ves-

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Photo:  Silvia De Vries

The history of Dutch cheese making goes back for centuries. The Golden Age, the 17th century, saw a big increase in trade in cheese and weighing houses sprung up all over the country.

sels  sailed  all  across  the  world.  Markets dedicated to cheese, like the now famous ones in Gouda and Alkmaar, and weighing houses, opened all over the country. It was also  the  time  when  the  first  regulations were set in place for the quality of cheese, mainly focusing on the fat content. While the Golden Age is long behind us, to this  day  Dutch  cheese  is  the  most  exported cheese in the world. On average, the Dutch dairy industry makes €12 billion in revenue each year. Despite the country’s size, it is in the top five of cheese producing countries in the world.

the  region  of  Holland  (the  east  of  the Netherlands), where it would be laid out on the market square. As opposed to Edam, the  name  therefore  refers  to  the  place where it was traditionally sold, not made.

ter fat. The molten product is heated and keeps for a long time and comes in various flavours such as ham, paprika and chives.

Try and buy cheese in the Netherlands

Today, the Gouda cheese market is a popular tourist destination where the tradition of ‘handjeklap’ is still kept alive. The term refers to the historic selling ritual in which buyers and sellers clap each other’s hands and  shout  out  prices.  Once  a  deal  was agreed, porters would carry the cheeses, each weighing up to 14 kilos, in a wooden barrow.

Reypenaer Tastingroom Amsterdam Try their own Reynenaer cheese, a  two-time award winner and feast for  the taste buds. Kaashuis Tromp It has several outlets in Amsterdam  and other cities: check the website for  the locations.

Delicious Dutch cheeses to try

Even  though  a  big  part  our  cheese  production is for export – almost three quarters  of  it  –  the  Dutch  still  manage  to  eat close to 20 kilos of the golden dairy product each every year.

Gouda and Edam cheese Edam  cheese  is  one  of  the  Netherlands’ most popular cheese brands abroad. This is not only thanks to its low fat content and wonderfully mild and creamy taste, but also because it keeps its flavour for a long time. The  pale-yellow,  semi-hard  cheese  was originally made in and around the western town  of  Edam.  It  was  traditionally  sold  in small spheres with a distinctive coat of red paraffin wax that kept it from drying out. The first mention of Gouda cheese was in 1184, making it one of the oldest recorded cheeses in the world that is still made today. During the Middle Ages, the City of Gouda acquired the sole rights to sell cheese within

Other types of Dutch cheeses Leidse cheese – The original cumin cheese from Leiden is semi-hard, piquant and extremely tasty; the more mature, the more intense the cumin flavour. A variety of this type is herbal cheese – mustard and nettle  cheeses  in  particular  being  excellent ones to try.

Kernhem: a mild, creamy and semi-soft  washed-rind cheese. Petit Doruvael: a mild aromatic cheese with  a French-sounding name, but made on a farm in the so-called ‘Green Heart’ of Holland. Graafdijker: soft creamy blue cheese,  one of the few made in the Netherlands.

Traditional cheese markets

Gatenkaas – This cheese has large holes, a domed shape and a sweet, nutty taste created by special bacteria that release gases during  the  maturation  process.  The  best brands are Leerdammer and Maasdam. Frisian clove cheese – Made with low fat milk, cumin and cloves, the cheese has a firm and crumbly texture. The long ripening process  creates  a  sharp,  flagrant  and somewhat tart cheese. Smeerkaas  –  A  type  of  cheese  that  you can spread thanks to the addition of but-

(summer months only) Alkmaar  every Friday morning Edam  every Wednesday morning Gouda  every Thursday morning

Cheese museum Alkmaar Learn about the rich history and traditions  of Dutch cheese makers.

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Luxembough speciality cheese Luxembourg, though small, produces an impressive array of regional food products. Especially notable are the cheeses, including ‘kachkéis’. It is a type of soft, spreadable cheese made from cow’s milk and often likened to the taste of cooked Camembert. TEXT: ABIGAIL WARD  |  MAIN PHOTO: ARNAUD CLERGET

The  creamy,  sticky  cheese  has  a  buttery colour and velvety-smooth texture, and is found  as  a  daily  condiment  on  many  of Luxembourg’s  kitchen  tables.  Kachkéis, literarily  translated  as  cooking-cheese,  is similar to France’s cancoillotte.  It is either sold as the liquid, ready-made product in small tubs or can be bought as a semi-firm sausage which is subsequently melted down with milk to create the thick, runny cheese. The cheese can be found in its natural form or with added garlic, cumin or  herbs.  Kachkéis  is  one  of  the  few cheeses which is extremely low in fat, so it’s no wonder Luxembourgers swear by it.

The origin of Luxembourg’s everyday cuisine  is  firmly  based  on  hearty,  peasantstyle meals, making Kachkéis ideal with its versatile qualities, finding its place at almost any meal. The modest flavour lends itself effortlessly to many different dishes. One of the  most  well-known  Luxembourgish dishes  is  Judd  mat  gaardebounen (smoked pork neck with broad bean stew and  sautéed  potatoes  with  bacon)  and cold  kachkéis  is  typically  served  as  a condiment on the side to pour over the potatoes. The dynamic cheese is also one of the staples  of  a  Luxembourg  breakfast  eaten Photo: Choco Bar Luxembourg

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Photo: Genussregion Oberfranken e.V.

spread on tartines (toasted bread), or as a snack  with  mustard  spread  over  the cheese for added flavour. Another way to prepare the cheese is to melt it down under  a  low  flame  with  white  wine,  garlic, salt, egg yolk and plenty of butter turning it into an easy-to-make sauce. The  manufacture  of  kachkéis  can  be  divided into three steps; extracting the curd from skimmed milk, maturing the curd and finally heating the curd into a spreadable consistency.

Photo: Liz Wenger

During  the  first  step,  the  milk  is  heated over a low flame for a slow acidification – this  can  take  as  long  as  eighteen  hours which  ensures  the  cheese  takes  on  its characteristic  flavour.  After  the  milk  curd and  whey  are  separated,  the  curds  are reheated and put through a press to make them dryer and eliminate as much whey as possible. It is then ground down and left to mature for three to five days. The ground cheese, also known as ‘metton’ in French, is  then  slowly  softened  au-bain-marie  to be  packaged  either  as  it  is  or  with  the  addition of butter and milk for the readymade product.

Photo: Marti Vicente

Kachkéis is pretty hard to get your hands on  anywhere  outside  of  Luxembourg.  If you are hoping to sample one of Luxembourg’s  finest  delicacies,  you’re  going  to have to make a visit!

ABOVE: Luxlait, Luxembourg’s national dairy company, is the main producer of kachkéis. The cheese is still made in a traditional way without preservatives or stabilisers. Photo: Luxlait.

Issue 11 |  November 2014 |  23

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Luxembourg

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , L U X E M B O U R G


Thousands of Luxembourgers took their skills and energy to Argentina in the 19th century. With the Cafetin de Buenos Aires, one of Luxembourg City’s most mouth-wateringly enjoyable restaurants, Argentina has returned the favour. Those close links are recalled in photos that adorn the restaurant and its bar, pictures of Luxembourgers who became Argentinians interspersed with more recognizable heroes like Che Guevara and Diego Maradona. “But Luxembourg is a very cosmopolitan place, so we get people from all over eating here: English, Spanish, Norwegians... and of course ex-patriot Argentines,” says owner Stella Sonez. Fish, chicken, empanadas, pasta – the majority of Argentines have Italian roots – and

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salads feature on the menu, but the big draw here (unless you’re vegetarian, and even then you might be tempted) is the fabulous Argentine beef: “The quality of the beef we bring in can be seen immediately – the colour’s the first thing you notice, before you taste it. Then there’s the texture: we don’t have steak knives here, the meat is super-super tender, and served without sauce, just grilled or pan-fried like in Argentina,” says Mme Sonez. Great beef calls for fine red wine to accompany it and Argentina is not lacking there either. The Cafetin offers a carefully chosen selection of prestige bottles, working among others with the oldest (and most renowned) of Argentina’s 1,500 wine merchants. What’s not at times on the menu is as important a mark of quality as what is available: “It’s what we call a ‘carte reduite’, that is to

say there is a limited number of dishes, as we cook everything fresh just as we would in Argentina,” says Stella. “We don’t use frozen, so we can sometimes run out, or maybe not find the quality needed that day.” The recipe is working, with all 62 covers taken nearly every night – and the 70 terrace seats likewise when the weather permits. Argentina enjoys magnificent culinary resources, but it’s culturally rich too, something celebrated this November with an exhibition in Cafetin of works by internationally-known artists born there. “I let them use the restaurant so people can see Argentina is not just about cows!” says Stella. Cafetin de Buenos Aires, 18, rue des Capucins

Discover Benelux | Hotel of the Month | The Netherlands


A castle hotel for connoisseurs TEXT & PHOTOS: TERWORM CASTLE

TerWorm Castle is a real gem among the castles of Limburg. Nestled in the greenery of a 220-hectare estate, it offers you complete tranquillity. The 14th-century castle opened as a hotel and restaurant in 1999. It prides itself on its home-fromhome hospitality, coupled with gastronomic pleasure. The castle boasts over 40 luxury rooms and special suites, 10 of which are in the castle itself and 30 in the Homestead. Host Pascal Gulpen explains: "TerWorm Castle is the only place in Limburg where guests can spend the night in a real castle." Each room and suite is uniquely furnished. Above the entrance gate lies the charming "Gatekeeper Suite", with authentic collar beams and a loft. On entering the spacious castle suites, you can imagine yourself as Baron or Baroness TerWorm. Take a relaxing soak in a classical bath resting on golden lion's paws, or daydream in the two-person watch tower with a panoramic view of the French Rococo Garden. "Choosing is an art, that's

what we always tell our guests," says sales manager Tatjana Smeets. The classic restaurant offers five stylish, separate rooms, and is also suitable for private dinners from two to 40 people. The kitchen team under the watchful eye of Chef de Cuisine and Master Chef Andy Brauers pampers you with dishes mostly consisting of seasonal and local produce. From asparagus and lamb in spring, to wild boar, partridge, mushrooms and truffles in the autumn, accompanied, of course, by an elegant wine from our wine cellars, located in the castle's ancient vaults. In the winter you can take a glorious walk around the estate, while summer is a wonderful time to unwind on the unique terrace by the moat. As soon as you pass underneath the castle gate, your everyday stress slips away and you can savour the finer things in life. Besides a hotel and restaurant, TerWorm Castle is also a popular location for business meetings. From board meetings to a quick business lunch, the TerWorm team always of-

fers a professional service. TerWorm Castle also provides the ideal backdrop for romantic occasions. Every year around one hundred weddings are held in the Orangery, situated in the Rococo Garden. TerWorm is positioned in the centre of the Benelux, in the most southerly point of the Netherlands, bordering directly on Belgium and Germany (the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion). No fewer than seven airports can be reached from TerWorm Castle within one hour, including Maastricht-Aachen, Eindhoven, Liège, Charleroi, Dßsseldorf and CologneBonn.

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Daniel Pembrey He is the four-time best-selling author who has accumulated a crowd of readers enthralled by his fast-paced crime stories. A fan of setting his crime novels in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Daniel Pembrey speaks to Discover Benelux about trial and error, creating that perfect character and what it really takes to write a bestseller. TEXT: JULIE LINDÉN

DB: Hi, Daniel! Despite being an Englishman, you have made your mark in the literary world by setting your – highly successful – stories in the Benelux countries. You’ve lived in Luxembourg, where your novella The Candidate was set. What is it about these countries that lend themselves so well to crime fiction? DP: Well, take Luxembourg for example – it has so many interesting aspects to it. It’s a crossroads location, there are lots of different cultures and layers of history there that have accumulated over the years, it’s a financial centre, and it’s also visually very dramatic; compact but highly atmospheric. There’s something mysterious about it too, and you can play with that – all in all it lends itself very well to thrillers. DB: Your new novel, The Harbour Master II: The Maze, building on the story of maverick cop Henk van der Pol, takes place in several cities in the Benelux. How did you research these locations before incorporating them into your work? DP: In this book, Henk travels further afield than in The Harbour Master, from his home in Amsterdam to Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels. It gave a greater scope to the story. I’ve

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always been drawn to stories that grow organically from their settings, but you also need to combine that with finding the voice of the lead character. I ended up living in Amsterdam for three months and I got to know the city that way. I, an Englishman, then had to get into the head of a Dutch detective, and observe the way Dutch people communicate, to make the location, story and character believable. DB: What part of the Benelux is your personal favourite? DP: Though I used to live in Luxembourg, I find Amsterdam the most satisfying place for my work. Brussels is also great – it’s so rich in contrasts. All three places have welcomed me, which I really appreciate. DB: Now, we all want to know: how do you write a bestseller? DP: Well, the crime genre does lend itself nicely to popular fiction. It’s fast-paced and, when done well, highly satisfying. I’d say you need to focus on creating memorable characters, use fascinating locations and listen to your readers – write what they want to read!

Turn to page 90 to read the first chapter of Daniel’s book The Harbour Master II: The Maze, on sale now.

Discover Benelux | Feature | Architecture in Motion

Rotterdam is famous for its innovative architecture. LEFT: Notable are the iconic Erasmusbrug (the bridge designed by Ben van Berkel, see page 36) and De Rotterdam 'vertical city' by Rem Koolhaas, which opened November 2013.

R O T T E R D A M :


ates innovative dishes before they reach his main restaurant.

Rotterdam always seems to be hiding in the shadow of its more famous sibling, Amsterdam, partly because its historic centre was obliterated by Nazi bombs in WWII. It’s managed to turn this into a virtue as the resulting rebuilding process has put the city at the cutting edge of modern architecture.

Markthal The city centre’s open air market in Binnenrotte, held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, is right next to the futuristic covered Market Hall. The arched inside, covered with over 4,000 coloured tiles, is known as the Horn of Plenty and is the largest artwork in the Netherlands.

The most recent addition is the 150 metre tall De Rotterdam – a so-called vertical city – on the Wilhelmina Pier, next to the cruise terminal. At the foot of the distinctive Erasmus Bridge, it joins the towers of Mecanoo’s Montevideo, Norman Foster’s World Port Centre and Renzo Piano’s KPN building.

nhow Hotel Rotterdam Inside one of the De Rotterdam towers is the nhow Hotel, which makes perfect use of the building’s floor-to-ceiling windows. This is the epitome of cool and you can choose either a Sunset or a Sunrise room, depending on which view you prefer.

The Bobbing Forest In the disused harbour basin of Rijnhaven, Jorge Bakker is in the process of creating

Van Nelle Factory

the Bobbing Forest. The idea is to increase the green space of the inner city and eventually 20 Dutch elms will rise from floating containers. Now, there’s just a solitary prototype tree but the complete forest will be fully grown by 2015.

Recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Van Nelle Factory is an extraordinary example of industrial design from the late 1920s. Le Corbusier described it as ‘the most beautiful spectacle of the modern age’ and a ‘poem in steel and glass’. Now it is home to more than 80 art and media companies and hosts events such as Art Rotterdam.

FG Food Lab Francois Geurd’s restaurant FG already has two Michelin stars and in February, he opened the Food Lab. Here he experiments with top notch ingredients and cre-

Discover more about what Rotterdam has to offer online.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Dutch Architecture & Interiors



Designing the future From super structures, clever offices and futuristic bridges to historical renovations and interior design, this Special Theme leaves no architectural stone unturned. Over forty pages, we highlight some of the best and most innovative companies who are creating the city landscapes of the future – it is clear the Dutch have plenty of talent to be proud of in this field. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PRESS PHOTOS

Starting with a captivating introduction by the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA), the theme weaves through all subjects related to architecture, moves on to interior design, and it reserves a special section for some of the Netherlands’ leading ladies in architecture. But that is not all, as we conclude the Special Theme with a top garden designer and architecture photographer. With limited space to go round in their home country, it is hardly surprising that some of the Netherlands’ more iconic architectural designs have come to fruition

abroad. All across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, it is hard to find a country that hasn’t been directly influenced by one of its many innovative architects. Progressive design and advanced use of materials is the rule rather than the exception, but not all architecture is based on form alone. The Dutch are no strangers to using forward-thinking strategies to solve current architectural dilemmas. As pioneers of the adaptive office environment philosophy ‘New Ways of Working’ the Dutch have a lot to bring to the world of architecture.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors





The Dutch approach We created land where there was only water and built cities on it. In our struggle with the sea we learned to join our forces. We are specialists in creating new space. We are resourceful and combine this inventiveness with our technical knowhow. We prefer a holistic approach, binding people and cities together, letting neighbourhoods flourish. We are Dutch architects, we create quality of life. TEXT: THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF DUTCH ARCHITECTS (BNA)

Although the Netherlands is a very small country, Dutch architecture has spread around the world. From Berlin to New York, from Beijing to Moscow: Dutch architects have left their mark. Members of BNA left their traces in cities within the Netherlands and abroad. Many large offices have a solid international reputation, but smaller architectural agencies are also active abroad, thanks to their unique expertise.

Innovative planning Under the influence of Dutch history, culture and the unique topographic setting,

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the Netherlands is a wellspring of innovative, creative and idiosyncratic architects. Through the necessity of devising plans in the battle against water, Dutch architects have become masters in the management of water and land.

Spatial thinking In a densely populated country like the Netherlands, space is a premium asset. Spatial planning successfully integrates buildings, public space and infrastructure and requires a great deal of care and attention. The Dutch excel in complex building assignments. Not surprisingly, Dutch architects have a reputation for creating

highly efficient plans for affordable housing. No space goes to waste; every square metre is put to optimal use.

Experiment Dutch architects deliver uniquely developed plans. The planning process is characterized by a flexible and pragmatic approach. Accordingly, Dutch architects have acquired an international reputation for flexible urban masterplans and for iconic, exemplary buildings. Dutch architects are recognised internationally for their successful approach to: - Water management

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

ABOVE LEFT: Villa Kogelhof, by Architect agency Paul de Ruite. Nominated for BNA Best building of the year 2014. Photo: Jeroen Musch. TOP RIGHT: Farm in Friesland, by Jelle de Jong architekten BNA. Nominated for BNA Best building of the year 2014. Photo: Thijs Wolzak and Anna de Leeuw. BOTTOM LEFT: Loopgraafbrug op Fort de Roovere, By RO&AD architecten. Regional winner BNA Best building of the year 2011. Photo: RO&AD architecten. MIDDLE: Rozet, by Neutelings Riedijk architects. BNA Best building of the year 2014. Photo: Scagliola Brakkee. RIGHT: Rijksmuseum, Cruz y Ortiz Amsterdam Architectenbureau. Nominated for BNA Best building of the year 2014. Photo: Duccio Malagamba.

- Affordable housing - Urban planning - Complex assignments

They bring a wide array of skills to the job, including: - Thinking out-of-the-box - Pragmatic considerations in the process - Cost-aware - Investigative: seeking out innovative solutions and applications - Collaborating with various parties - Combining creativity with an entrepreneurial spirit

More on Dutch architecture From stepped gables to storm surge barriers, opera houses, hospitals, residential zones, villas and apartments. Since long ago until the present day, Dutch architecture demonstrates a wide variety of projects and styles, both domestically and internationally. Well-known Dutch architects include Rem Koolhaas (Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas), Gerrit Rietveld (Rietveld Schröderhuis, Utrecht), Herman Hertzberger (Ministry of Social Affairs and

Employment, The Hague), Wim Quist (Museon, The Hague) en H.P. Berlage (Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague).

