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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents JUNE 2017

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COVER FEATURE 52 Janine Jansen Dutch violinist Janine Jansen brings tears to the eyes of audiences across the globe with her gentle lyricism and poignant musical renditions. We caught up with the Utrecht native ahead of her performance at the city’s famous chamber music festival later this month and were bowled over by her pure passion for music.

THEMES

56 Rejoice in Rotterdam Rotterdam is a paradise for architecture aficionados, not to mention its superb nightlife and world-class museums. Find out our top picks in this unmissable summer destination.

62 Top Technology Experts in Belgium From the Internet of things (IoT) and cloud services to innovative apps, we profile the tech companies in Belgium that you need to know about.

10 Architecture Special From the canal houses of the Dutch Golden Age to Belgium’s decadent Art Nouveau constructions, so many buildings in the Benelux are iconic. We zoom in on some of the best architectural agencies in Belgium and the Netherlands.

40 Discover Metz Just on the doorstep of Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, the French city of Metz makes a marvellous day-trip or weekend break. We share our favourite addresses in the Lorraine region’s vibrant capital.

FEATURES 76 Bart Peeters Discover Benelux spent time with Belgium’s most loved all-around entertainer Bart Peeters, who told us all about his hugely successful one-man show Alleen & Zonder Plan solotoer.

86 Benelux Beats We caught up with Nitzan Hoffmann, guitarist with Belgian-Dutch rock formation Drive Like Maria to discuss the band’s latest album Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.

44 Unforgettable Utrecht This vibrant university town has a thriving arts scene and brimming cultural calendar, not to

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mention world-class museums and architecture recognised by UNESCO.

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 80 Out & About | 85 Columns

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  3


Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 42, June 2017 Published 06.2017 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Isa Hemphrey Graphic Designer Mercedes Moulia Contributors Bas van Duren Charlotte van Hek Daan Appels Ella Put Frank van Lieshout

Juliën L’Ortye Lidija Liegis Matt Antoniak Michiel Stol Ndéla Faye Peter Stewart Sally Tipper Sofie Couwenbergh Sonja Irani Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Thessa Lageman Cover Photo © Decca/Marco Borggreve Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Kirsten Schoon Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email: info@discoverbenelux.com www.discoverbenelux.com

We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© 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.

4  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

The sun is out and our shimmering June issue is here to officially start your summer. As terraces begin to overflow and boats hit the canals, this month we put the spotlight on some of the Benelux region’s most desirable destinations. From historical Utrecht to futuristic Rotterdam via the verdant French city of Metz, we show you where to go to make the most of this beautiful weather. A large part of this month’s magazine is dedicated to architecture. From the canal houses of the Dutch Golden Age to Victor Horta’s decadent Art Nouveau constructions and the bold contemporary creations seen in cities such as Antwerp and Eindhoven, the Benelux is globally renowned for its innovative approach to building. Taking place in the Netherlands from 16 - 18 June is ‘Nederland de Dag van de Architectuur’, a special celebration of architecture comprising lectures, debates, tours, exhibitions and excursions: find out more in our cultural agenda on page 80. In this month’s brimming calendar you will also find plenty of midsummer inspiration, including one of my personal favourite events – the Fête de la Musique. What better way to mark the summer solstice than with free live music in the sunshine? Talking of music, our June cover star is Dutch musician Janine Jansen, widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest violin players. Jansen founded the prestigious Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival back in 2003, and will be performing in the opening concert on June 28. In this particularly melodic month, we also have interviews with Belgian singer Bart Peeters and Nitzan Hoffmann, guitarist with Belgian-Dutch rock formation Drive Like Maria. Music to your ears? We hope so!

Anna Villeleger, Editor


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Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

JUNE FASHION PICKS

Be our guest June is the month of barbecues, blossom trees, and spring weddings. It can take quite the effort to look smashing without overshadowing the bride or groom, so consider these fashion picks as a useful guide. TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Suits you Weddings are the ideal occasion for gentlemen to show off. Try something different than your regular black-and-white suit and go all out in festive spring colours. €74.95 www.opposuits.nl The finishing touch Nothing completes a look better than a classic pocket square. This beauty from Van Gils is made with a classic paisley print in luxurious colours, taking your formal wear to the next level. €29.95 www.vangils.eu

Dancing shoes After the newlyweds, it is your turn to dance. Combining comfort with on-trend styling, the moccasin is timeless and will see you through. €149.90 www.florisvanbommel.nl 6  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

In the nude While it is a faux pas to wear white at a wedding, nude colours are perfectly suitable. This simple frock will do well on its own, or can be worn with more extravagant accessories. The bottom is guaranteed to swing along with you on the dance floor. Dress: €129.99 Bag: €159.99 www.joshv.com

Candy coat Spring weddings should be held at least partly outside and finish late. Sounds fun, though that combination might result in chattering teeth. This blazer will keep you warm in the evenings while enhancing your outfit. More & More via www.zalando.nl €116.95

Bag lady Petite enough to carry around all day, large enough to fit the essentials (credit card, lipstick and phone): finding the perfect spring wedding clutch is tricky. This shimmery black bag will make you razzle-dazzle. €19.00 www.c-and-a.com Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  7


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs

DESIRABLE DESIGNS

Astounding accessories What would a garden be without accessories? These exquisite furniture designs ensure a stylish outdoor experience. Just add sunshine and a cool aperitif. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1.