Royal Dutch Architects BNA, the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects, is the sole professional association for Dutch architects. The goal of BNA is to stimulate the development of architecture and to support the practice of its members. Some 1,300 agencies are united in our sector association. BNA is a network promoting modern, creative entrepreneurship, inspired by the power of architecture with concern for society and the environment. The Institute received royal patronage in 1957. The 150th anniversary of our professional association was celebrated in 1992, and the royal patronage was prolonged for another 25 years in February 2012.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

ABOVE: The interior and exterior of the new cultural centre and library ‘Eemhuis’ in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. Photo: ScagliolaBrakkee © Neutelings Riedijk.

Identifiable in their commitment to public architecture When we speak of architecture it can be a challenge to understand its concepts of identity, place and community. Buildings so often emerge, taking their position in the cityscape, and the inhabitants are left questioning their role. Certainly one of their tasks is providing a function, but so too is their role as a cultural anchor – a fundamental quality according to Rotterdam-based Neutelings Riedijk Architects. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: NEUTELINGS RIEDIJK ARCHITECTS

As one of the firm’s three partners, Willem Jan Neutelings defines architecture’s primary role as shaping an identity, a task he believes is increasingly important given today’s drift towards “liquid identities”, a term coined by the renowned Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. What is implied, explains Neutelings, is our ever-growing anxiety and alienation from our immediate surroundings as we bury ourselves online and within gated communities. Much like the churches and town halls of bygone days, public buildings – such as libraries, theatres, community centres and schools – have the innate ability to bestow an identity upon a local community, allowing the residents to relate to it despite living in an

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increasingly globalised world. A firm believer in local pride, the Antwerp resident cites the example of the globally recognisable Eiffel Tower. “This is synonymous with Paris, symbolic even, giving its residents an identity. Yet such an identity isn’t necessarily pre-existing, and certainly doesn’t have to fit into preconceived ideas.” Instead, he continues, it is after its creation – when the residents develop a certain local pride in their building, showing it proudly to visitors and whiling away the hours there – that a building has really fulfilled its purpose. As part of the architectural studio behind Antwerp’s now iconic Museum Aan de Stroom, it is interesting to hear Neutelings’ musings on identity and architecture. “We

developed the idea of a tower for the MAS. Each box-like floor has been twisted a quarter-turn to create a huge spiral staircase, which doubles as a public gallery – essentially becoming an extension of the street, a public space within the building.” With a generous and pleasant outdoor area and free entry, the museum, which charts the city’s history alongside a number of temporary exhibitions (some of which charge admission), has rapidly become symbolic of the harbour city. While the striking stone and glass tower has been overwhelmingly well received by critics and the public (reaching over a million visitors in its first year alone), Neutelings Riedijk Architects look solely towards the

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

public’s response as a measure of their success. “As an Antwerp resident myself,” Neutelings says with a broad smile, “I think it’s wonderful when even my local butcher praises the building.”

Creating a focal point of local identity With public buildings at its core, the firm sees a need for its buildings to enter into a dialogue with their localities. They achieve this through their generous provision of natural lighting, expansive public spaces through galleries, escalators and staircases as well as their proficient and creative use of ornaments. “Today’s technology provides us with new, affordable, contemporary ways to create ornaments. Minimalism isn’t our style; our buildings are specific through their patterns. Often, these have a direct connection to their locality and traditions, other times we collaborate with artists.” In Antwerp, for example, the façade of MAS has been almost covered in a veil of handshaped ornaments, depicting the city’s now largely forgotten Coat of Arms. Made for the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision, the construction involved 2,000 unique coloured plates, portraying images from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Two other notable projects are a cultural centre and library in Arnhem, whose rosette-shaped ornaments immediately took on such significance that the building was dubbed the Rozet, and the recently opened Eemhuis in Amersfoort, a library,

RIGHT: Museum Aan de Stroom or MAS in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

museum and art school. Firmly committed to culture, education and community, both are active in their role as “social generators”. The Rozet is testament to this, with an unprecedented 700,000 visitors in its first year and book loans increasing by 20 per cent. Currently the firm is deep in developments for a 60,000m2 building for the Flemish Government in Brussels as well as for the reinvention of Leiden’s Natural History Museum. Knowing many school children will set foot inside the museum, whose construction begins in 2015, the firm is utilizing the structure as a further “expression of the world’s biodiversity”. With the old and the

new building totaling 48,000m2, visitors will traverse staggered floors like a mountain village, uncover fossils, discover ocean life and stand face-to-face with a life-size TRex dinosaur. While many consider contemporary society as online, it is in such community-centred buildings where the cross-sections of society merge, confront and integrate. “I live in a city where one million inhabitants share the city and its buildings,” concludes Neutelings. “These buildings become a community when we otherwise have so little in common.” Neutelings Riedijk Architects was founded in 1987 by Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk. It is committed to design excellence – realizing high quality architecture by developing powerful and innovative concepts into clear built form. Neutelings Riedijk Architects has established itself internationally as a leading practice specialising in complex projects for public, commercial and cultural buildings. The office has received awards such as the Golden Pyramid, the Belgian Building Award, the BNA-Cube and the Rotterdam Maaskant Prize and has been shortlisted for the Mies van der Rohe Award.

LEFT: Cultural centre ‘Rozet’ in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Photo: ScagliolaBrakkee © Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Versed in the architecture of a city Based in the Dutch capital, few architectural practices are as well versed as Rijnboutt in the city’s complexities. With an impressive back catalogue of iconic historical buildings that they have restored, renovated and revamped, their daily balancing act of marrying the old and the new is transforming Amsterdam into an even more desirable capital. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: RIJNBOUTT

But the company is by no means confined to city on the Amstel. As a long-standing multi-disciplinary practice with experts spanning the fields of architecture, urban planning, interior design, landscape architecture and monument preservation, Rijnboutt has established itself as one of the most proficient firms in the Netherlands. Its projects also include residential and public buildings but it is in glamorous city centres where it really excels. When confronted with a city centre retail or office-based commission, the firm is in no position to rely on a standard formula for its designs. Instead, as partners Bart van der Vossen and Frederik Vermeesch explain, their commissions often involve state-

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recognised historically important buildings so there are countless issues to resolve and innumerable participants who need to be taken into account.

Renovating a city’s monuments “The fact that Amsterdam is of such historical importance, with so many buildings that need to be preserved, gives us another dimension to consider. In addition to the local residents, there are historical organisations, local businesses and politicians to please,” explains Van der Vossen. However, having been active in this area for a number of years now, Rijnboutt has successfully built up a convincing reputation for its skills in this tricky balancing act.

Given their extensive experience with complex projects, the firm is confident when tackling culturally or historically significant sites, citing the renovation work undertaken to revamp Amsterdam’s Concertgebouwplein 20, the Bijenkorf department stores in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht and The Hague, as well as new buildings such as the ZARA and Marks & Spencer flagship stores in Amsterdam. “It can be the entire building, the area or even certain features that are protected and these have to be carefully managed,” explains Van der Vossen. Highlighting Amsterdam’s oldest district the Damrak, he explains the firm’s vision for the massive renovation work that they are performing

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

OPPOSITE PAGE: New commercial building at the Nieuwendijk. TOP LEFT: Renovated exterior of the national monument Concertgebouwplein 20. RIGHT: Transformation of the central hall inside the luxury office building at Concertgebouwplein 20. LEFT: Transformation of a shopping and office building at the Damrak. BELOW RIGHT: Lot P15 with an intense mix of office space, homes and amenities.

what makes the future of our cities so exciting,” he continues. With the contours of today’s shopping experience becoming even steeper, Rijnboutt recognises the demand for shops to keep pace. “You see more and more flagship stores; the shops are showrooms for the products, and customers are flocking there for the atmosphere – not necessarily for the shopping. Linking the myriad of shopping experiences with that of the historical city centre can be very rewarding.” with the New York-based Robert Stern Architects. The 21,000m2 former C&A headquarters are being transformed into the ultimate modern retail experience while still maintaining the historical ambiance. “Our ambition,” interjects Vermeesch, “is always to design a building that fits. While drawing in customers through the aesthetics of the architecture is vital in the retail world, balancing the pre-existing context with what you’re creating is key.” What emerges is the interesting notion of a balancing act, continues Van der Vossen. “Surrounded by history, the new builds have to stand in harmony. We want people to have the impression that the city’s DNA is untouched with the new buildings. That’s

An innovating look at office space With office buildings on the agenda, Vermeesch is back on the line. “Natural light couldn’t be more important in the Netherlands today. So with our renovation of Herengracht 595, now known as The Bank, a retail and restaurant complex with offices above, we had to focus on allowing light in. By building a spacious and airy atrium, we sacrificed floor space but in doing so we greatly enhanced the natural light bestowed on each office space.” The design has since been very well received, with many reputable establishments clamouring to claim ground floor space. It is also worth mentioning the historical building’s now glaringly green credentials, making it the city’s most

sustainable national monument with its own thermal storage for heating and cooling; highly efficient insulation; daylight-dependent lighting and automatic blinds. Spatially aware of the city, Rijnboutt is in an invaluable position for overseas investors looking to develop within Amsterdam. Armed with their collective experience of resolving building constraints, bureaucratic issues and winning over the city’s officials, they’ve experienced a rush of interest over the last few years from international developers who have recognised their unparalleled ability to hold open dialogues as part of the design process.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

KCAP creates beautiful and liveable urban environments. LEFT: Project HafenCity. Photo: Fotofrizz. TOP RIGHT: Project Red Apple. Photo: Michel Kievits. MIDDLE: Project NEO Brussels. Visual: KCAP. BOTTOM RIGHT: Project Tower Striga 1 Antwerpen. Visual: KCAP.


Living in coherent, green cities with all amenities around the corner and with work only a short commute away – sounds like a dream? Creating liveable urban environments like these are what KCAP Architects&Planners have been pursuing for 25 years. “City life is becoming more popular and the number of cities in the world is rising. At the same time, cities are becoming more compact and complex. This asks for a new way of building and an integral approach to urban planning, architecture, infrastructure and sustainability,” explains KCAP partner Han van den Born. For its projects, KCAP works on the border between architecture and urbanism while integrating scientific research on the future of cities.

HafenCity: new urban district Over the last two decades architecture and city planning have become increasingly internationalised. This is reflected in KCAP’s

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portfolio, which contains many interesting projects throughout Europe, Russia and Asia. One of them is ‘HafenCity’, the redevelopment of the former port in Hamburg. In 1999 KCAP, in collaboration with ASTOC, won the competition to transform this area into a vibrant urban city district. Now, ten years since its implementation, HafenCity is already presenting a metropolitan mix of housing, culture, tourism, leisure and business and is set to become a flourishing urban district by 2025.

Mixing functions On an urban level as well as within a building itself, mix of uses is essential for the quality of KCAP’s environments. The Red Apple in Rotterdam is only one example. This inner-city high-rise is a varied complex of 231 apartments, office spaces and retail on Rotterdam’s Wijnhaven island. The recently finished adjacent hotel, also designed by KCAP, completes the mixed use ensemble as a cornerstone of the dynamic urban transformation model KCAP

developed to revitalise the old mono-functional office environment.

A winning formula Recently, after KCAP won several competitions, it was given assignments to create a sustainable residential tower Striga 1 in Antwerp, design an RER E train station in Nanterre in France and plan the Science City Garching campus masterplan in Munich, Germany. Also, KCAP is working on projects such as NEO Brussels, FredericiaC in Denmark, various largescale projects in China and Russia and structural urban visions for different leading European airports and station areas. Those and many more add to KCAP’s diverse and international portfolio that has built up since its founding in 1989 by Kees Christiaanse. Today, KCAP works from offices in Rotterdam, Zurich and Shanghai.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

TOP: Rotterdam’s iconic Erasmusbrug. Photo: Christian Richters. LEFT: The façade of Galleria Centercity department store, Korea. Photo: Kim Yong-Kwan. MIDDLE: Theatre de Stoep, Spijkenisse. Photo: Peter Guenzel. RIGHT: Galleria Centercity. Photo: Christian Richters. BELOW RIGHT: Haus am Weinberg, Stuttgart Germany. Photo: Iwan Baan.

Innovation through organisation TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: UNSTUDIO

Optimal organisation – that is key for every UNStudio project. This starts with the client, what kind of company or person they are and how they are organised. Next, it focuses on the project itself, how the space and functions can be organised as efficiently as possible. “If the programmatic organisation of a project is done well, then you create much more spatial efficiency and achieve a higher quality of design. We do in-depth research into how a building should be organised and use state-of-the-art technologies like digital 3D visualisation to optimise it even more,” explains Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect of UNStudio. Optimal organisation is also a phrase that applies to UNStudio itself. “The more organised I am myself the more efficiently I can work and the more time I have to focus on the design,” continues Van Berkel. Together with Caroline Bos he set up the architecture stu-

dio in 1988. The name, UNStudio, stands for United Network Studio, referring to its collaborative nature of working. The studio specialises in architecture, urban development and infrastructure across the world. From a project creating metro stations in Qatar to museums to hotels and housing combinations to interior design, needless to say UNStudio is talented in many areas. To date it has completed projects in over 35 countries and currently has a team of 150 people. Apart from Amsterdam, it also has two offices in Asia, one in Shanghai and the other in Hong Kong. First established in 2009, the Shanghai office has now grown to a full-service design office with a multinational team of all-round and specialist architects. “We are one of the few Western architecture companies that are actually registered in China, which has helped us to attract major projects,” Van Berkel says proudly.

aims to resolve contemporary societal questions through architecture. “A building has to be more than a structure; it has to have several layers so it enriches the location and its users,” Van Berkel says. One example is the Theatre de Stoep in Spijkenisse, designed by the studio. In addition to the traditional main hall, it is designed to accommodate all types of events throughout the building, “from conferences to experimental performances, it is a centre for entertainment in the very broadest sense of the word,” Van Berkel adds.

With the help of innovative techniques and incorporating cultural qualities, UNStudio

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The 22nd century metropolis Architecture connects. Both in the most literal sense of the word – bridges that join two places together – and in a more abstract sense, encouraging people to hear, see and meet each other. With modern urbanisation being characterised by increasing social and spatial fragmentation, one company, NEXT architects, is trying to bring separated worlds back together. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: NEXT ARCHITECTS

Take their renovation of the Uilenstede student campus in Amsterdam. The original buildings from the ’70s were large, isolated blocks of flats that didn’t create a sense of community. The area had to be revitalized without resorting to entirely destroying and rebuilding it. “We specialise in projects where the solution isn’t immediately clear, we like having to solve an architectural puzzle,” says Marijn Schenk, founding member and partner at NEXT architects. At Uilenstede, NEXT built on what was already there and found a way to add extra functions like a supermarket, restaurant and commercial space. “Breaking open the flats would help us achieve this,” he continues. “We made four separate ele-

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ments from one large single building and added transparent glass structures to promote openness. The renovation made the campus a better-organised, lively, studentfriendly outdoor space.”

The NEXT way of working For NEXT architects, connectivity is paramount. Their portfolio ranges from chairs to city masterplans but – not surprisingly – also counts a large number of bridges and infrastructure projects. “Working on very wide-ranging projects makes us look at each project from different perspectives. We have an investigative way of working – for us, form isn’t the most important, it’s about what it does and the idea behind it that counts,” Schenk explains.

The Dutch company was set up at the end of 1999 by Schenk and three fellow architecture graduates. Before opening their Amsterdam office, they went on a global journey to capture the image of the metropolis in the eclipse of the century. “This trip helped us to create a network and taught us about the current state of affairs in our profession. It was also an attempt to map the phenomenon of rapid urbanization and its social and spatial implications. Doing research like this helps us to come up with effective strategies,” says Schenk.

A never-ending bridge In 2004 NEXT architects branched out to China for a project, and shortly afterwards they set up a second fully-fledged office in Beijing. While both locations work inde-

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LEFT AND ABOVE: The unique cross-diagonal design of the Melkwegbrug in Purmerend united the old and the new city centres. MIDDLE AND RIGHT: Redesign of the historic office buildings for advertising company Wieden + Kennedy.

pendently, they join forces for big and special projects. For example in a competition to create an innovative pedestrian bridge for a new district in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, NEXT architects won with their futuristic bridge design whose shape is inspired by a never-ending Mobius ring. “The Dragon King Harbour River Bridge is the key project for the area. The bridge will become an icon on the recreational and touristic route along the river. The shape also refers to a Chinese knot, coming from an ancient decorative Chinese folk art,” Schenk says. “Recently the Huffington Post mentioned this design as the architecture of tomorrow.”

ing was a labyrinth with no vertical connections,” remembers Schenk. To encourage the creativity of the company, NEXT architects decided to open up both buildings in order to create a communal beating heart for the organisation. “We were allowed to do so because old drawings from the city’s archives indicated there used to be an open courtyard area at the back – so in a sense we incorporated something of the buildings’ original state. We inserted three glass shafts that cut through the length of the building and created double-high spaces that connect to every other floor. The spaces are used as presentation and meeting facilities and allows for a tremendous amount of transparency without loss of useful floor space,” Schenk says.

Historically futuristic buildings For the redesign of the offices for Wieden + Kennedy advertising company, NEXT architects was tasked to create a coherent work environment out of two historic houses with protected status along the Amsterdam Herengracht canal. “The old build-

Two areas united In Purmerend, two adjacent neighbourhoods were cut off from each other by a canal dividing the old, historic district from the new city centre. Instead of creating a simple bridge, NEXT architects incorporated a meet-

ing and lookout point for pedestrians and cyclists. “The Melkwegbrug does much more than getting you from one side to the other – it’s a place where people meet and connect, it becomes a destination” says Schenk. The unique cross-diagonal construction of the two-level bridge specially caters for cyclists and wheelchair users as it avoids a steep climb. Schenk: “To stay within the required maximum inclination levels of three per cent, we needed a length of 100 metres. A straight crossing would have been very disruptive to the area and needed long lead up roads.” Delivered in 2012, the eye-catching design has become the central point of a united area where old and new are brought together. Schenk adds, “It also invigorated the canal banks with new commercial space. The bridge has brought the whole area back to life.”

LEFT: The Uilenstede student campus in Amsterdam. MIDDLE AND RIGHT: Dragon King Harbour River Bridge in China.

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In balance with the landscape At architecture agency Kraaijvanger, they are not afraid of Mother Nature. Instead of battling the elements with roofs, walls and barriers, their constructions are often open and inviting and work together with the surroundings. Using state-of-the-art technologies, they incorporate a project’s context and integrate natural light and clean energy sources without compromising on form or function. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: KRAAIJVANGER

“In fact, we go one step beyond that,” says Dirk Jan Postel, one of the partners at Kraaijvanger. “It’s called ‘zero energy architecture’. We’ve already proved it’s possible to deliver a project that is energy neutral in the Netherlands and Spain and we are now working hard to show it can be done anywhere in the world.”

A building that educates One such project is the United World Campus, a concept design for a primary and secondary school for international students situated in the scorching heat of the Gulf States. Postel explains, “We wanted to get rid of those horrible, energy gorging aircos, but it proved to be quite a challenge. We solved it by using energy generating

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solar panels that double as a roof to create shade in the courtyard area outside. Inside the rooms we adopted a system called adiabatic cooling. Here the pressure of hot water vapours can actually keep the rooms cool.”

Postel is convinced this type of architecture will become the norm in the future. “Depending on investments and how fast things move, I expect that within seven to ten years, the majority of new builds will be energy neutral.”