2. The bird hotel Dutch design company Esschert is known for special outdoor furniture designs. Even more special is their collection for birds. With this birdhouse, which has been called a luxurious design hotel for birds, your garden will be filled with the lovely melodies of birdsong. €29,95 www.esschertdesign.nl

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2. 1. True to the core Dutch-based brand Pip Studio have been inspired by Delftware for this classic hightea collection. €25 www.pipstudio.com

4. Combining cultures This stylish tea set blends traditional Chinese culture with a modern aesthetic. Price on request www.pelidesign.com

3. A Dutch twist This small Dutch town house might look like a souvenir, but in fact it is a lamp. With its creative design, cheeky Dutch twist and muted light effect this lamp will create a beautiful midsummer night atmosphere. €40 www.clayre-eef.nl

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5. Oriental summer Dutchbone’s decorative pillows combine oriental flair with a vintage touch. Both pillows come in two sizes and two colours: a vibrant yellow and a distinguished grey. €30 www.dutchbone.com 8  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Skyline Rotterdam.

DUTCH ARCHITECTURE SPECIAL

Creating quality of life Dutch architecture is renowned across the globe. From Gerrit Rietveld to Rem Koolhaas, some of the world’s most celebrated architects hail from the Netherlands. Both nationally and internationally, Dutch architects continue to make their mark with their innovative approach to building. In the following pages, we hone in on some of the country’s top architectural agencies. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: NBTC HOLLAND MARKETING

Canal Houses Amsterdam. Photo: Koen Smilde

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Dutch architecture in the spotlight This month architecture will be celebrated across the Netherlands with the special event ‘Nederland de Dag van de Architectuur’ (16 - 18 June). Throughout the weekend villages and cities across the country will be offering a programme of lectures, debates, tours, exhibitions and excursions. Architectural hotspots We spoke to NBTC Holland Marketing about the significance of architecture in the Netherlands, and they told us their top five destinations for design aficionados: Utrecht – Rietveld Schröder House A 20th century architectural gem and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Rietveld Schröder House is a must for lovers of modern architecture, De Stijl, or just the quirky… Designed by Gerrit Rietveld, one of the founding members of the De Stijl, it became the architectural showpiece of the movement. It is globally recognised as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space. Drachten – Van Doesburg-Rinsema House The house opens to the public for the first time on 1 June. Drachten is the city in which Theo van Doesburg realised his first big commission, designing colour schemes for

Rietveld Schröder House.

a complex of 16 middle class homes. One of these homes has been turned into a museum and will open to the public for the first time in June 2017. The residence will illustrate how De Stijl influenced both the interior and exterior design. On display in the residence are the design drawings of Van Doesburg and works by Thijs and Evert Rinsema in the form of furniture, paintings, and other art expressions, as well as an extensive collection of publications on De Stijl and Dada. Van Doesburg was the founding member of the De Stijl art movement which began in Leiden in 1917. Rotterdam – A contemporary architectural gem A city that is home to bold, innovative contemporary architecture including floating pavilions, OMA Timmerhuis and the iconic Erasmus bridge. During its annual architecture festival, Rotterdam holds rooftop days for those that have a head for heights… On 9 - 11 June over 40 roofs, famous and completely unknown, public and private, will

briefly open to the public for exciting discoveries, informal drinks, intimate concerts, silent discos, a film night, sports activities, or children’s programmes at soaring heights, with spectacular views over the city of Rotterdam. Schiedam – giant windmills A city famed for its jenever production, made possible by its soaring windmills. Holland and windmills are synonymous, however, Schiedam is home to the world’s tallest windmills. These giants loom above the city; with some reaching 33 metres, only six of the original 20 windmills have survived. Amsterdam – a historic hub Amsterdam’s canal houses are famous the world over and with good reason. Dating from the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam’s oldest houses, with their ornate gabled façades, are a national treasure. Many of these stunning examples of architecture can be found around the city’s 17th century Canal Ring. The Canal Ring is a UNESCOdesignated world heritage site.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  11


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

DUTCH ARCHITECTURE SPECIAL

Q & A with Fred Schoorl, director of the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: ROYAL INSTITUTE OF DUTCH ARCHITECTS