Apart from a wonderful piece of ingenuity that embraces a zero energy model, the United World Campus is much more. The design doubles as a point of education and a method to make people more aware of their carbon footprint. “The way energy is generated by the design or how water is recycled and re-used, will all be visible in the structure. This teaches students about things like chemistry and sustainability,” Postel explains.

A carpenter’s mind-set The company’s foundations started with B. Th. Kraaijvanger who set up a humble carpenter business in the mid-1890s in Rotterdam. His two sons, Evert and Herman took on the business and established Kraaijvanger as an architecture agency in 1927 and kept their father’s carpenter mind-set. Even today, Kraaijvanger remains focussed on use of material and the detail of the finish.

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grated in the frame of the roof, will gradually light up. At present, this concept is unique in the world.”

ABOVE: The Dutch ambassador’s residence in Beijing – the floor-to-ceiling windows create openness, while a granite wall at the front guarantees privacy. MAIN PHOTO AND BELOW RIGHT: The United World Campus concept design for an energy neutral school.

How these roots still resonate in the present is easy to see. For the Dutch ambassador’s residence in Beijing, delivered just ahead of the 2008 Olympics, there was a special focus on materials and functionality within the setting. “On the site there were these magnificent trees,” recalls Postel. “To make this part of the design, we created an open structure with large windows all around the building. A tall granite wall at the front of the property guarantees absolute privacy, but you feel part of the terrain.” The building is split into two adjacent wings, the private, intimate living quarters of the ambassador and the public Dutch embassy building, each looking out over a different part of the garden.

parent roof that reflects natural light inward. “Visitors will notice when a cloud drifts past so they really experience the surroundings while being inside. When it starts to get dark, at night or in the winter, small LED lights that are invisibly inte-

Kraaijvanger has a drive for including fresh ideas from young architects, especially regarding sustainability. Next year it will move into a new office, right in the heard of Rotterdam. As part of this, Postel and his fellow partners will launch weekly open workshops on Fridays. The sessions, free of charge, will start off on 9 January 2015. Postel concludes, “Anyone can come and join us and ask questions about architecture and experts from within the field will answer them – how great is that?”

Innovation and functionality Also closer to home, Kraaijvanger uses innovative techniques to bring their projects to life. When finished, the new Voorlinden Museum in Wassenaar will house the country’s largest private art collection against the beautiful backdrop of the Dutch dunes. The pioneering design was perfected down to the smallest detail and incorporates the setting in an advanced way. Postel says, “It’s going to be one of the most sophisticated museums anywhere in the world. We’ve made sure that everything redundant will be invisible or integrated into the building. Take for example those disturbing fire exit signs; we’ll make them from matted white glass so they don’t distract. When you do need them – in case of a fire – green lights will switch on so they become visible.” Postel began working on the design in 2010 and the construction of the lower floor has just started. When the building is completed in 2016, it will have a trans-

ABOVE: The final look of the new, sophisticated Voorlinden Museum in Wassenaar.

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Transformation is an art “Our architecture is contemporary without following the current trends. Young and old must be able to recognize and identify with the environment. There must be something familiar, but also stir emotions and fascinate people,” says Liesbeth van der Pol, architect and co-owner of Dok Architecten. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: ARJEN SCHMITZ

Their architecture is always tailor-made, and the buildings can be reserved and minimalist, but also expressive and lavish. Van der Pol: “For each project we create a special team, consisting of a group of people who have a lot of knowledge and experience, including young people with a fresh perspective on architecture. The team is complemented by construction engineers, project managers and designers. Every project is unique and requires its own interpretation.” The office is a studio, an open space where everybody works. According to Van der Pol it enhances communication. “We are very well attuned to

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each other. It’s the ideal surroundings for merging creativity and professionalism.”

The art of transformation The functions of buildings change all the time, and because of that as well as modernisation, a building needs to be completely updated and revisited. It must be functional for the new uses, but preserve the historical structure or site. Dok Architecten have a very special interest in these kinds of transformations. “Transformations are really an art. A location gets a new life. For example, we have given the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam a complete make-

over. The building is from the 17th century, and originally created as a warehouse – a great location, but utterly unsuitable for a museum.” The design became a mix between the original, 17th century design – open and transparent – and the best modern techniques and uses for the museum. “We also had a lot of fun, redeveloping an ’80s mall in Nieuwegein. Is was an outdated building, and poorly maintained. We have transformed the place into a new mall; a great place to do business, to visit and meet people.” There are many more, similar concrete sites from the ’80s. Van

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Dok Architecten create contemporary designs without following current trends. MAIN PHOTO: Scheepvaartmuseum. TOP CENTRE: Lex van Deldednbrug. MIDDLE CENTRE: Mediatheek Delft. BOTTOM CENTRE: Noordpoort. TOP RIGHT: Stadskwartier Nieuwegein.

Architecture touches people, invokes emotions and changes feelings.” Van der Pol thinks that the connection to the environment is very important for the design. “What is already there? Not only the site we are designing for, but also the neighbourhood. It is very important to take a good look and listen very well. No building or place has just one function. Therefore the design must add these different functions. It must be liveable 24/7 for different uses. By looking and listening carefully, we can design a building which complements everything in and around it.”


der Pol gives it its own signature. “In Delft we created a multimedia library in a typical ’80s, concrete office. The library has become a vibrant place to meet and work together. The concrete seems to be a limitation, but it is the limitation that makes it more interesting.”

Look and listen Trends in architecture are not so interesting for Van der Pol. “Architecture exists so we can create beautiful things. We are friendly intruders into what the mainstream world wants. A building is not ‘just a stack of bricks’, that would make it emotionless.

Dok Architecten always uses sustainable materials and seeks out sustainable solutions. An example of this is the design for a school in Amsterdam, which has been entirely constructed in timber from sustainable forestry. Van der Pol: “We have to take care of what we have. Together with everyone involved we seek solutions that are climate friendly as well as energy efficient. These are things like climate control within the building, buffer zones between climates, and short warm-up times.”

It connected two neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, which were previously divided by water. Not only were they physically divided, also mentally. We wanted to connect these neighbourhoods, and so we created a public square as a bridge.” Van der Pol feels that the new connection and improved surroundings also help the liveability of the neighbourhoods. “It became a place to meet each other, it connected the two areas.”

The DOK 100 Next year, Dok Architecten will finalise its 100th completed project. A remarkable number states Van der Pol, “The economic climate nowadays is not easy. The projects may be smaller, but there will always be interest and time for unique projects, of which we are very proud.”

Van der Pol also thinks that a good climate improves the social heart of a building or location. “For example, we’ve created a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Exporting Dutch liveability LEVS takes their Dutch expertise on good urban living environments across European borders, to Russia as well as to several countries in Africa.“With the rapid changes in economic and social structure we notice a great demand for better living environments and a higher quality of housing in these countries, though the context and conditions are varied. The expertise we gathered in the Netherlands is of great value when we design for our clients abroad,” explains cofounder Marianne Loof. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: LEVS

The Netherlands has a long tradition of creating good living environments. Loof: “Over the centuries the Dutch have developed a unique expertise in creating pleasant and balanced urban areas in the Netherlands for all layers of society, combining high density with low- and mid-rise housing, both in urban as well as suburban densities.” That is quite different in Russia for example, where many people still live in houses that were built during the communist period. “There is a huge demand for better housing in living areas with a higher spatial and architectural quality,” says Loof.

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LEVS is currently working on several plans and housing projects in the city of Jekaterinburg, located in the middle of the Ural region. With a strong background in Dutch urbanism and housing, LEVS knows how to create a well-thought-out living environment. Loof continues: “Having 25 years of experience within this Dutch tradition, we can add to the quickly growing cities outside of Europe.”

Social cohesion Both big and small scale designs are important when creating a housing area. “For

strong spatial planning, sustainability is an important factor when it comes to creating a living environment with a social cohesion in which people feel safe,” says Loof. You might think people create the social cohesion in their quarter themselves, but architecture and housing area design are actually very important contributing factors. Loof: “The key to creating a good living environment is a combination of different aspects on different scales, like sustainable urban layout, good public space and strong architecture. This means for example many entrances on street level, a view

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OPPOSITE PAGE: Alexander pond in Russia. TOP LEFT: Sukhodolskaya in Russia. LEFT: The Palace Quarter, the Netherlands. RIGHT: The Field of Lions, the Netherlands.

over the public place by placing windows and outdoor areas in a strategic location. Liveliness is added as well by combining functions like shopping and housing, which results in movement during both day and night. Otherwise it is not a social environment but a living factory: a place where you arrive, park your car and enter your house without seeing anyone. Instead, we aim for a sustainable environment that supports the start and growth of communities.”

Building with earth The expertise on building living areas is something LEVS exports, but they are definitely not copying the Dutch projects abroad. “It is important to focus on the needs of the client and to take their culture into account. Our attitude towards foreign clients is not any different; we still want to know what they are looking for. The result is different though,” explains Loof. In Mali, Africa, LEVS has taken on a surprising, yet logical, approach. Loof: “They have minimal means. We used traditional ways of building, so we did not have to import metal for roofs, or concrete. We used the naturally available materials, and turned it into a compressed block of soil with a machine that was developed in the Netherlands.” The blocks it produces are much stronger than the ones the locals used to make themselves. “With these com-

pressed earth blocks, their homes and schools will not be destroyed by floods every year. And by constructing curved roofs with these blocks, we create a cool climate inside and a beautiful building at the same time.” The best thing about this way of working is the social effect that results from it. Loof: “A technical school is being built with this machine. The masonry students learn how to work with it, so they learn a profession at the same time.” These blocks are not the only recipe for a sustainable future in Africa though. “We support them not only by showing them how to build their own homes and schools, but also by creating a

sustainable living environment and combining their local knowledge with our techniques.” This adds to the circular economy: the more schools can be built the more children can be educated. This way they can share their knowledge with the local community, which in the end leads to a sustainable future and living environment. Loof: “That is what you want to look back on at the end of your life: to have contributed to a better and more beautiful world.”

The technical school in Mali, Africa.

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The communicative interior There is a change going on. People are working differently. The days of the typical office floor are over. People work where they want to – a nice place in the building, around it or up in town. “The office turns into a working environment and starts to integrate with the living environment. So why not look for the same attractions?” says Casper Schwarz, interior architect and founder of C4ID. “I guide my clients in their need for a communicative design in which people can work, explore, interact and feel at their best to take responsibility for their jobs.” TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: C4ID

With great interest Casper watches the younger generation’s working methods. It is obvious that these are changing; it no longer matters when or where you work, as long as you do the job. “Even the relationships within companies are changing. Hierarchy is losing territory, humanity is growing stronger. Status is not that important, be yourself and know your skills and talents.” As a result of this the office interiors evolve into environments where people can choose and use the spaces and facilities as they like. Casper: “Office is an old-fashioned word: corporate, greyish and dreary; a working environment is inspiring, social, open and spacious.”

Communicative interiors An interior should help the people to use the full potential of a building. Casper says:

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“It is easier to collaborate and to use each other’s knowledge and connections if you are not stuck in one place.” Technical functions must work properly: ICT has to be well thought out and operating smoothly, the networks must be accessible everywhere and people’s devices need to be mobile to really feel free. In general space can be divided into three zones; a quiet area, an informal area furnished for interaction, and a regular working area. Casper: “If you really need to concentrate you can join the quiet area. If you want to make a phone call or talk to colleagues, you naturally go elsewhere. Transparency is crucial. You should be able to see your colleagues when they are in. Glass walls do not only create spaciousness and light, but also togetherness and

efficiency,” says Casper, “If you are in a meeting, but visible, your colleagues know you are around but not available. If you are not visible they start searching for you.”

Alphen aan den Rijn town hall One of the latest examples of a communicative interior is C4ID’s design for the town hall of Alphen aan den Rijn. This Dutch municipality recently merged with two other municipalities and as a result they needed workspace for 300 extra people. Casper: “The municipality applied ‘flex working’ to their office for the last ten years. But the result was poor; people stuck to their desks and there was not much interaction going on. After intensive teamwork with the managers and a group of employees we have created an interior as a total package.

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MAIN PHOTO: The interior is inviting its users constantly to use the whole space instead of just one spot. ABOVE: The Work Café is an extra venue to promote crosslinking within the organization. LEFT: Traffic zones are furbished for informal meeting and more social cohesion.

ment. That is not only communicative, it is also speeding up the processes. People really do work everywhere.”

C4ID C4ID stands for ‘Creative, Communicative, Cooperative and Consistent Interior Design’. The company is an open and constantly innovating network of creative professionals. Casper: “I’m the backbone of the designing process and communication with the clients. My team members assure me we’ll always come up with a wide “We invited everyone to let go of their personal spot and in return they got a whole building. We used the organic shape of the building to create natural routes and meeting locations, we integrated left over spaces in the total functional set-up and we made sure that each function was inviting to use, well equipped and well balanced in terms of materials, colours and acoustics. Plus we added a ‘Work Café’, with the look and feel of a café in the town.” As a result, people went less outside and made fewer reservations for meeting rooms. Some people choose to work there often. Casper took notice of something else, too: “Many work consultations happen at the coffee machine. So we added an XL touchscreen next to it on which people can pop-up their project or document instantly, instead of making an appoint-

variety of ideas, solutions and new thoughts. We work in full 3D and we always make sure our clients really understand what they choose. It is an interesting time to be a designer.” Other current projects of C4ID include Nauta Dutilh International Law in Amsterdam, Lebara Mobile in London, Dutch Statistics in The Hague and the town hall of Purmerend. BELOW: Freedom of choice in the location and type of furniture you want to use on every location. LEFT: Materials, colours and patterns are selected with care to create a lively and attractive working environment.

Casper Schwarz, interior architect and founder of C4ID

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Maximize The way Orange Architects emerged is particularly significant: three Dutch architects Jeroen Schipper, Michiel Hofman and Patrick Meijers met at an exhibition in Shanghai. They were all there for a potential assignment. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: ORANGE ARCHITECTS

The remarkable meeting led them to a collective design for three luxury villas in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. After visiting the Middle East, they joined forces under the name of Orange Architects and obtained the exciting commission to design a luxurious apartment complex in Beirut; a project which became famous even before its completion.

Maximize Maximize is a word they often use and a term they apply to almost everything. Orange Architects uses the concept ‘maximize’ for creativity, synergy, knowledge, experience and partnership. Each client – and thus each project – gets their own ‘maximize’ terms. “Maximize means that we literally maximize all the potentials of a project; we maximize the clients demands, maximize user satisfaction, maximize design, maximize craftsmanship, maximize quality and maximize exposure creating top sales,”

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says Michiel Hofman. According to the three architects, you need to listen to be creative. Having a good, sustainable relationship with their clients is therefore vital. Patrick Meijers: “We work purely on the content and without pressure. We want to add value.”

The Cube Orange Architects’ first assignment almost immediately became famous: The Cube. To illustrate the success of The Cube, HofThe Cube

man explains, “I visited a charming Lebanese restaurant in a small village in France. I got into a conversation with the owner, telling him about my latest visit to Beirut for the realization of The Cube. The man shouted ‘The Cube!’ He was thrilled and explained that every Lebanese knows about The Cube. The entire city sees The Cube, and The Cube sees the whole city.” A remarkable fact since The Cube will be completed around March 2015.

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Russian residential towers are often very alike but the ‘Sadovy Rayon’ project in Cheboksary by Orange Architects has a unique and sculptural façade.

The Cube will be a luxurious apartment block at the east of Beirut, Lebanon. The concept for this project is simple, but extraordinarily effective. In this project ‘maximize’ means: making optimal use of the site’s potential, the local building codes and the fantastic views over Beirut and the Mediterranean; maximum height (50 metres or 164 feet); and the view from each apartment will be optimised. The design is striking, yet it fits within the city of Beirut. Orange Architects designed the project in its urban environment, with local techniques and materials. Jeroen Schipper: “The client was so satisfied with the design, he immediately bought three apartments for his children.”

Sadovy Rayon A great example of using local materials and techniques is the second project: the ‘Sadovy Rayon’ project in Cheboksary, Russia. Orange Architects was asked to create a residential complex with shopping facilities. The use of pre-cast concrete panels from the local factory was a must.

shifted and turned the plates, leaving gaps between the walls. Those gaps became bay windows, divided balconies and rooms; all by using the pre-cast panels in a different and unique way.” By rotating the standard concrete panels the apartment building transforms into a slim triangular tower with a unique and sculptural façade. The Russian residential towers are often very alike; square, which results in views into the neighbour’s apartment. The four residential towers designed by Orange Architects are triangular shaped, and rotated in relation to each other to maximize the view. The surrounding park runs over the shopping promenade and provides access to the residential towers. “The towers are triangular, as is the client’s company logo. We added a helipad with his company’s logo,” says Schipper.

Orange Architects is an energetic, open minded and positive company. The team consists of approximately thirty partners. They have all the people they need for delivering great strength, and if they don’t, they find them. Like the two Russian employees who deal with the sometimes complex Russian building regulations. Hofman: “We have a great team of energetic and experienced architects and interior designers. Together, we have the knowledge for all kinds of projects. It truly is a great pleasure working with so many talented people around us.” Meijers: “It does not feel like working anymore.” Schipper: “Key point of Orange Architects is ‘maximize’, it drives our team to create successful designs. We maximize our clients’ satisfaction.”

Jeroen Schipper, Michiel Hofman and Patrick Meijers.

Schipper: “By reviewing the factory potential we proposed an even more simple construction method for the concrete panels they produce. Normally they make pre-cast rectangular panels with holes in them, for the windows. We proposed they create panels without these holes. We

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The physics of design Set up out of a desire to change the architectural landscape to create smarter, more energy efficient buildings, BKVV is taking the Netherlands and abroad by storm. The agency, Blok Kats van Veen Architects, specialises in self-sufficient architecture that is both technologically advanced and affordable. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BKVV, JEROEN MUSCH, HENNIE RAAYMAKERS AND MAISSA

The recently completed bridge operation centre in Alphen aan den Rijn perfectly shows BKVV’s approach to architecture. Thirty different bridges are remotely operated from the centre, taking up a lot of energy on a daily basis. “It devours electricity, which also produces a lot of heat from the computers,” says Robert van Kats, BKVV co-founder and partner. “We’ve designed the centre so it uses this heat for cooling the building in summer and warming it up in winter. The windows take in a lot of natural light but prevent sunlight from warming things up too much and there are solar panels on the roof.”

well as city masterplans. It stands for creating comfortable structures with an extremely low energy demand and a high level of self-sufficiency. BKVV has a strong emphasis on using physics to integrate their architecture with engineering, economics, culture and climate. Van Kats adds: “The Netherlands is relatively conservative when it comes to construction and we aim to go above and beyond the current requirements. We try to produce contemporary architecture and urban development for the most sustainable and liveable cities of the future.”

BKVV coined a name for this method of working: ‘spatial energy design’, and applies the method to individual buildings as


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BKVV took this concept to create a new type of house called ‘Lofthome’. The build-

ings have a strong, fast-to-build steel construction that also sidesteps the need for support walls. Van Kats says: “You get one large space which you can fill in according to your individual needs, so every Lofthome is unique. They take just three months to build – half the time of a brick-and-mortar house – and the price is very competitive. Furthermore it is very energy efficient too.” Since the construction of the first Lofthome in 2011, twenty more have been built in the Netherlands. “Apart from standard catalogue houses or expensive designer homes by architects there is not a lot of choice. The Lofthome has the best of both, affordable yet customisable,” says Van Kats. Apart from homes, the Lofthome concept has

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MAIN PHOTO AND LEFT: The bridge control centre in Alphen aan den Rijn is highly energy efficient. Photo: Jeroen Musch. RIGHT: The Lofthome concept bridges the gap between standard catalogue homes and houses designed by architects. Photo: Hennie Raaymakers. BELOW: The student campus in Gabon is a collaboration between BKVV and a local architect. Visualisations: BKVV and Maissa.

also been used by other organisations including the Dutch government which commissioned a Lofthome for a visitors’ centre in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve.

DASUDA The powerful designs by BKVV reach far beyond the Dutch borders. Through its membership of DASUDA, the company is now also working in several African countries. The network, or Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa in full, is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and serves as a solutions platform to help cities in Africa develop. It combines Dutch and local knowledge to create more sustainable architecture through a multidisciplinary approach. The first project BKVV did in Africa was creating a student campus in Gabon. Working together with a local architect, they made sure the campus was self-sufficient to prevent the loss of electricity in case of a power blackout in the central energy supply. “We had to step away from a European way of working. The campus had to be as energy efficient as possible so we were forced to build in a much smarter way,” says Van Kats. With the use of

physics he looked at how to minimize energy use and energy loss while also designing a pleasant, comfortable structure. “We really enjoyed working on the Gabon project, especially the collaboration with the local client,” says Van Kats. “It taught us to be flexible; working in African countries can be very complex, from project financing to government regulations.” After this project, BKVV was eager to do more work in Africa and became part of DASUDA. “While we did the Gabon project, we got many questions from locals that didn’t relate to our field directly; ‘can you also look at our traffic issue?’, or ‘can you fix our housing problem?’. We heard our Dutch colleagues got the same questions so we wanted to address these big-

ger urban problems,” explains Van Kats. Through DASUDA he realised that a lot of knowledge to resolve these issues was already present locally but a platform was needed to bring this together and develop it further. Van Kats: “Take the city of Lagos, Nigeria; it grows by 40 people per hour, so it is important to start addressing these issues immediately.” Van Kats now does almost a third of his work across Africa including projects in Cape Town, South Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, in Lagos, Nigeria and Kumasi, Ghana.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Full of character Buildings that exceed user needs and ambitions and will last more than a lifetime: GROUP A has the expertise to design this for you. From full exteriors to the smallest interior detail. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | MAIN PHOTO: SCAGLIOLA BRAKKEE

“We think buildings should be full of character,” explains co-founder Maarten van Bremen; “history has taught us that characteristic buildings are the ones in which people are interested. Just think of historic postal offices and factories. Those buildings are appealing. We aim for the same kind of character in our projects.” In their designs, Van Bremen, his two partners Folkert van Hagen and Adam Visser, as well as their team of professionals, take on a holistic approach. This is visible in the way they design, work and build. “We work together as a team, both internally with everyone at GROUP A, as well as with our clients,” says Van Hagen. “We want to improve our built environment by doing the best we can in our field of expertise, pro-

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ducing the best possible and sustainable designs and being closely involved with the building process. Synergy is key to this process.”

BP Rotterdam Refinery offices On the website of GROUP A, the most beautiful designs catch your eye. Take for example the project BP Rotterdam Refinery offices. This project won the public award Rotterdam Architectuurprijs 2011 and was nominated for the Daylight Award 2012. It was the aim of GROUP A to design a building that provided a safe, sustainable and healthy working environment for the staff. Located next to the motorway and a canal, the dune shaped building reflects the curve of the motorway and blends in perfectly with its surroundings. In-

side the building, spaces flow into one another as well, which is also characteristic of GROUP A’s approach of design. Van Hagen: “Space planning is a vital part of our design. Crowded areas are clustered. It would for example not make sense to plan a well-attended meeting room next to a room for concentrated tasks, just like you would not locate a café in a quiet backstreet. It has to blend in.” This approach is visible in the offices of BP Rotterdam Refinery: an organising atrium space is cut out from the manmade dune and meetings take place in box-shaped volumes, pushed into the atrium as 'sky-boxes'. It does not only look beautiful, the building is also a safe place for people to work in: it offers protection against a possible explosion in the next door refinery.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors LEFT: The BP Rotterdam Refinery offices exterior blends in with their environment. TOP RIGHT: The atrium is cut out from the manmade dune. Photo: Roos Aldershoff. RIGHT: meetings take place in box-shaped volumes like 'sky-boxes'. Photo: Scagliola Brakkee.

Booster Station

Photo: Digidaan

It is of great importance when designing to consider the human senses. Van Bremen: “For example, the acoustics are very important. In an office environment, sounds should not echo. In a cathedral they should. And if you use sleek materials, you should be aware of the physical effects they have on the users.”

Sleek materials are perfect for another beautiful and totally different building GROUP A designed: the Booster StationSouth. A public utility building which covers a technical installation: a pump-engine for sluicing out sewage. This does not sound too charming, but GROUP A might just have turned this Booster Station into the first sewage utility building that people will actually admire when they pass by. It is located at a busy traffic junction, yet the area is a no man’s land that is structured by a layered infrastructural network where elevated metro lines, railways, roads and highways intersect and where passengers by car, metro, train or bicycle pass by. It is a perfect place for a closed futuristic architectonic piece of art that reflects the movements, shapes and colours of the environment. At the same time it shows its function: the incoming and outgoing ducts are revealed and at night the building’s tectonics come to the surface. The illuminated seams in the steel skin make the pump-engine look like a mesh-model. This building matches the vision of GROUP A completely: it is full of character, specifically designed for its user and purpose, and fits in with its surroundings perfectly. Knowing all this, it can hardly be a surprise that GROUP A has almost twenty years of experience in design at different levels of

city design. In this time they have been nominated for architecture awards, won design prizes and created numerous beautiful and leading buildings, many of which you unknowingly might have seen while travelling through the Netherlands.

The Booster Station South. Photo: Dick Sellenraad

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Rotterdam Centraal, railway terminal Rotterdam (2014) by Team CS (a cooperation between MVSA Architects, Benthem Crouwel Architects and West 8). Photo: Jannes Linders

“We are curious what tomorrow will bring” Rotterdam Central Station, New Babylon and the Haga Hospital in The Hague are just a few of many innovative designs by renowned MVSA Architects. Thirty years have come and gone since they built their first project. Time to take a look behind the scenes and see what drives and strives the agency, and one man in particular: Roberto Meyer. TEXT: SILVIA DE VRIES | PHOTOS: MVSA ARCHITECTS

A lot has changed in the past three decades, in the world in general and in the design world in particular. Meyer, lead architect and executive director of MVSA Architects, explains: “Our society is not the same as it was thirty years ago. We started our agency in the 80s, the decade of social housing. Followed by the 90s, characterized by over-design. The sky was often the limit.” Today architecture is marked by many different themes such as sustainability and socially responsible entrepreneurship. How to deal with a world in which change is the only constant? An open mind-set is key, says Meyer. “Be innovative, inventive and maintain a positive attitude. These are

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things we strive for within our agency daily. We are curious what tomorrow will bring.” This curious and inventive attitude is reflected in the buildings MVSA Architects designs. From the new Rotterdam Central Station (designed by Team CS a cooperation between MVSA Architects, Benthem Crouwel Architects and West 8) to Shoebaloo stores and the Haga Hospital, the array of projects created is a diverse one, both in style and implementation. This is not always a conscious choice: “sometimes it is just a matter of what comes our way,” explains Meyer. “Like designing the Haga Hospital, we never tackled a project like that before. It allowed us to look at it with fresh eyes. We were not restricted in

our designs by preconceived notions of what the end result should look like. This mind-set served us well and both parties benefited from it.” Transparency is one of the elements in many MVSA designs, yet it is not always key. It’s the visual and actual interaction that matters most to Meyer and the agency, whatever shape or form this may take. “In some designs we deliberately choose to forgo transparency. As in the case of the Shoebaloo stores, where reflective glass makes it impossible to look into the shop from outside, and where a certain way of lighting the shoes makes them appear to hover in the windows.”

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

TOP LEFT: ING House, Amsterdam (2002). Photo: Georges Fessy. BOTTOM LEFT: The new headquarters for Calvin Klein at Houthaven, Amsterdam (2016). TOP MIDDLE: Transformation of the old Binnengasthuis hospital into the new university library for the University of Amsterdam. Here the central atrium is shown (2018). MIDDLE AND RIGHT: New Babylon, The Hague (2013). Photos: Rob Hoekstra and René de Wit. BELOW MIDDLE: Roberto Meyer. Photo: Ineke Oostveen.

There is one other element that drives Meyer: high density city planning. The Netherlands is a small country and if we are not careful, he says, we will lose the all-important ‘empty’ space and natural environment. “Developers believe that everyone wants to own their own house, with a garden. Many open fields and farmland are being transformed into neighbourhoods with little to no variety. This happens even within cities. We advocate building closer together in the existing urban environment – where permitted – to gain space for the rest of the city and nature.” Buildings play an essential role in densification of the city; they can create opportunities for public spaces. As in the case of New Babylon in The Hague, where the addition of the high-rise towers made it feasible to place the new parking garage completely underground. This in turn created room to build the new Anna van Bueren Square that can be enjoyed by many. New Babylon is also one of many cases in which MVSA Architects preserved the existing structure of the old building and used it to create a new one. “We are all con-

vinced that beautiful, 19th century buildings should be preserved. But we also have to deal with the legacy of buildings from the ’60s and ’70s that are now vacant. These no longer meet our requirements and sadly there is much less love for them in our society.” Yet it is necessary to give these buildings a second chance, says Meyer. The New Babylon building is a great example where the new structure literally embraces the old one. Or the Ministry of Finance, a building that was once viewed as ugly, is now transformed into a building that is liked – if not loved – by most.

Transformation is an important factor; change is inevitable. Over the past thirty years architecture has continuously been transformed and it will do so in the future as well. This creates a responsibility for those who shape our world. “As architects we have a huge social responsibility. A realised building will be there for many years. Each project, each building has its own story, but ultimately it is about how users experience a building. For example, hearing that travellers are very satisfied with the new Rotterdam Central Station, that is the greatest compliment.”

Haga Hospital, in The Hague. The new wing for the children’s hospital, mother & child centre operation complex and the heart and vascular centre (2015). Visualisations: MVSA Architects

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Integrating architecture, interior and landscape

Their projects are sound pragmatic products, in the sense that the needs and wishes of the users are paramount. Characteristic of ADP architecten is that they intend to cope with all scales of design in every project: from urban design to door handles. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: ADP ARCHITECTEN

ADP architecten is a Dutch architectural practice with a rich tradition in all stages of the design and building process. Since the office was founded, over 60 years ago, their team of professionals has changed, modernized and refreshed. ADP’s working field varies from urban planning and development to residential renovations, from interiors to landscapes and from corporate headquarters to schools. Ideally they combine their knowledge of all these different levels of design into one integrated project.

developed a campus for Achmea’s 4,000 employees to work. Situated at the forest border, the clients’ desire to work in a green environment was literally taken into account in the design. The construction programme was spread out over the entire location, letting the forest landscape flow through the campus, in between the offices and entering the central building. As such, it became somewhat of a wonderland for the ‘New Ways of Working’ model it meant to facilitate.

Office wonderland

New Ways of Working

They were able to do so in a major project for one of the biggest insurance companies in the Netherlands, Achmea. On the border between the city of Apeldoorn and the biggest nature reserve of the country, ADP

Work has become more about meeting, reflecting and working together. Flexibility has become one of its key features. Meanwhile digitalization and mobility create opportunities for working outside the office,

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making it attractive to work from home or some place in the city. These developments are obviously not new. Working spaces are designed more and more in accordance with the associated changing demands. However to ADP architecten, designing for this New Ways of Working should involve more than simply creating new flexible working spaces. The working space has to offer something extra. In ADP’s design for Achmea they showed that by intertwining offices, infrastructure, interior and landscape in a creative and unique way, a new dimension can be given to the experience of work.

Working in green ADP architecten looked for the most beautiful piece of the Veluwe and pasted it into

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

The Achmea offices on the border between the city of Apeldoorn and the Veluwe nature reserve are designed to connect the employees with the landscape and create an optimised and welcoming working environment.

the ten-acre-area of the Achmea office. As one of the architects Marc a Campo illustrated: “The campus is flooded by sandy hills, heather and pine trees. We have extended the Veluwe on this campus. The buildings that followed are modestly added into the landscape. They are arranged in a way that they embrace the outside. The landscape is ‘trapped’, but at the same time it floats between the buildings. Visibility lines are deeply invoked in the area, and the buildings are noticeable from various vantage points. The design approaches the site as a whole; it is both a landscape and a large office.”

the interior. In all sorts of ways the employee is subtlety connected to the landscape. Horizontal windows create panoramic views, while glass bridges connect one building to the next. Ultimately the light and spaces in between are just as much part of the design as were the bricks that made the buildings. “Offices do not only exist for work,” says A Campo. “For one thing, people are social beings, and want to meet other people. Achmea had that same thought. They embraced the New Ways of Working and consciously implement it.” As such, the offices show many work place variations. A Campo: “Offices and work spots are no

longer just in one place or room. The design provides people an ‘at home’ feeling. They get a warm welcome as soon as they enter the buildings.” ADP architecten is proud that it has lifted this new, future-oriented outlook on work to a higher level. A Campo: "We have developed a total concept in which the interior and exterior of the office is integrated into an innovative and healthy work environment. Everything is focused on the welfare of the employees.”

Hospitality is key For ADP, one of the key points in the design for Achmea was hospitality. A working space needs to facilitate more than just doing work. It is a context that ought to incorporate all sorts of elements that manage the wellbeing of employees, both functionally and in the look and feel of a place. The warm forest colours are pulled into

LEFT: ADP architected turned the art’otel in Amsterdam into a cultural hotspot with a public lower level and a hotel at the upper floors. RIGHT: The town hall of Heemstede was expanded to house more employees.

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An office with identity There’s no place like a company’s headquarters to showcase a corporate identity. At Fokkema & Partners they take brand integration to a higher level and use the company’s identity to create functional architectural experiences. Their instantly recognisable interiors take you to the core of a brand in a single glance. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | MAIN PHOTO: AEMELIE DEELDER, MILK SPLASH FRIESLANDCAMPINA

While the firm also does new builds and complete renovations, it’s mostly known for its interiors, “but calling us interior designers, falls quite short of the mark,” says Laura Atsma, one of the partners, with conviction. “We don’t just change the carpet and reshuffle furniture – our projects get a complete overhaul and we incorporate brand identity in the most thorough and unexpected ways.”

fluid swirl that instantly reminds you of the essence of FrieslandCampina: milk.”

while incorporating a staircase and reception desk in its swirl.”

The construction process however, wasn’t that straightforward. From Styrofoam to cotton, every material was considered, states Atsma; “in the end, a smith helped us build it with lightweight sheet metal from airplane engineering. A lot of love and dedication has gone into making it completely smooth, like a flow of liquid,

New Ways of Working

The essence as centrepiece A perfect example is the Innovation Centre of FrieslandCampina in Wageningen, one of Europe’s biggest dairy companies. As part of their mantra to make the ‘obvious but unexpected’, Fokkema & Partners saw the building as a direct extension of the company’s identity. Atsma explains, “In its centre above the lobby, there’s a huge, bright atrium. We wanted to use this space in an original way. We came up with the ‘milk splash’ – a three-story high white,

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The grand opening of FrieslandCampina was performed by Queen Máxima pouring milk. Photo: ANP

When straying further into the building, there’s much more to discover from Fokkema & Partners’ exciting architectural engineering. Inspired by ‘Het Nieuwe Werken’ or New Ways of Working, the office floors are laid out to fit the work, employees and structure of the organisation. New Ways of Working is a novel way of looking at offices, with the ultimate goal to stimulate employee entrepreneurship, creating a situation where personal responsibilities are combined with more freedom. “We’ve been designing with this in mind for 15 years, from the movement’s very beginnings. The Netherlands has been a pioneer in this field,” Atsma says proudly. Key to New Ways of Working is that employees don’t get a single space appointed

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

LEFT: The product display on the constructive core in the restaurant at Unilever’s European Marketing and Innovations Hub. RIGHT: The entrance hall is the heart of the office with diverse islands where the brands of Unilever can truly come to life. Photos: Horizon Photoworks.

to them; instead, it includes designated areas that are adapted for different tasks. Space is shared, open and diverse. Atsma says, “The work floors provide private rooms to enable staff to concentrate, work station hubs to collaborate, meeting rooms of various sizes to communicate and accessible social space to connect with others. Employees choose the right environment depending on the work they need to perform.”

way. The core doesn’t just represent the brands, it’s actually something functional.” The ground and first floor were turned into a Unilever experience centre, featuring an Axe (Lynx) bar, a Lipton Tea bar and a Rexona (Sure) gym, building a further connection between staff, visitors and the company’s identity. The way employees are challenged by the interior to make it their own, truly brings the brands to life.

Brands proudly on display This philosophy was also applied to the Unilever European Marketing and Innovations Hub in Rotterdam. For the interior design Fokkema & Partners sought to create a welcoming, open culture to share knowledge, “not only amongst staff, but just as much for visitors and passers-by,” Atsma emphasises. “Dutch companies increasingly understand the value of transparency and collaboration. This can be achieved when the interior design allows employees to see and meet each other.” At the centre of the building is a blue core – the colour of Unilever’s logo – that runs through every floor, connecting the office vertically. Wrapped around it are white shelves upon which every Unilever product is presented. Atsma says this gives employees a physical reference of the products they’re working on. “If they weren’t displayed in an integrated way, the products would be lying around the office any-

says Atsma. “We wanted to combine traditional crafts with innovation and collaborated with Royal Tichelaar Makkum to get hand-made tiles according to a 400-yearold technique. We find it important that users recognise themselves in their working environment. These tiles bring past and future together – adding personality to the structure while respectfully renovating it to fit contemporary demands.”

Bringing out personality Built in the 1960s by renowned Dutch architect Willem Dudok, the Havengebouw beside the harbour of Amsterdam with monumental status, was in need of a refurbishment. Fokkema & Partners were tasked to revitalise the interior, returning it to its former grandeur while respecting the original structure. To stay true to the building’s distinct atmosphere, materials were carefully selected. Atsma says, “Rough and robust materials, such as blued steel, Corten steel and solid wood refer to shipbuilding and Amsterdam’s harbour industry, while classic materials like marble, stucco and woollen fabrics, refer to the Dudok’s architecture.” The building got a brand new lobby and a central, spiralling staircase that leads up to the new restaurant – moved up from the ground floor. A distinct detail is the tiling alongside the bar. “Every tile’s different,”

TOP: Royal Tichelaar in Makkum hand made the tiles for the harbour building in Amsterdam. BOTTOM: The faceted tiles of various sizes and depths provide the bar with a special plasticity. Photo: Horizon Photoworks.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Interior with a raw touch If you are looking for a stylish and smooth interior with natural colours and a raw touch, we have just the address for you. The beautiful and eye-catching collection of Raw Interiors combines perfectly finished details and nature’s unpolished objects. This, mixed with the predominantly natural colours, can give your stylish home just the boldness you are looking for. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: RAW INTERIORS

When entering the showrooms of Raw Interiors in either Breda or Den Bosch, you will immediately taste the atmosphere of your next favourite future living room. All furniture and accessories fit together perfectly and the whole collection has been hand-picked by owners Toine Michielsen and Sander de Weijer. Michielsen: “We create our typical Raw atmosphere through selection by colour and materials. For example, to a sleek kitchen we add a solid but rugged wooden fruit bowl. A detail like that is a stylish finishing touch.”

From flowers to furniture Michielsen and De Weijer love the contrast between the meticulously finished designs

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from designers like Minotti and for example – the eyecatcher of the shops – the tree trunk table, composed by Raw themselves. “It is a massive wooden slice of a tree trunk and we added metal legs to it. It is a popular piece of furniture in our shops,” explains Michielsen. Knowing this, it does make sense that both Michielsen and De Weijer started out as florists before switching to a career in furniture. This happened very naturally: “Sander and I started a flower shop in Breda in 1996. That is where our love for organic shapes is rooted. Ten years after the start, we slowly began adding furniture to our shops and now we run four high quality home interior stores. You can still see the influence that our

years as florists have on our take on the atmosphere in the showrooms.” Flowers are still present in the stores of Raw Interiors, but only as decoration. A switch from selling flowers to selling furniture might seem like a big change, but Michielsen doesn’t see it that way: “It is actually quite similar. In both cases the core business is presentation and finding the perfect combinations. That is something I have always been interested in.”

Complete interior advice Besides paying a visit to one of their four showrooms, Raw Interiors can also take their expertise into your home by designing

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

When entering the showrooms of Raw Interiors you will immediately taste the atmosphere of your next favourite future living room.

your complete interior. Michielsen says, “At Raw Interiors, a team of professional interior designers is at work, and we can offer you, for example, complete interior advice, including colour palette and lighting plan.” A perfect solution when you wish to redecorate your home or office professionally without any trouble. And it does not matter where you live. Up till now, Raw Interiors had worked with clients in not only the Netherlands and neighbouring Belgium, but also with clients in Spain, Switzerland and England. Even then, a house visit can be included. “Before we start designing, we need to know everything about the current atmosphere in our client’s home,” explains Michielsen. “We need to know about their wishes. As soon as those are clear, we start designing the interior on a floor map. Of course, we will keep in touch with our client during the design process: we want to be sure their needs and wishes are met. When everything is ready to be implemented, we arrange all items to be transported to our client’s location. In case of a big project, like a complete new interior, we will come by and install everything ourselves.”

Beside Minotti, Raw Interiors offers designs from brands including Flexform, Meridiani, Frigerio, Limited Edition, Van Rossum, XVL and large number of lesser known brands adding a nice touch to their collection. “Recently we visited a design fair in Paris were we bought a mirrored tray with prints by label Notre Monde. Usually we do not purchase items in that style, but this tray adds a nice detail to certain settings.”

To get a good impression, you can visit the Raw Interior stores in Breda and Den Bosch in the Netherlands. In both cities you can find one store with meticulously finished designed high segment brands like Minotti and other Italian brands, while the other store harbours brands in a segment a bit lower in price, but of course still of very high quality.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Intuitive and inspirational To set yourself apart you need a very clear idea of why you do what you do, and this is a key message that comes across unmistakably throughout the work of Hofman Dujardin Architects. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: HOFMAN DUJARDIN ARCHITECTS

Set up in 1999, partners Michiel Hofman (Dutch) and Barbara Dujardin (French) combined their expertise and knowledge to found their company in Amsterdam. Today, with a team of twenty architects and interior designers they work on projects all over the world and have a wide portfolio to satisfy their clients requests: from office spaces to villas, indoor swimming pools and interior design.

Hence Hofman Dujardin Architects put the emphasis on expressing the essence of a project from the first sketches. “We can design for people because we understand people. Some architecture focuses on aesthetics, our architecture is about human in-

Hofman states that “it is the people who are at the heart of any successful project. Architecture is about being able to meet the needs of the people you are working with.” For him, it is all about strong cooperation so that when a project comes to life, the client can say “wow, this is a space for me, this is my home; this is my office.” “The importance lies in making a design that is so simple it becomes evident,” he says.

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Founders Barbara Dujardin and Michiel Hofman.

tuition and how people respond to their surroundings. Human intuition determines our wellbeing and in that sense we understand what it takes to create spaces that appeal to these natural, intuitive needs.” The Eneco Headquarters in Rotterdam are an example of how intuitive needs can be translated into an inspiring office space. This highlights another value at the core of Hofman Dujardin s architecture: inspiring people. And inspiration can only happen if there is an environment specially created to unleash creativity and productivity. To bring a space to life, one must look beyond what is obvious. One Hofman Dujardin’s projects entailed renovating the interiors of the departments of two Dutch ministries in The Hague. When researching the 55,000m² project they noticed that the famous American architect Michael

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Hofman Dujardin Architects specialise in people – they use people’s intuitive needs to create inspirational and functional buildings and interiors.

Graves had incorporated elements of Dutch art and architecture in the building. Yet, this had never been noticed before or even mentioned by the architect himself. Surprised by their discovery, they decided to expand on this and magnify the use of famous Dutch paintings as floor patterns in the offices. “The result is unexpected colour patterns throughout the entire building. That’s when it is not about aesthetics anymore,” Hofman says, “the context itself creates fabulous and inspiring surroundings.” Another principle Hofman emphasizes is sincerity. Sincerity with the client, sincerity with the delivery of the project, sincerity with the use of material, sincerity at each level of the project. Sincerity goes hand in hand with quality. “We want to deliver quality in the design process, quality in the design itself and quality of the finished building. What you see in the renderings is what you get,” he says. A clear example of this is their BarentsKrans project, an ambitious project that gave the law firm’s headquarters in The Hague a fresh look. “They were amazed at how similar the reality looked compared to the visualisations – and if you look closely at the stairs, a great amount of attention has been paid to the details, it’s all there,” says Hofman.

No project is too ambitious for the team of architects at Hofman Dujardin because “if you know people, you know everything.” He explains: “This is because we don’t specialise in houses, offices or interiors, we specialise in people. This is why we don’t start by bringing our knowledge in, we ask people what they want. It’s as simple as that.” And that seems to work very well when looking at some of the villas built in Amsterdam Zuid, Bloemendaal and Zeist: they are dynamic, spacious and inspiring.

with the client. You see, architecture is a bit like a martial art: you use the other person’s strength to make a good throw. It’s the same here: we use the strength of our client to make it better. It is also what gives a soul to what we create.”

Sustainability also gets into the picture. Hofman continues: “If you work on the intuition of people and you keep things simple, then those things will stay. That’s why if you go to a house we built five years ago you can still take pictures and publish them because the quality is still there, as fresh as day one.” When asked about the many prizes that Hofman Dujardin won, Hofman says, “It’s remarkable, we received the design awards for the Bloomframe Balcony, a window frame which can be transformed into a balcony. This project is not about design but it is about an idea that is brought to life.” He goes on to add: “For us it is extremely important to create value for people by designing their spaces for living, working and relaxing. We establish a strong relationship

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

ABOVE: Expanding your home can be surprisingly rewarding and affordable with a rooftop or side extension. PORTRAIT: From left to right, Bas van den Broeck, Maarten Innemee and Jeroen Lange.


There is a way to avoid the hassle of moving, while getting a substantial increase in space: building a home extension. More and more people in the Netherlands are discovering its benefits, whether it’s on top of the roof, alongside the house or at the back. “You’d be surprised how much is possible, even for the more limited budgets,” says Maarten Innemee enthusiastically. Together with Bas van den Broeck and Jeroen Lange he founded Studio Schaeffer BNA, an architecture company that specialises in home extensions. They are also the driving force behind, a website for home owners who want to build an extension. “We love working with private home owners, every project is a one-off. As opposed to corporate projects, most of our clients pay for the projects with their own money

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so the details and finish are extremely important,” Innemee says. Thanks to a change in Dutch construction laws in 2010, regulations are hardly an issue either. Innemee explains: “Extensions only need to comply with the rules from when the original structure was built. Building on top of a house from the 1970s allows for more options than current construction laws do for new-builds.” One project Innemee remembers fondly is a double roof extension on a round, corner home in Scheveningen. Two home owners on the top floor joined forces to build an extension big enough for three rooms and a large sun terrace each. “We raised the brickwork by half a floor and constructed the extension in a bold, black aluminium material with large windows. The result is a modern, contrasting appearance that suits the building,” he says.

If a full extension is not an option, Innemee and his team also offer to build ‘tuinkamers’ or garden rooms. Generally, extensions have to stretch the full width of the property’s roof. So a garden room is a combination of a small closed space and an open, pergola construction. Innemee: “The structure is straightforward, lightweight and often doesn’t require a new roof, so it’s quick and cost effective.” Innemee and his team also organise free walk-in sessions every week, in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Leiden. Without making any commitments, home owners can stop by and talk through extension ideas with expert architects. “We make sure the team present knows the city and is familiar with its buildings,” states Innemee. “We want to be open towards our clients and these sessions are really popular.”

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors


Leading Female Architect

TOP AND RIGHT: The King Kong hostel entrance area (top left) and the dormitory in the attic (right) – in collaboration with ScheurwatervandenHoven. Photos: Luuk Kramer. BOTTOM LEFT: House H model, viewed from the garden. MIDDLE: Antonia Reif. RIGHT: NRCafe, area with the main bar. Photo: Luuk Kramer.

Surprisingly functional and creative architecture TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: ARA | ANTONIA REIF ARCHITECTUUR

Within three years of its existence, ARA | Antonia Reif Architectuur has already built up an impressive portfolio. Despite starting at the height of the economic downturn, founder Antonia Reif has made a strong name for her company with her creative, functional and often surprising designs. “For my first client I had delivered some smaller projects so he trusted me to do the job,” Reif says. The project was the renovation of a former newspaper headquarters. Reif turned it into a large, open area for a grand café. “It’s far from a plain space; different areas with various qualities create generosity and privacy at the same time. It’s both comfortable to work alone with your laptop and have dinner with a group of friends. During the weekends, you can even dance here until deep into the night,” she says. Originally from Germany, Reif moved to the Netherlands six years ago and settled

down in Rotterdam. One of her strong points is that she keeps her work varied and is not quickly satisfied. “It’s fascinating how architecture combines creativity and functionality. The design process means a permanent optimisation of a place by transforming clients’ wishes into clear, wellworking spaces that make people feel comfortable,” she explains. One of her recently completed projects is the King Kong hostel in Rotterdam that counts 150 beds. The ground floor is split into four levels that contain all the guest facilities including reception, bar, lounge, open kitchen and even a mini cinema. “The spaces are all connected and offer interesting views throughout, both towards the street and looking in,” she continues. The guest bedrooms are situated in the storeys above. “In the loft dormitory at the top, there are hidden outlooks from the beds to the double-high main hall. Opposite the beds, you’ll see a beautiful

panorama of the Rotterdam skyline. I love incorporating these kinds of surprises in my designs.” Currently, Reif is working on the extension of a house from the 1960s. The original structure was intended for a couple without children and the family that now owns it wanted to gain more space. “The original façade was orientated towards the street, away from the lovely, big garden at the back. I’m going to turn this around, make the house much more spacious and open and really incorporate the garden as an extension of the living area,” she comments. As with all projects, Reif prefers to stay involved until delivery. This way, she can conduct until the last note and achieve the best final result for the project.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors


Leading Female Architect

Enhancing the urban environment “We want to make a difference,” say Juliette Bekkering and Monica Adams, founders of Bekkering Adams Architects. “We are committed to make expressive and characteristic architecture that people can identify with and can be proud of.” TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: BEKKERING ADAMS ARCHITECTS

With a team of passionate designers and architects, Bekkering Adams Architects works on innovative and sustainable projects. The Dutch architectural office specialises in communal buildings and public spaces. Bekkering says, “For each client, we strive to create a customized environment, tailor-made and special. It is our core business to make buildings that connect, with spaces where people can meet. We aim to create projects that go beyond the purely architectural and continue to repeatedly surprise.” Adams adds, “We want to create unique architecture by making buildings with a soul.”

Urban environment Both founders have a fascination for enhancing the urban environment. Bekkering

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says, “For us, a design should always connect to the existing environment and add value to it. We strive to create buildings that have a confident appearance in the landscape, buildings that are expressive and have a tactile expression of material and detail. In the communal buildings of Bloemershof for instance, we pursued the expression and materiality of a frozen forest, thus creating a self-evident urban ensemble.”

Specific yet flexible “We take into account the demands of the different parties involved, such as the client and the users, but also the relevant technical requirements,” explains Adams, “people should feel comfortable in our buildings

and be able to identify with them.” Bekkering says, “It is like solving a puzzle, the buildings must be specific and expressive yet also generic and flexible, able to move along with the time, shrink and grow when necessary and be able to accommodate a variety of uses.” “And,” adds Adams, “we strive to combine a certain neutrality in the design with clearly defined communal spaces. We articulate specific architectural elements, such as a stairwell or hallway. For example the majestic staircase in the fire station of Doetinchem connects all floors and the different functions, making it the central feature in the building. Also the stairwell in the head office Esprit Benelux in Amstelveen is the

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Bekkering Adams architects make innovative and sustainable buildings, interiors and public spaces that are customized for the environment. OPPOSITE PAGE: Ensemble Bloemershof. Photo: René de Wit. TOP LEFT: Esprit Headquarter Benelux. Photo: DigiDaan. BOTTOM LEFT: Fire Station Doetinchem. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode. RIGHT: Private House. Photo: Daria Scagliola.

eyecatcher of the building, flooded with daylight and with a view to the patio on the top floor.”

Research The office has an open attitude towards the current issues of society. Research plays a key role within projects. Bekkering: “Our strategy is more and more to seek cooperation with other parties and set up research projects with them. In this way we can deepen the content of the design, including the research into sustainability, materialization, scenography and typological studies.” Adams says, “We have a special interest in the potential of public and collective space for the contemporary transformation processes of our cities. We feel that architects nowadays should take into account the constant changes in our urban environment and think about solutions for enhancing our environment, now and in the future.”

ergy efficiency for example by designing buildings in which daylight is provided deep into the building. We have a preference for natural and beautifully aging materials and are constantly searching for possibilities to combine distinctive materials and a characteristic detailing with environmentally friendly techniques.”

Stretching the limits Over the years a distinct portfolio has been established, characterized by expressive and striking buildings. The commissions vary from complex building assignments to concept development; from headquarter offices to public buildings and spaces, but also interior and product design. Recently completed projects include the fire station in Doetinchem, a public playground in Rot-

terdam, the head office Esprit Benelux in Amstelveen and even a comprehensive design for a highway. Bekkering continues, “Currently we are working on a secondary and primary school, a boarding school and a sport complex, all embedded in a new public park in the city centre of Peer, Belgium. It reflects a unique co-operation between the municipality and the school-institutes. Next to this large-scale project we are working on smaller projects such as a pavilion in Oss. Recently we developed an installation for the Architecture Biennale of Venice that puts the definition and perception of space and infinity centre stage.” Adams concludes, “We always try to find the boundaries of our work field. Architecture is more than creating a building or public space. It is about enhancing the urban environment.”

Sustainability Striving for energy efficiency is an integral part of the design process. “Nowadays people expect environmentally friendly solutions,” says Bekkering. “We achieve en-

Monica Adams (left) and Juliette Bekkering (right), founders of Bekkering Adams Architects. Photo: Frank Hanswijk

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Leading Female Architect

Strategic thinking Beatriz Ramo isn’t afraid of challenge. As the founder of STAR strategies + architecture, Ramo loves taking on challenging projects to pour all her time and energy into. And the results show that her strategy is working. The office has won several international prizes in architecture and urban design. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: STAR STRATEGIES + ARCHITECTURE

Originally from Spain, Ramo has made the conscious decision to keep her company small. “But this is by no means incompatible with taking on large projects. I only ever work on one or two at a time, so I can dedicate as much time and effort as possible to get the best results,” she says. While STAR may be small, its projects can be large-scale and Ramo insists she doesn’t want the company to specialise in any field. “Being a generalist is my strength,” she states. “It adds an extra challenge to every project to explore things as ‘for the first time’ – which makes me more curious and it motivates the team to work

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harder. I’ve proven to our clients several times that our ‘un-specialised’ approach can be a very positive thing.”

Strategy over design The 2009 competition in Elche, Spain, captures Ramo’s approach perfectly. The location was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an ancient orchard with thousands of palm trees. Up against “superstar architects” Ramo entered with a bold approach: “at first we didn’t have a design but a well thought-out strategy.” The paradoxical demand was to create an iconic viewpoint that would return the attention humbly to the palm grove.

“This led us to a Ferris wheel, a classical icon that would keep the orchard as the real protagonist. It allows the public to have different views of it and it would consume only half the budget so we invested the remainder in regenerating the public space around it. Moreover, it would be a reversible structure that could easily be taken apart and sold. This lowered the risk of the project – important during a financial crisis,” says Ramo. Winning the final round of the competition was a double triumph for STAR: not only did ‘strategy’ win over ‘design’, she also beat four of the most established architects in the

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

world. “This was really a culmination of what our office stands for,” she says proudly.

An unexpected future The reversibility of the wheel points out another key STAR quality; its designs are prepared for the unpredictable future. Currently, Ramo is part of the prestigious AIGP or Atelier International du Grand Paris, together with 13 other renowned architecture firms. In collaboration with Rotterdam-based MONU Magazine & BOARD Ramo won her place on this advisory board to help the government develop the new metropolis of Paris. One of its first assignments was to help resolve Paris’s large housing crisis. “We came up with ‘co-residence’– a house model that shifts from ‘ownership’ to ‘membership’ extrapolating in the apartments the advantages of being a ‘user’ rather than an ‘owner’. It ties in with today’s shared economy initiatives; each apartment is divided into several private units and shared parts,” Ramo explains. “Certain householders only use pieces like the kitchen eight per cent of the time: why not share them between three apartments? Extra functions like a laundry room or sauna can be added and the fact they’re shared makes them affordable. Co-residency gives you twice the space, while saving a third in construction cost and energy spending.” This innovative strategy offers an alternative to Paris’s current trends where houses are becoming smaller and increasingly expensive. “People are priced out of home ownership but simply making homes smaller is not a solution. If property is becoming unaffordable we should rethink the concept of ‘property’ itself,” says Ramo.

OPPOSITE PAGE: Mirador del Palmeral - FIRST PRIZE Elche, Alicante (Spain). Instead of making the viewpoint the centrepiece, Ramo created a structure that kept the palm grove in the forefront: a Ferris wheel. ABOVE: In the Name of the Past – Critical essay about Preservation. Superficial sustainability policies and inconsequent preservation decisions will result in uncomfortable situations where the possibility of one can only exist due to the death of the other. ABOVE RIGHT: Beatriz Ramo. Photo: Hoda Hamzeh, AIGP.

She admits co-residence might not be for everyone but it answers very well to the dynamics of the many reconfigurations of the ‘traditional family’: single parents, senior couples, commuters. Moreover, once again, the project offers great resilience. Ramo: “If years from now housing trends change, the co-residences can be reversed into ‘traditional’ apartments’.” STAR has done six videos on co-residence; watch them online via its YouTube channel.

Innovative homes A family of five in Zaragoza, Spain asked STAR to design their new home but only had a limited budget. “The sons would leave the house in some 5-10 years’ time and the parents were afraid the house would become too big for them,” Ramo says. Her design allowed it to be transformed into two apartments by adding only one wall and building a second kitchen.

The second apartment could be for the daughter or rented out. Ramo: “In just 12 hours you can make two entire homes out of one, making the house today much more resilient for future developments.”

The bigger question Ramo isn’t afraid to speak her mind when it comes to topical architectural trends like sustainability or preservation. Recently she wrote two satirical essays on these topics. On the issue of preservation she says, “For example, making the centre of Amsterdam a UNESCO World Heritage Site was probably not necessary or even counter-productive. Municipalities want the UNESCO ‘label’ to attract tourists – but nowadays there isn’t a clear understanding of what ‘preservation’ really means, and the fear of being erased from the UNESCO list makes cities in many cases stop developing.” To read the essays in full, please visit:

LEFT: O’Mighty Green “Eco-Nuclear Power Plant.” Satire about the misuse of ‘Sustainability’. MIDDLE: Zaragoza House(s). The entire house was designed under two scenarios allowing it to be turned from a single house to two apartments – the installations, the windows, the patios and open spaces – all without any extra cost. RIGHT: Co-Residence. The collaborative economy is booming, from shared bicycles and cars to co-working in cities. For Paris, STAR developed a model of shared housing called co-residence, where certain less-used spaces are shared between 3-4 apartments. It’s affordable and allows for a high standard of living.

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

Kramer’s use of natural light and his sober compositions make it feel like you see the buildings with your own eyes.

Capturing the essence of architecture TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: LUUK KRAMER

By a combination of overviews, close ups and shots of the structures in everyday use, seeing Kramer’s work is like looking at the buildings with your own eyes. He says, “Capturing the beauty and quality of the structure is what motivates me. By staying true to the natural architecture you’ll never be surprised when you visit the place – it’ll be like you’ve already been there.” Kramer’s style is characterised by the use of natural light, its calm and sober composition and the clarity of the photos. He says, “I want to make people understand a structure so you get the idea behind the design. I try to show how it fits in the surroundings and why the architecture is open or closed, why it’s soft or angular, transparent or opaque.” Recently, Kramer did several series of newly renovated buildings, including the Rijksmusem (the Dutch national museum), the Hermitage and the Mauritshuis. The interplay between the old and the new is what attracted him to the structures. “Especially in the newly opened Rijksmuseum, you could

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see how the architects really respected the original building,” he explains, “the old and new exist in complete harmony.” Another project that Kramer fondly recalls is Utrecht’s music venue TivoliVredenburg. He continues, “It’s like a gigantic cube with four separate halls inside the structure. In the middle, where the halls come together, a wonderful area of atriums, squares and

escalators is created. I really enjoyed capturing the spaciousness of it.” Kramer is also about to re-release a book made in collaboration with architecture journalist Bernard Hulsman. Double Dutch covers the last 25 years of Dutch architecture and will also be available in English.

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With their creative flair and extensive horticultural knowledge, garden designers Studio REDD together with Borek and RMR ensure desires are not just met – but exceeded.

Faced with an outdoor space TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: STUDIO REDD

Working in symphony – not only with each other but primarily with the landscape, users and architecture – bespoke Dutch garden designers Studio REDD, take a united and innovative approach to gardens. Together with furniture designers Borek and RMR Interieurbouw, it ensures desires are not just met – but exceeded. Creative flair and extensive horticultural knowledge a given, it is the trio's wealth of experience in the fields of architecture, design and sustainability that ensures each project fulfills their clients’ and their own high standards. Based in the south of the Netherlands, Studio REDD indulges in initial discussions with the client, relishing the potential. Once a direction emerges, 2D and 3D models materialise, inspiring confidence in their design’s ability to fit seamlessly into its surroundings. Focusing on wellbeing, Studio REDD is masterful in incorporating wellness elements, such as pools or spa-centred roof terraces. As bespoke garden designers, they hover on the cusp of interiors and exteriors. Calling

upon their contemporaries, stylish furniture designers Borek and interior design company RMR, to work in conjunction with them results in a complementary fusion of skills. From urban spaces to sprawling landscapes, the trio concentrates on combining their expertise. Natural materials are confronted with the strength of wood and stone and today’s hectic lifestyles meet tranquility. Uniting the outside space with the architectural aesthetics of the building is where the trio succeeds. Satisfied only once optimum coherence with outdoor life has been achieved, Borek, set up in 1977, launch collection after collection of tasteful outdoor furniture and accompanying parasols, designed and manufactured with passion and care. With the launch of their latest brand Max & Luuk – a collection of charming garden furniture in gorgeous pastel shades – even sitting out in winter can be a pleasure. Their sturdy yet stylish wooden tables are ideal for alfresco dining. Collaboratively, Eric Kuster, RMR, Oving Architecten and Studio REDD have re-

cently completed a large-scale wellness garden in Haren. Ever the perfectionists, RMR constructed the generously light and airy home and pool house, while Borek designed the outdoor furniture. Allowing uninterrupted views over Groningen's countryside, the newly constructed villa benefits from the area’s flat landscape. Following the client’s wishes, buxus cloud trees were planted and a luxurious pool was instated along with a wooden pool house. Alongside the terrace, ample space for children was a prerequisite. Individually or united, the trio are at the fore of design in its many guises within Benelux, and their creative and collaborative approach has earned them a host of exciting projects.

StudioREDD, Bespoke Dutch Garden Design: Borek parasols – Outdoor Furniture: RMR Interieurbouw – Handmade Luxury Interiors:

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J U D I T H   W I E R S E M A   S C U L P T R E S S


Dutch sculptress Judith Wiersema does not shy away from struggle, though at first sight of her elegant, metallic forms you might not know it. Using oblique references to the world of fashion, her sleek sculptures seek to address women’s issues while portraying a pleasing surface. This might, at first seem ironic. Why make such a pretty figure if the message is that women need not feel defined by their physical attributes? The viewer who stops here, however, becomes the very thing against which her work would react, for beneath the shiny veneer lies the strength of a rock. Literally. “I enjoy working with stone or wood,” says Wiersema, “precisely because it is more difficult. This makes it more special 72 |  Issue 11 |  November 2014

to me.” That effort and energy may lie hidden underneath an attractive form, but this is not accidental. “I want to present the message on a nice stand to make it more palatable.” One such piece entitled “No Competition”, seeks to speak on Barbie’s behalf addressing charges that she presents girls with an unattainable idea of beauty. Several dolllike torsos form a pedestal upon which a woman perches, precarious and confident. Unlike the figures below her, she’s complete with her arms and legs intact. “She is proud to be a woman and not a doll.” Wiersema makes a good point. Critics who claim that young girls who try to stick to the doll's unrealistic form are weak, commit a similar transgression of which they accuse

the toy. After all, Barbie is just a doll and therefore no competition for a real woman with her own thoughts and ideas. Giving Barbie a voice is a uniquely feminist idea, but Wiersema isn’t necessarily concerned exclusively with women’s struggles. “Everything around me affects the outcome of my work.” While some of her pieces seem as though they could be made of candy, it would be hard candy indeed, and require some chewing. She plans to continue working in stone and wood, as well as wax and clay – whatever the idea demands. An exhibition of her work can be seen at The Unit London this fall.

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Artist collective Py Verde often create art using the public sites of the city they live in, Brussels






Artist collective Py Verde makes work that addresses the temporalities and changing nature of our surroundings. Comprised of French artist Géraldine Py and Roberto Verde from Italy, the collective lives and works in Brussels; often, their works exist in public spaces as videos, installations or performance pieces. They use the city as their canvas to make viewers rethink the sites they pass by every day, without a second thought. The duo wish to reach out to members of the public; “we believe in a social, useful role for the artist himself,” states Verde, and explains that they see their work as part of a bigger picture, a global conversation. Their art is often about the processes objects go through, and, focusing on these transitions, each piece has its own life span. The artists arrange materials from clothes to pieces of pipe or metal, in ways that highlight their specific materiality. Py adds that in using these materials, they are referencing the physics, chemistry or biology of their very being, questioning their existence

leries like Wiels, Argos and Bozar, and of course, the wonderful Belgian beer.

and the possibility of any chance encounters they may have. Influenced by key movements such as land art and minimalism, key figures from writer Samuel Beckett to musician John Cage are also among their sources of inspiration. Verde also mentions artists Peter Fischli, David Weiss, Joseph Beuys and directors Federico Fellini, Ettore Scola and Werner Herzog. The duo settled in Brussels because of its central location, and they soon learned about the capital’s other benefits too, from the growing young underground art scene with artist-led spaces like Coffre-Fort, to cheap rent and exciting exhibitions. Py also references the city’s great range of gal-

A key piece for Py Verde entitled Abusive Construction, from 2011, plays with the possibility of builders using their work site in domestic ways. They turned a crane on a construction site in Brussels into a clothesline. Documentation of this amusing sight shows the extreme height at which the clothes were hung and also shifts the viewer’s relationship with the backdrop in surprising ways. Taking more opportunities to use the city’s public landscape, Py Verde is now planning an ambitious public installation involving “water turbulences, an installation with living cockroaches, a video with rats, and a big installation depicting the four seasons, where materials will be transformed and living forms will appear” says Py. Catch their current work during the Lux exhibition at the Fresnoy Art Center in Tourcoing in France (near the Belgian border) until 4 January 2015.

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Modern Times – Photography in the 20th Century TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK

dation of contemporary art and all the trials and tribulations encountered in between.

The development of photography in the 19th century was a truly ground-breaking moment for the human race. Those early grainy, crinkled, black and white daguerreotypes and photo etchings still retain a palpable fascination.

Iconic images from famous artists including Brassai, Man Ray and Muybridge amongst others give glitz and glam to the exhibition. There is also an exclusive collection of rare, vintage  prints  that  cannot  be  seen  anywhere else.

Photography  did  not  stand  still  though, and  with  improvements  in  technology coming thick and fast in the 20th century, photography blossomed into the dominant force we know it to be now. Modern Times – Photography in the 20th Century is the inaugural exhibition in the newly renovated Philips  Wing  of  the  Rijksmuseum  and maps  the  rise  and  rise  photography through the previous century.  Amassed  over  twenty  years,  the  Rijksmuseum gained over 20,000 images; more than 400 from this collection are on show. It charts the medium’s fledgling beginnings through to a position it more recently took as the foun-

The  exhibition  will  feature  some  amateur works too – considering the standing that photography  now  has  in  our  world,  this seems pertinent and adds a nice touch.

Class, Olympic High Diving Champion Marjorie Gestring, John Gutmann (1905–1998), Gelatin silver print San Francisco, 1936, Collection Rijksmuseum, with the support of Baker & McKenzie Amsterdam N.V.

Photography  is  an  accessible  medium, everyone now seems to own a camera in one  form  or  another  and  everyone  takes photos. This is what makes this exhibition so relevant. It has transformed our lives, so why not see how? Until 11 January 2015, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


They are much more than simply a tool for transport – classic cars are pieces of art. Coach builders spend hours tailoring the metalwork to cover their engines, themselves veritable masterpieces of engineering. For The Gallery Brummen’s founder Nico Aaldering, such a statement couldn't ring truer. Today, running the almost four-decade old Dutch company with his son Nick, his love for fast cars is yet to wane. From a childhood yearning for an Alfa Romeo, the Aalderings have succeeded in

turning a passion into a career. Now they deal in classic cars globally. Chatting to Nick, who shares the penchant for roaring engines wholeheartedly with his father, it’s hard not to get revved up in his enthusiasm. “Car showrooms can be boring,” he says, “but we’ve taken a completely different approach, designing a building that really does these cars justice. We sell all over the world – with requests from Dubai, Hong Kong and the UK. We take care of everything from A to Z.”

Lusting after classic marques, Nick reveals that it’s the cars of the 80s that he considers to be strong candidates for future status – making now a good time to invest, he says wisely, nodding at a stunning Ferrari Testarossa and a BMW M3, whose predecessors are highly sought after. Citing the classic Italian Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis as his personal favourites, he explains that almost everyone appreciates a classic car. “This makes holding a meeting in such a venue quite remarkable. As of 2015 we’ll be hosting meetings here, large or small-scale with optional catering. Of course, our collection of over 300 cars will most certainly be the highlight. When you buy a classic car, you’re buying emotion – and that’s what we’ve got.”

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Cocoa tree: Detail of a cacao tree for technical blueprint. Catch and Release: Tribal fish design for Catch and Release Belgium.

Photo editing: Kunas and Cacao, Praline 1912-2012 and Maya Kakaw, three books with more than 600 retouched and edited pictures combined.

Quetzal3D, Quetzalcoatl, a Mexican God replica (above) and Choclala, Choco Story Mascot (left), both for use in an augmented reality smartphone app.

Envisioning and realising your design TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE  |  VISUALS: KENNY MOLLY

It seems to Discover Benelux that Belgian designer Kenny Molly is just not satisfied unless he’s scratching his head and puzzling over perplexingly vague design briefs before ultimately creating some of the Benelux’s most well thought-out, exciting and stylish pieces of design and visual communication. A self-confessed polymath, Brabant’s amiable Kenny Molly struggles to pinpoint exactly which discipline of design he fits into. “I’m an all-round designer, really,” he says diplomatically. With a skill set that includes – but is by no means limited to – illustration, photo retouching, website and flyer design, even 3D design and augmented reality, Kenny explains: “People approach me, asking ‘Can you fix this project?’ and even if it’s something I’ve never tackled before, I’m confident in my abilities to deliver.” Given his extensive experience in the design department at Puratos along with widespread freelancing, Molly’s credentials are unquestionable. Fluent in imagery, text,

can be better and then realising it.” Keen to impart his passion, Molly describes his 3D work as “the ultimate in design”, as he is in a position to “create something so exact, down to the very last detail in terms of form, colour, dimension and time.” Mpc: New housestyle for MPC Sint Franciscus, a centre for children with disabilities.

form and colour, his “core occupations” depend on the project at hand – but there are certain characteristics that remain true to each of Black Molly Design’s creations. “The client expects you as the graphic designer to ‘lift’ their idea,” he explains with a modest smile, “You’re adding expertise to a project – but, of course, the client’s philosophy is central to the style.” “Often modern-day marketing relies too heavily on trends; I try to avoid that. Each project exists virtually before it really materialises, I know it’s there in my mind and bringing this concept to life is what really stimulates me, envisioning how something

“There are no distinctive characteristics to my work,” he reveals, “just a desire to learn and challenge myself.” A deft hand at photo retouching and editing, he proudly presents the Choco Museum books. In terms of creative impulses, he cites the logo for Belgium’s fishing community Catch and Release, “a tribal design that was completely unexpected.” While Molly keeps himself on his toes, he’s certainly a designer to keep an eye on. He displays an innate ability to capture the essence and character of his clients and their users, taking the message directly from source to audience in the most effective and fun way.

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Reports show that talent development in Dutch schools is falling short. While state education in the Netherlands scores well in international league tables, many students stagnate  and  underachieve.  Peter  van  Kranenburg,  founder  and  director  of  Florencius, says he has found the solution to help students achieve their full potential. With  its  small  classes,  specialist  teachers and positive talent development, Florencius has  become  one  of  the  Netherlands’  top private primary schools. Located in Laren and Amstelveen, it fuels children’s abilities and talents, allowing them to excel throughout their lives. Van Kranenburg says, “We believe  if  you  positively  strengthen  their

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t alents, children’s lesser abilities will naturally improve too. Instead of looking at what students can’t do, we look at what they do well and help them develop. This approach has proved to deliver the best results.” Part of Florencius’ core values is to allow children to follow their own, individual paths. If a pupil shows talent in a particular area, they help  them  advance  further  which  prevents them  from  underachieving.  “When  someone’s  good  at  English,  we  would  increase the number of classes they get in this subject,” Van Kranenburg says. “We can’t make children  become  more  intelligent  than  they are, but we can get the very best out of them. This helps them to grow confident in their own

skins. Parents really notice how well our system works, it appeals to their own ambitions: they want to see their child flourish.”

Four Qs Set  up  in  2008,  Florencius  was  the  first  private  primary  school  in  the  Netherlands. Their classes consist of one teacher per just eight students between the ages of six and twelve. Apart from teaching standard subjects like maths, spelling and language, the school works with an innovative ‘Four Q’ system. Van Kranenburg says, “Firstly, IQ stands for mental intelligence. This covers all the traditional subjects. EQ is about emotional intelligence,  meaning  we  help  students

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Thanks  to  having  specialists  on  site,  the schools have a large support network to give extra attention to gifted students and pupils  with  dyslexia,  dyscalculia  or  performance anxiety.

Ready for the world Florencius teaches according to the International Primary Curriculum (or IPC) which prepares  children  for  global  citizenship. From  a  young  age  students  are  taught English at a high level, there are exchange programmes  to  countries  all  across  the world and the curriculum is more themebased. Van Kranenburg explains, “We’ve combined  the  traditional  subjects  of  geography,  topography  and  history  and go through these subjects by theme. Take for  example  the  theme  ‘world  leaders’  – when  we  talk  about  Nelson  Mandela  we immediately include the history and  geo graphy of South Africa.” The schools also invest a lot of time in personal development. Every student has an individual  coach  appointed  to  them  to guide them through difficult situations like parents  divorcing.  “When  the  students leave,  they’re  socially-emotionally  very strong. It’s important to teach them to be confident because that gives them such a boost.  All  our  pupils  do  really  well  at  secondary school. We know this through our parent questionnaires and we stay in touch with our former students for several years,” Van Kranenburg continues. While Florencius is a private school, it aims to  put  students  in  public  education  after they leave. He says, “We want students to do well in general society so it’s important they return to ‘normal’ state schools and learn to function in common settings. We

make  sure  they  have  the  best  possible preparation.” One  way  to  achieve  this  is  through  the   lorenciPlus programme offering homework F support  for  students  in  secondary  education. “FlorenciPlus is an excellent addition to students in secondary schools. It combines the best of both worlds, the social aspect of state  schools  and  the  specialist,  individual approach of private education,” Van Kranenburg explains.

The best education When the first Florencius school opened in Laren, there were just four children. Now the  school  has  grown  to  50  and  Amstelveen – opened two years ago – has 30. Van Kranenburg wants to keep student numbers down per school, so he’s looking into starting schools in Haarlem and The Hague. “We found that there’s a clear need for private primary schools, so we will continue to expand. In state education classes have  been  getting  increasingly  bigger. Sometimes there’s only one teacher per 30 students,  so  they  don’t  get  the  attention they need and deserve.” Before he founded Florencius, Van Kranenburg worked in state education for 25 years and noticed much more could be done to help children  develop.  He  says,  “There  was  too much bureaucracy and red tape. At 29 years old  I  set  up  my  own  school  but  there  just weren’t the funds available to help children  excel.  That’s  when  I  began  to  think  about setting  up  a  private  school.  I  started  researching all kinds of educational systems in 2007  and  a  year  later  Florencius  Laren opened its doors.”

build up confidence. FQ contains physical intelligence and covers sports, music and other creative subjects. Then lastly there’s SQ or spiritual intelligence which means we help children set targets, learn to be ambitious  and  teach  them  about  their identity.” Florencius’  goal  is  to  develop  an  exemplary  education  system,  giving  students optimal  attention  in  a  safe  environment.

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LEFT AND TOP RIGHT: The actual school, which is almost hidden in the ground. ABOVE: The breathtaking boarding houses, covered with Ivy.

A small school, with a big heart TEXT BERTHE VAN DEN HURK  | PHOTOS: HELEN GORDON

For eighty years, International School Eerde (ISE) has provided a peaceful and stunning oasis for students from all over the world. “The staff is very committed and dedicated to the children and to the quality of their learning, no matter what their background is,” says Principal, Helen Gordon. “We are a small school with a big heart.” With a capacity of 120 students, ISE is a small  boarding  school,  which  offers  primary  and  secondary  education.  Helen: “Children do not get lost because we offer a lot of individual attention. Some classes are provided for only for one or two students.” The school offers a balanced programme for each individual child. It focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, self-confidence and understanding.

is  used  for  gatherings.  The  boarding houses are located in the renovated stables and servants’ quarters.

The small classes provide a lot of individual attention for each student.

dents a lot about other cultures and practices and it enhances the sense of family that is there. “There is a huge caring and sharing feeling,” says Helen. “We do more than teach. We educate the whole child; they  learn  to  be  independent,  they  learn about social and emotional intelligence and how  to  take  their  place  in  a  constantly changing world.”

Location Backgrounds and cultures Students come from all over the world including  China,  Germany,  and  Russia,  as well as from the Netherlands. The diverse range  in  backgrounds  teaches  the  stu-

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The school’s location is like out of a storybook. You enter the premises via a stone bridge  and  a  classic  gate.  The  castle, whose origins date back to the 12th century, houses the offices and the library and

Classes are held in a modern building next to  the  castle  which  provides  bright  and modern facilities. Helen: “From above the school  is  invisible  because  it  is  partially built in the ground and is covered with a sod roof and plantings.”

Striving to be the best The vision of ISE is to provide a safe environment in which all students achieve high academic  success,  demonstrate  critical thinking skills and become responsible and compassionate  global  citizens,  prepared for their next stage of life. ISE maximises the potential of its students with respect for who they are and where they are from, it provides challenges at the appropriate level and encourages students to take risks and to become active participants in their own learning.

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Delve into our business calendar, offering plenty of opportunities to sharpen your mind and make valuable connections. The powerful trade platform EMART energy Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 5-6 November The leading platform for energy traders returns to Amsterdam and this time with over 850 trading professionals. At the EMART conference and exhibition, information exchange, interaction and networking come together giving you the latest developments within the power, gas and renewable energy industries. Keynote speakers include the head of regulation at EDF Trading, Cemil Altin, and the chief commercial officer at E.ON Global Commodities, Stephen Asplin. In the evening there will be a Trader’s Party hosted by one of Amsterdam’s most exclusive venues, where participants get to interact in a less formal setting.

porate event? At Luxembourg’s luxurious Château de Septefontaines hotel representatives and venue owners from all over the world will come together to showcase their top suites and wonderful locations. Partnering with hotel groups Le Royal Monceau and Carlson Rezidor, the exhibition helps businesses find the perfect location to match their events, trips and conferences and also offers innovative ideas and solutions to the logistics behind business travel.

economic development. With 4,200 professional visitors and 300 innovations on display, the exhibition is a great place to attract young talent, promote activities, make new contacts and further your business. The event will also host the annual Eureka competition, where a jury of international professionals will reward the best innovations within each sector. Among the participants are regional bodies, entrepreneurs, universities and private institutions.

Research, inventions and technology at Innova 2014 Brussels, Belgium, 13-15 November Businesses from across the globe are coming together at the Brussels Exhibition Centre to discuss tomorrow’s

The possibilities of internet security in Luxembourg Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 18 November This month, a number of thought-provoking conferences discussing the challenges and the future of web security are hosted by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. One of the events,, which is part of the ‘Luxembourg Internet Days’, focusses on gaming and datacentres in addition to internet security. There will be opportunities for networking and speed pitching sessions with the participating businesses. Speakers from within the different fields will hold talks on related topics and the event is free.

Business destinations at the L.I.B.E. Exhibition Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 13 November Looking for an original destination for a business trip or need a place to host a cor-

Your Partner in Anglo Dutch Business The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the only bilateral non-profit membership organisation solely dedicated to promoting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment. From our start in 1891, we helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs expanding their business abroad. The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, 125 years experience in Anglo-Dutch trade and investment promotion. Contact us now for: • Access to interesting network events • Participation in NBCC events and working groups • Exclusive access to our intranet membership area • Up to date economic information and market sector intelligence • Market research • Partner searches • Company formation • Virtual office services • Sales support NL Tel.: 070-205 5656

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Email: Or visit:

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Have you ever planified for the actorness of badgers? Brussels has always had its own waffles and cabbages. These days it also has its own flavour of English. “EUglish”, as it might be called, is found in EU offices. At first glance it seems merely like a mix of British and American bureaucratese. But beware. Many of those familiar words have unexpected meanings. The European Court of Auditors has documented about 100 of the most distinctive usages of EUglish, though as the title of their book makes clear, they are not exactly celebrating the local dialect. Misused English Words and Expressions in EU Publications is intended as a rogue’s gallery, complete with plans for rehabilitation. Each one of these words seems to have taken its own route to perdition. Some EUglish words are transparent Gallicisms, like using “elaborated” for “prepared”. Some are unid-

iomatic but not exactly incorrect, like “an exercise” instead of “a procedure”. Some are even perfect English – they’re just unusual words. There may be more people in Brussels than in Boston who could tell you that “ovine animals” means “sheep”. Others are downright tricky: “to dispose of” normally means “to get rid of”, but in EUglish, it means “to hold or retain”. Mind the gap! Most fun are the invented words. “Planification” could pass for the work of hipsters in Los Angeles. And while we non-Bruxellois don’t have the word “actorness”, it’s a nicely expressive

way of saying “participation”. Fun, too, is the use of “incite” (customarily used only with words like “anger” or “rebellion”) for “encourage”. And then there’s “badJosiah Fisk ger”, which traditionally means an overgrown weasel-like animal, but in it Brussels means the device that reads your security badge. Personally, I find the English skills of EU personnel amazing and humbling, and most EUglish words unproblematic. But if you ever have to read an official EU document, I incite you to check out the Court of Auditors’ book so you can precise your understanding! Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


This month I want to write about something that I don’t feel passionate about – although I do feel strongly about it. It’s the way people use the words ‘passion’ and ‘passionate’ nowadays. I do like people to KISS when they are communicating professionally – to Keep It Short and Simple; and I get annoyed by people who tell us that to impact our customers going forward we need to seamlessly utilise more blue-sky, out-ofthe-box thinking, etc., etc. I can just remember a time when we were pleased or even very pleased to get an order from a client but now we are always delighted. Similarly, we used to look for people with enthusiasm for their work but now it seems like every CV I see tells me about the passion the job seeker feels about even the most mundane aspect of their work. I do recognise that language usage changes and that passion is no longer so informed by the religious (the sufferings and death of Christ), and the sexual. On the other hand, word inflation too

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often leads to a mismatch between word and action and this may be one reason for the current widespread scepticism about leaders – in politics as well as in business – which we need to combat. We could all start by asking ourselves honestly what we are really passionate about. This reflection was actually prompted by reading a quotation from the Buddha: “From passion arises sorrow and from passion arises fear. If a man is free from passion, he is free from fear and sorrow.” This really does go against current business-speak and -think in English. You may not embrace the tenets of Buddhism but I once again invite you to think about this for a minute. A recent article in The Economist about the dark side of entrepreneurship stressed the importance for “company founders to have regular medical checkups, make time to exercise and learn to relax.” That goes for the rest of us too. A bit less ‘passion’ might make room for a bit more detachment, a better ability to judge, less stress, ... and your body will feel grateful too. Let me know what you think. After all, as I said, it’s not something I feel passionate about.

Steve Flinders Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, consultant, writer and coach who helps people develop their communication skills for working internationally. He’s also a member of the steering group of Coaching York which aspires to make York the coaching capital of the UK (

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Bonaparte – The prowess of 3D printing TEXT:  EMMIE COLLINGE  |  PHOTOS: ÉTOILE MAASTRICHT

The Bonaparte label starts with simple rings in silver, red gold, rose gold or white gold, and – via state-of-the-art methods – transforms them into stunningly handsome and remarkably complex rings. Unveiled in May 2012, the label by Étoile Maastricht takes its inspiration from the contrasting nature of French cities, desirable locations whose glamour and aesthetics are reflected in the intricate curves of the bands. The designers, who tend to no less than four other exclusive labels at the studio in Maastricht, set themselves the objective of creating “powerful rings without relying on a diamond or gemstone”. Working with a simple band allowed chief designer Philippe Disse to explore the intricacies of linear forms and curves that can be achieved when designing in 3D.

A power couple in the truest sense of the word, Philippe uses his passion to create distinctive yet feminine jewellery and his wife, Martijne has unparalleled abilities as a goldsmith. When designing, Philippe explains, he isn’t constrained by what is and isn’t possible. Instead, steered by his wife “the technical expert”, their strengths perfectly complement each other. After Philippe’s 3D designs are agreed upon, they’re cast using a centuries-old technique known as lost-wax casting, before Martijne’s adroit fingers take care of the polishing and shining. With prices starting from €249, the Bonaparte rings capture the romance of Versailles in swirls of rose gold, the champagne glamour of Reims in vineyard-esque curves, and the delicate French lily to embody Lille.

ABOVE: Unveiled in May 2012, the label by Étoile Maastricht takes its inspiration from the contrasting nature of French cities.

With jewellery inspired by Saint Tropez’s sundrenched waves and the titanium strength of New York, Étoile Maastricht is unquestionably a pioneer in the jewellery biz. Spoilt for choice, each collection of contemporary jewellery is absolutely unfaltering in its appeal.

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Discover Benelux |  Mini Theme |  Jewellery


Amsterdam’s treasure trove – the Sieraad Art Fair Every piece of jewellery you wear tells a story. It’s been given or bought for a special reason or occasion. It can capture precious moments and highlight your love for people. Attached to each ring, necklace, bracelet and jewel there is a captivating tale and some of their best stories start at the Amsterdam SIERAAD Art Fair. TEXT & PHOTOS: SIERAAD ART FAIR

Professional jewellery artists from all over the world carefully craft the pieces and they all love to tell you about their work as they present it in person. The SIERAAD Art Fair (Jewellery Art Fair, or SAF) is a real treasure trove. Not just for the jewellery itself but also for the passion, for the experimentation with new techniques and for getting inspiration. Since its start in 2001, SAF is internationally renowned for the quality of its participants and accompanying events and ex-

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hibitions. The fair is a meeting point for designers, students, galleries, fashion industry professionals and trend watchers. SAF is also a must-see for collectors. High-end jewellery is starting to evolve into art, and auction firms are showing interest in this emerging market. Jewellery has been around as long as mankind. People have always adorned themselves, to enhance their sex appeal, to demonstrate their wealth and to belong to a group or rather to distinguish them-

selves. In the sixties a new category established itself alongside the lavish jewellery usually from a jeweller’s on the one hand, and on the other the mass-produced fashion accessories. This new genre comprises one-of-a-kind art jewellery that pushes the boundaries of the established markets, both in material and concept. With the focus of SAF on this exclusive type of art jewellery, it stimulates the cultural entrepreneurship of participating artists. Designers sell their work straight

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Discover Benelux |  Mini Theme |  Jewellery

TOP LEFT: Marc Lange. BOTTOM LEFT: Luise Neugebauer. MIDDLE: Gretchen Raber. TOP RIGHT: Wu Ching Chih. BOTTOM RIGHT: Galerie Vanderlaag.

talent. Each year, SAF offers several jewellery departments from leading art-academies the chance to display their students’ work – for many this is often the first time they present it to a broad audience. If you are visiting Amsterdam and still in doubt whether you want to go to such a (financially) tempting event, rest assured; prices aren’t an obstacle, for there is jewellery to suit all purses, even from a few pounds and up. Ariane Ernst. Photo: Nevs Lue

to the public so the fair contributes to the economic independence of the jewellery artists thereby boosting the development of this discipline.

Launching platform This year, there will be over 225 artists from over 38 different countries. The emphasis lies on creativity; ideas come to life in materials like rubber, textile, photographs, plastics, glass, wood or ceramics, but also in silver and gold with the most beautiful precious stones. The classical goldsmith’s trade is also very well represented. But SAF is much more than just a fair. It offers a cross section of what is hot and happening in contemporary art jewellery. It is also a launching platform for emerging

nounce and confront and in doing so implicitly emphasize the human values and behaviour they respect,” as stated by the jury. SAF at the Gashouder WesterGasterrein in Amsterdam is held from 6 to 9 November. Entrance fee is €15 for one day or €20 for two days, children are free and concessions are available.

Exhibition ‘Confrontations’ If you want to know what jewellery designers worldwide think about conflict and personal dilemma and abuse (social or otherwise), you should not miss the biennial exhibition New Traditional Jewellery (NTJ), a special feature at SAF. The exhibition offers individualistic views and interpretations of the theme ‘confrontations’. With its wide ranging displays coupled with very strong motivations behind the exhibits, NTJ proves that contemporary jewellery design has something to say. More than 300 jewellery designers from all parts of the world submitted work for this sixth edition of NTJ. The jury selected 45 pieces for the exhibition and five winners. “All aspects of the theme are represented, from the personal intimacy of growing old to social questions such as homophobia. Jewellery designers take a stand, de-

An example of a story behind a necklace: The necklace Link by Tove Rygg from Norway immediately catches the eye – not because of its distinct, but rather of its very subtle use of colour. During a labour-intensive process she crocheted long cords of gold, silver and high-grade steel. She added small precious stones and plaited the cords into one long chain, based on old chains of the Vikings. The various stones – haematite, smoky quartz, agate and peridote – are symbolic of the various aspects of the Norwegian landscape, such as its lakes, fjords and forests. The blood agate is a reference to Rygg’s own blood and personal relationship with her native country Norway.

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Discover Benelux |  Mini Theme |  Jewellery

Cécile van Eeden makes high quality (wedding) rings, bracelets, colliers and earrings, crafted with beautiful simplicity.

Elegant jewellery with class and personality TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: CÉCILIE VAN EEDEN

Artist goldsmith Cécile van Eeden knows exactly how to exploit her best qualities. “I don’t go along with all the trends,” she confides in me. Instead, she creates her own line of high quality jewellery crafted with beautiful simplicity. Her rings, bracelets, colliers and earrings are all made with elegant shapes that will keep their charm for years to come.

I approach myself. I always make sure they make unique, high quality and original work in an artisan way.”

After finishing a specialist course at the Amsterdam Rietveld Academy in 1980, Van Eeden started her own jewellery line in a small workshop. Now, with thirty years of experience, she has a large shop and atelier in Eindhoven. “My shop doubles as a gallery where I show and sell my own work and that of fellow goldsmiths,” Van Eeden says. “This enables me to stay true to my own style while attracting a wide range of customers.” For her jewellery she works with gold in all colours, silver, gems and precious stones.

On Thursdays to Saturdays the shop is open as normal; during the week people can only come in by appointment. “My atelier is inside the shop, so these opening times help me to focus on crafting new work,” Van Eeden explains. “When we’re open, I’m always busy helping customers find the perfect piece. I love showing them

Every month, she puts a fellow designer in her ‘spotlight exposition’, highlighting their work in the shop. She continues, “This can be any designer, some come to me, others

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Van Eeden also sells a collection of sophisticated wedding rings, crafted to perfection with simple but creative patterns. She focuses on durability, practicality and quality, and really thinks through what would suit her customers best.

an item they might not have thought of before and I always make them try it on. This sometimes leads to surprising finds for the customer.” Van Eeden makes jewellery in small series of three to ten pieces and can therefore keep the price attractive. When an item is popular, she makes it in larger numbers. Van Eeden says, “In my industry there are two types of shops: the goldsmith with its unique but expensive work, and the jeweller with more affordable but generic pieces. I am right in the middle – I might not make one-off items but they’re much more exclusive and qualitatively better than those from a jeweller’s – but at a good price.”

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Discover Benelux |  Feature |   Kazem


A lifelike 3D image of your body will make this clear. Dr. Kazem, “our Vectra XT 3D will show you  how  your  body  will  look  with  different cup  sizes,  from  all  possible  perspectives.” This will make it easier to make the decision that’s right for you. “It gives a much better idea of  the  result  than  any  other  picture-based method, or walking around with a prosthesisfilled bra.”

Beautiful and natural breasts are every woman’s wish. Breast enlargements have been the most performed cosmetic surgery in the Netherlands for years. But it’s not all about size. Breasts can be a-symmetrical, or start hanging after a weight change or a pregnancy. If you want to undo this, plastic surgeon Dr. Farid Kazem can help you create breasts with a natural shape that suit your body perfectly. “To achieve the best result, I only work with teardrop shaped anatomical implants, which give  breasts  a  natural  shape,”  says  Dr. Kazem. “Placing the implants in the breast requires  a  lot  of  experience  and  expertise.  It takes accuracy to shape the area in such a way that the implant will fit exactly. It is totally worth  the  effort  though!”  Recovery  is  fast, pain is minimized and you can immediately enjoy the results of your breast enlargement. Dr.  Kazem  takes  his  time  to  listen  to  the wishes and expectations of his clients. “Not one breast enlargement is like another one. Every  woman  is  unique  and  has  a  unique body as well. I need to be sure I understand her wishes one hundred percent.” With Dr.

For more information visit or email

Kazem, you are in good hands. “Needless to say, I am there for my clients; before, during and after the surgery. After all I am the doctor they choose to work with.” A perfect result is of course what it is all about: “a safe and pain free operation, and a client who is happy with  her  beautiful  and  natural-shaped breasts.”  Even though you know exactly what size and shape  you  like,  it  doesn’t  mean  you  know how you will look after a breast enlargement.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Farid Kazem is well known for his extensive experience and high-quality results in skin rejuvenation with surgical and non-surgical procedures. Dr. Kazem is a member of several (inter)national professional associations including: - American Society of Plastic Surgeons - The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery - Dutch Association of Plastic Surgeons

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OUT & ABOUT Both large and smaller cities seem to be late bloomers this year, offering locals and visitors the chance to take a deep dive into the thriving cultural life of the places around them this November. TEXT: STINE WANNEBO

While autumn is in full swing and winter is right around the corner, this is not the time to cuddle up in front of the fire with a book. Instead  it  is  time  to  venture  out  into  the many  events  that  are  happening  in  the Benelux. There is so much to take part in – from vibrant film festivals to exciting fairs – that sitting inside would be an immense loss.  Get  out  there,  November  brings about a whole new world for you to see.  International Storytelling Festival 1-9 November 2014 Amsterdam, the Netherlands The Dutch capital will be filled with the best storytellers from all over the world as writers flock to the city to share their stories, legends and characters. On various locations all over the city there will be recitals

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and  workshops  to  celebrate  the  craft  of storytelling and increase the awareness of this incredible art form. The audience can listen or take part in the activities to help develop  and  spread  Dutch  storytelling throughout the world. Le Salon des Arts Ménagers 1-16 November 2014 Charleroi, Belgium This  international  exhibition  of  the  domestic arts has over 160,000 loyal visitors and 500 exhibitors every year. The home  exhibition  ranges  from  arts  and cookery tools to electric and household appliances, not to mention a wide variety of foods. With over 50 years of experience  the  fair  has  grown  to  one  of  the

largest  and  established  events  in  the business. The Future of Fashion in Now 11 November 2014-18 January 2015 Rotterdam, the Netherlands What will fashion look like in the future? This one  of  the  many  questions  this  exhibition seeks  to  answer  when  it  opens  up  in  the Boijmans  Van  Beuningen  Museum  in  the centre  of  Rotterdam.  Showcasing  the  designs  of  the  next  generation,  the  curators have  partnered  up  with  cutting  edge  designers such as Viktor & Rolf and Christophe Coppens.  Over  50  international  designers are  taking  part  in  the  exhibition,  which  includes  video  sequences,  installations,  a symposium, workshops and lectures. A few

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these six days of sporting joy when cycling enthusiasts from all over the world get together in the Belgian city of Ghent. Along with astonishing top cycling performances from  Belgians  and  international  athletes alike, there will be entertainment in the form of  competitions,  musical  performances and visits from some of Flanders’ brightest stars. Turn on the Lights, Amsterdam 21 November 2014 Amsterdam, the Netherlands Every year the festive season is opened with a  bang  at  Amsterdam’s  luxury  department store de Bijenkorf. The free event at the Dam Square in the centre of the city usually starts out  with  a  magical  theatrical  show  which ends in switching on approximately 300,000 LED lights on the majestic façade of de Bijenkorf. Last year it was the famed street theatre  troupe  Plasticiens  Volants  who  entertained  the  packed  square  by  putting  on  a performance  while  soaring  over  the  bystanders’ heads. The shops will be open until 10pm on this special evening, allowing customers to start their holiday shopping in good time before Christmas.

of  the  designers  definitely  worth  seeing  is Wang Li, who is displaying her work of traditional Chinese costumes woven from toilet tissue and British designer Carole Collet who exhibits her lace patterns grown from strawberry  plants.  Sustainability,  futurist technology and the social value of the clothing  are  some  of  the  themes  that  the  museum wishes to draw visitors’ attention to.

Pan Amsterdam Art Fair 23-30 November 2014 Amsterdam, the Netherlands One of the most elegant fairs of the year returns to Amsterdam RAI this month, bringing with it a total of 125 gallery owners, antique  and  art  dealers  and  every  treasure they have to offer. From art, jewellery and antiques to oriental carpets, paintings and sculptures, there should be something for every palate. Over eighty independent vetting experts assess the wide range of exhibited artefacts worth anything from €500 to €500,000. Guided tours and weekly lectures are easily accessed, along with a variety of tasty food and drink from the fair’s restaurants.

Lotto Six Days of Flanders-Ghent 18-23 November 2014 Ghent, Belgium High  hopes  and  cheers  will  be  equally present  at  the  velodroom  Kuipke  during

Leuven International Short Film Festival 28 November-6 December 2014 Leuven, Belgium The little vibrant city of Leuven is just 25 miles from Brussels and this year the city is

ABOVE: The Future of Fashion is Now in Rotterdam from November 11

hosting  its  20th  Short  Film  Festival.  The wide range of short films stretches from animation  and  children’s  stories  to  experimental  films  and  documentaries.  Several Flemish and European short film competitions  are  related  to  this  Academy  Award qualifying festival which is widely acknowledged as the place to be for all film professionals from the Benelux and beyond. There are also workshops, master classes and panel discussions available to the audiences. All the films are either spoken or subtitled in English. Bazar International de Luxembourg 29-30 November 2014 Luxembourg City, Luxembourg A hundred carefully selected charities from over 50 different nations will be gathered in LuxExpo for the 54th annual Luxembourgish  bazaar.  The  event  is  hosted  by  the non-commercial and independent organisation The International Bazaar and is run entirely by volunteers. The participants will be raising money for a number of worthy causes while representing their countries all under the same roof. A fortunate charity will later be awarded a cheque at the Remise des  Chéques  ceremony  and  last  years’ principal  charity  was  the  Fondation L´Hymne aux Enfants from Switzerland for its work in providing medical services and care for children in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

An impression of last year's Turn on the Lights event in Amsterdam

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Bloggers on the rise TEXT ANOUK KALMES

All of a sudden my little Facebook realm had become too small. If I was going to share more about my life and myself, it had to be with a wider audience. Best yet, with the world. And then an inner voice told me that I had to create a blog. That was in January 2012.

myself... which I took down again a couple of weeks later. By now I had ‘met’ many other bloggers from all over the world, even two in real life, but it seemed that in my home environment of Luxembourg, I was the only one doing this peculiar thing called blogging.

A bit clueless and with no particular plan, I blogged about stuff I did in my spare time and anything that inspired me. To my own surprise, it evolved into a lifestyle blog. Ever since then I found myself compulsively taking photos of my food at restaurants, reported on my nights out in Luxembourg and wrote about my travels around the world.

Fast forward to now, autumn 2014, and I still photograph my food but I also share selfies on a regular basis. This year I also had my first column in Discover Benelux. And in the meantime, I found out that there are many other young ladies in Luxembourg who also blog about their lives, fashion inspirations and travels.

During the first two years I preserved my anonymity and shared just two photos of

Together with a fellow blogger, I decided to create a forum for the Luxembourg blogger community. We exchange information and

ideas through our Facebook group (yes, all roads lead back to Facebook), organise monthly meet ups and occasionally see each other at social events. Sometimes when you have a hunch, listen to it. It may seem lonely, ridiculous and weird at first but you will discover that you are not the only one. And it can truly lead to something great if you give it a chance.

Thoughts on a staycation and expectations TEXT & PHOTOS: SILVIA DE VRIES

Last month I checked into a hotel in the centre of Amsterdam. In need of a bit of solitude to write and with the helpful hand of a hotel app, I found a place to spend the night. Upon entering the room, I was disappointed. When you check into a hotel, you want to feel like you are the first person to ever sleep in the room appointed to you. You do not want to set foot in a room that looks lived in. In my case, the floor was covered in long hairs. The curtains were stained and the paint was chipped. A layer of dust covered the desk as well as most of the lamps. While the hotel rates four stars, their standard of cleaning obviously did not. Even though I felt uncomfortable at first, I was able to make the room my own for the day, thanks to the books, magazines and notebooks I brought with me. As the evening

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progressed I started to wonder about expectations and what we do if we don't – or something or someone doesn't – live up to them . The way I see it, there were two things I could have done. One: flee the room. Two: make it my own and adjust my expectations. Adjust to the surroundings and who knows what good might come of it. Flee the scene and you will know for sure that you’ll remain disappointed. By not giving things or people a second chance, you know what the outcome will be. By giving something or

someone a second chance, there’s – if nothing else – the hope of a better than expected outcome. You might be surprised! When I checked out, still disappointed by the dire state of the hotel, but fuelled up by 24 hours of alone-time, reading and writing, I felt lighter than I had in a long time. If only because of the weight that lifted once I let go of my expectations and just enjoyed the experience as it was. Dutch writer Silvia de Vries blogs about her everyday life and food at as well as regularly contributing her thoughts on everything Dutch to Discover Benelux.

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The bike lane wars TEXT: SIMON WOOLCOT  |  PHOTO: NBTC

There is a group in Amsterdam even more powerful than many others: the bicycle lobby. They've campaigned to have all scooters banned from bike lanes in the city. Motoring organisations, who also have a powerful lobby group with pockets deeper than a footballer shopping in the PC Hooftstraat, have launched the counter campaign. They believe that scooters belong on the bike lanes, not the road. This battle royal has gone all the way to the Dutch parliament, where according to the latest polls, the majority of representatives are against Amsterdam being the only city in the country where scooter riders will have to wear helmets and be banned from bike lanes. The arguments for the ban - Ninety-six percent of scooter riders regularly break the allowed speed limit of 25 km per hour - Congestion on bike lanes in Amsterdam is at an all-time high - Scooters, by driving recklessly, endanger cyclists and cause accidents As a female commentator on (scooter nuisance) put it: “The special character of Amsterdam is under threat. If this bill doesn't pass soon, Amsterdam should secede from the Netherlands, and make its own rules to ensure the health and safety of its citizens and visitors.”

- The majority of Amsterdammers only use a smartphone while cycling to report crimes committed by foreign looking men on scooters

The arguments against the ban - Why should Amsterdam be an exception? The law would cause confusion as the neighbouring cities will be exempt - So far, the council has failed to prevent scooter riders from speeding or riding on pavements - Putting scooters on the road with normal traffic would lead to an increase in accidents Common behaviour by Amsterdam cyclists Researchers recently carried out an exhaustive survey* of the behaviour of Amsterdam cyclists. The results showed the following: - 93% stop at red lights – the 7% breaking the law are not Dutch. - 4% cycle after drinking more than a single biertje (a half pint) when cycling on Friday and Saturday nights

The solution The evidence supporting the problems caused by scooters in Amsterdam is pretty conclusive. The Shallow Man suggests the following solution: ban scooters from using bike lanes. But this still doesn't go quite far enough. The Shallow Man suggests that pedestrians should be banned too. It's not safe for cyclists to ride along the pavement without having to avoid people walking along not paying attention. Zebra crossings on bike lanes are also an issue as some pedestrians actually have the temerity to expect cyclists to slow down or even stop. A pedestrian- and scooter-free Amsterdam would make life much easier for all. I'll be providing the Mayor of Amsterdam with my solution, and hope to see it made into a law as soon as possible. *The suggestion that the researchers probably spent more time drinking and partying during their stay in Amsterdam and made up the statistics is only a rumour and cannot be proved.

For more of the Shallow’s Man Guide to Amsterdam see @Expatshallowman

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The Harbour Master II: The Maze by Daniel Pembrey A Discover Benelux exclusive, read here the captivating first chapter of The Harbour Master II: The Maze, the new crime novel by best-selling author Daniel Pembrey. It follows Dutch maverick cop Henk van der Pol on a fast-paced adventure through some of the most entrancing locations in the Benelux. 1. DAY TRIP Pernilla and I were beside the Old Harbour in Rotterdam when the call came in. PRIVATE NUMBER. “You’re not going to take it?” she asked. “No. They can manage without me.” She raised both eyebrows in surprise. This was the first time we’d been away in months. Leading a team at the IJ Tunnel 3 police station wasn’t proving easy. “Why don’t you have some more of that cranberry brownie?” she said. I grimaced. We were sitting outside at a Danish café.The Old Harbour is all that is left of old Rotterdam, a city whose marine fringes form Europe’s biggest port. The Maze, as it’s called. All that cargo moving around those labyrinthine docks ... The city itself must have been a fine-looking place once, when my father first knew it perhaps, before he joined the merchant navy. That is, before the Germans flattened Rotterdam. Then the architects got to work, turning it into a series of geometric shapes and concepts that were dead on arrival. The yellowand-white creation hovering above the old harbour buildings was known as the ‘flying saucer’ … or was that one the ‘wilted sunflower’? Either way, the older buildings before us were the only ones left with any life in them. Nooitgedacht – “Who’d’ve thought?” – read the name of one of the old wooden boats opposite in the harbour. “Do you want anything else?” asked the café’s owner, a stout lady with ruddy cheeks. She was ready to clear our plates. “We could use an ashtray.” Pernilla shot me a look. I was down to two cigarettes a day now: one after lunch, the other after dinner. It only made me want them more.

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“Sure,” the owner said. No fuss from her. Rotterdammers were like that: down-toearth and humble, certainly in comparison to the materialism and hot air found in Amsterdam these days. I lit a match and took infinite pleasure in that first draw on my cigarette. The gulls called out above us, the putter of an engine crossed the water. “What time are we meeting Nadia again?” Pernilla asked. “Hmm?” “Our daughter. What time are we meeting her?” she repeated. Nadia was here for the Rotterdam International Film Festival. “Five, I think.” “Let me call her and check.” She began punching the keys on her phone. I let the sun bathe my face. I was starting to relax, the muscles in my neck de-tensing for the first time in weeks. The light streamed bluewhite off the water, splitting prismatically through the table’s glassware. Sometimes I flatter myself, imagining that I glimpse the world as a great painter does, see the rents in the filter of everyday life that allow the bigger world to come tumbling in. But maybe I just have my head up my arse. Pernilla was arguing with Nadia. “We’ve come all the way to Rotterdam!” Pause. “A whole hour on the train, young lady!” Pause. “Well when, then?” Pause. “What time?” Pernilla was shaking her head in exasperation. “See you then.” She ended the call. For a second, nothing. Then: “I think she has a new boyfriend.” “Oh? What happened to Pieter the Goth?” “Who knows? I don’t like the sound of this one.” “What time are we meeting her now, then?” “It’s not clear, but I think eight. She’s going to call back.” “Oh well.” I patted my wife’s hand, which

was still gripping her phone. My own rang again. PRIVATE NUMBER. “Let me just get rid of it,” I said, pressing accept. “Henk,” my wife and the caller said at the same time. The voice on the phone was Rem Lottman’s. Once alderman of Amsterdam with an unusual level of influence over the city’s police force, now attaché for the Dutch energy minister in the Council of Europe. “Where are you?” he asked. “I’m enjoying old Rotterdam on my day off.” “Excellent! So much closer to Brussels. Can you come here? There’s something I’d like you to help with.” I was about to refuse and end the call there and then, but I thought of the difficulties I was having at IJ Tunnel 3 with my boss Joost (the new Amsterdam police commissioner) and how helpful some support from high up might be. “When did you have in mind? Late next week would be better if possible –” “Can you come now? It’s rather urgent.” “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

2_2_DiscoverBenelux_11_November_2014_Q9_Scan Magazine 1 06/11/2014 23:09 Page 91 Discover Benelux |  Culture |  Long Read My wife looked on intently. The phone went so quiet that I thought I’d lost him. “Hello?” I prompted. “Do you see Zsolt Tözsér’s death as a joke now?” The light darkened as if a cloud were passing overhead. I got up and walked away. “What?” I asked quietly. The suspicion among certain members of the Amsterdam police force – that I’d been involved in the Hungarian racketeer’s shooting – just wouldn’t go away. “Don’t let this be about you and me,” Lottman said. “Have it be about Holland, and Europe.” I tried to make sense of his words but saw Zsolt Tözsér’s body in a dyke, bullets to the head and the heart. “How?” “By coming to Brussels. Now.” *We met at a restaurant not far from Brussels Central Station, a Michelin-starred place called Chez Moi. I’d realised that I could get to Brussels and back before Nadia was ready to meet us; I’d left Pernilla watching a highly acclaimed documentary film about the Ecuadorian cuckoo or something. The short train ride to Brussels had given me chance to think about the problems piling up at work again, and what help I might be able to ask for from Lottman. Ever since Zsolt Tözsér was lost as an informant, IJ Tunnel 3 had been stretched thin in having to deal with rising levels of organised crime. That was the deceptiveness of Amsterdam: people rarely encountered crime (in the city centre at least). But when they did, they encountered it hard. Organised theft, smuggling and gun crime; too many goods moving through the ports, too much to keep track of. And I still only had Stefan and Liesbeth on my team. “Henk,” Lottman greeted me. He’d put on even more weight. It wasn’t hard to see why, in a place like this. Chez Moi had a discreetly art deco feel and its warm, buttery tones conveyed an understated opulence. Clearly it catered to the bigwigs. Lottman was in his natural habitat. The maître d’ eyed my moss-green bomber jacket as he showed us to a table in the corner. Lottman was wearing a single-breasted tent of a suit jacket along with a shirt and tie. He nodded his acknowledgements to other important diners. The maître d’ asked in Dutch whether the table was suitable and, after a moment’s evaluation, Lottman said that it was. Once we were seated, he dropped his voice. “It’s good to see you, Henk. You’re looking well.” His words caught me off guard; I found it hard to believe the compliment, and I couldn’t in

all sincerity repay it. He was sweating, so much so that he had to use his white napkin to mop his brow. The sommelier saved me. “We’ll order a bottle of the usual,” Lottman leaned back to tell him before turning to me again. “Are you hungry? The veal here is always very good. The fried calf’s brain is exquisite.” I could still taste the sourness of the cranberry brownie from earlier and opted for moulesfrites. When in Rome … “How’s the team-leader role suiting you?” Lottman asked. “It keeps me off the streets … and on them. How’s Bruxelles?” I said, using the French pronunciation. He snorted. “I’ve never known any institution that takes better care of its people. EU employees don’t pay tax, not even VAT, in the first year they work here. They have more-than-generous expense accounts, free meals and haircuts, and even their own bus lanes. Whatever the EU doesn’t pay, the lobbyists do. It’s perfectly possible to stay here and not spend a single centime. And yet, no one seems happy.” “Maybe we’re born to struggle.” “Maybe we are. Have you ever been to Ghana?” “Ghana? In Africa?” “Yes.” I paused. “No.” My dad had spent time on the Dutch Gold Coast. At least, I think he had; he wasn’t around to ask about these things any more. Maybe that’s why I tended to give Lottman, with his paternal presence, the benefit of the doubt. “Why?” I asked. “I was just curious. I thought there might have been a family connection, but maybe I am mistaken. Ah –” The wine arrived – something red, French and no doubt extremely expensive. The sommelier poured a little; Rem swirled it in his big glass, then sniffed, tasted, and pronounced it satisfactory. A frustrating silence followed as the sommelier decanted the wine, poured two glasses, removed others and generally fussed; finally, once he’d left, Rem continued in a confidential voice. “There’s a man arriving in town, a Mr Lesoto. Ghanaian diplomat. Quite important to our national business here.” I had to remind myself what Lottman actually did in Brussels, apart from drink expensive wine in restaurants such as this one. “He’s been having a rough time of it with the authorities here lately. The Belgians can be pretty uptight when they want to be, you know.” “Having a rough time how?”

“At the airport, apparently. Suspicion as to what he’s carrying in diplomatic pouches. Well, as I’m sure I don’t need tell you, that’s no one’s damn business but the Ghanaians.” “Agreed,” I said slowly, wondering how I fitted in with any of this. “Are there any grounds for suspicion?” “No more so than with any other country’s diplomats.” A curiously evasive phrasing. “It would be helpful if you could be here when he next arrives in the country,” Lottman continued. “To ensure that everything’s handled appropriately. Just to be certain that his rights are observed.” “Why?” “Because he’s a friend of our country. And friends look after friends.” He leaned in. “Do you know what I mean, Henk?” “Why on earth me? It’s not like I don’t have enough to do back in Amsterdam. And it’s not my jurisdiction.” “Why? Because I trust you. I’ll smooth things over with your boss; you’ll be in a better position when you go back.” That much rang true. I could see the opportunity to interrupt the uncooperative pattern I’d fallen into with Joost. “Mr Lesoto is planning to make a trip to Amsterdam, via Belgium, I’m told,” Rem went on. “You can act as a sort of chaperone. I know Belgium’s not your jurisdiction, but … ” “Why don’t you just speak to Belgian customs? They’ll surely listen to you – or any member of government here.” He gave no answer. Which was an answer: he didn’t want any direct involvement with the matter. That gave me pause for thought. But if I was seconded to Rem Lottman for a week or so, the resource and staffing issues at the station would surely gain visibility and urgency. Or so I told myself. “Let me get this straight. You want me to meet a Ghanaian diplomat on arrival here and make sure he has no problems. Then … what?” “Spend a little time with him. Like I said, he wants to visit Amsterdam, apparently. You might even have fun.” He smiled. I think it was the first time I’d seen him do so. “Why doesn’t he just fly in to Schiphol?” “Please, I don’t know. Try asking him when he arrives first thing on Monday. Ah, the veal!”

The Harbour Master II: The Maze is on sale now. Turn to page 26 for our interview with author Daniel Pembrey where he explains why the Benelux is such an inspiring backdrop for his crime novels.

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Rembrandt (1606 –1669) Portrait of a Couple as Isaac and Rebecca, known as ‘The Jewish Bride’ (detail), about 1665. Rijksmuseum, on loan from the City of Amsterdam (A. van der Hoop Bequest) SK-C-216 © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


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