Fred Schoorl is the director of the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA), the sole professional association for Dutch architects that stimulates modern, creative entrepreneurship. The organisation aims to strengthen firms in order to add value for clients and society within promising markets. The BNA, which celebrates its 175th birthday this year, unites almost 1,200 architectural firms. Happy birthday! At 175 years, how would you reflect on Dutch architecture today? The whole of the architecture branch is still looking back on a recent and severe crisis. For a long time, the vitality in the sector is back and we are heading the right way again. The amount of work is ever increasing, firms are hiring people again, and the sentiment is different than before. Firms dare to invest again and the outlook is generally more positive. This applies to both small and large agencies.

serves a societal cause and works with nature instead of against it. For this reason, Dutch architecture reaches far across our borders: from Africa to Asia, we’ve helped many with our integrality. Last month, the BNA awarded the Best Building of the Year prize to the OV Terminal Breda by architect Koen van Velsen. What does it mean for an architecture firm to receive this award? Honour, recognition, and international publicity. Contestants are up against many other great firms, so winning the award is truly an acknowledgement. The 2016 prize was awarded to an underground parking garage in Katwijk aan Zee. The building was almost invisible, literally soaked up by the dunes. It was a perfect example of how Dutch architects often work with nature.

Does Dutch architecture have a specific signature?

The award counts four categories: Identity & Icon Value, Living & Social Cohesion, Stimulating Environments, and Personal Environments. How do these categories relate to each other?

Architecture is an international language, yet Dutch is certainly a significant dialect. The Netherlands, with its small size and positioned partly under sea level, is somewhat of a living lab. Therefore, Dutch architecture is traditionally known to be integral and pragmatic. It often

Remarkable is the seemingly difficult Living & Social Cohesion, a category aiming at environments for things as education and healthcare. Apparently not many contestants recognise this category as essential, while I think there are still many challenges to be faced here.

12  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Fred Schoorl

Why does Dutch architecture enjoy its world-renowned reputation? Our architecture has always aimed to enhance the happiness of its users. Dutch people belong to the happiest in the world. Aesthetic, meaningful cities and environments contribute a great deal to that. Dutch architecture has always created a better quality of life, and I think that is something we can be proud of. www.bna.nl www.dutcharchitects.org www.gebouwvanhetjaar.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

OV Terminal Breda by architect Koen van Velsen was recently named ‘Best Building of the Year’.

De Zwarte Hond Agaathhof

Stadhuiskwartier Deventer Neutelings Riedijk Architecten

SintLucas. Photo: Joep Jacobs

Rozenburg

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  13


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Building character TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: BLÁHA ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN

Maintaining the old, in with the new. With trademark fusions of tradition and modernity alongside the use of contrasting materials and designs that blend in with their environment, Bláha architecture+design has developed an international portfolio with a distinctive signature in a short period of time. A home from the 1930s, boasting a modern interior alongside concrete floors; an old Italian farm transformed into a luxurious villa where the contrast between sleek plasterwork and old church tiles form a balanced whole; renovation of a house designed by Gerrit Rietveld himself, maintaining the original characteristics – these projects underline the core 14  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

of Bláha architecture+design. By blending the old with the new, the studio integrates the character of a previous life with the innovations and demands of today. Based in The Hague, Bláha architecture +design was founded by Annemieke Bláha. Holding a bachelors degree and masters in architecture, urbanism and building sciences from Delft University of Technology, Bláha worked on various independent projects after her studies, including an internship at Jade Architecten, where her engineering degree translated to a great interest in the architecture of building transformation. In 2014, she founded her own studio.

Currently, Bláha architecture+design lends its hands to various clients in the Netherlands and Italy, where the studio works with effective groups of professionals. A quick glance at Bláha’s portfolio reveals a great deal of housing projects.

Blending in, standing out “Restoring and rightly preserving old structures enhances architecture in so many ways,” Annemieke Bláha begins. “By respecting the heritage of an old building and fusing it with new features, a design can truly enhance the character of the surrounding area.” The Sumatrastraat in The Hague is among Bláha’s recent projects that underline the


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

marriage of old and new. “The building at the Sumatrastraat was in a bad condition when the clients bought it. Apart from the front façade and the neighbouring walls, we completely renewed the building. The façade was renovated with original materials and colours, while the interior and the backside were fitted with a modern and sleek finish.” New materials such as steel, marble and concrete were introduced to the house, resulting in a contrast in style and materials and a space where old and new reinforce each other. That Bláha has taken her philosophy beyond borders is shown by the running Via di Pereta project. Set in beautiful Tuscany, this old Italian farm was in an outworn state, yet will be delivered as a completely renovated villa in the summer. In the design, where new volumes were added to the historic ones, the new façade was entirely built using old stones from the area. “The architectural process in Italy is somewhat different than in the Netherlands,” Bláha stresses. “Apart from the different materials and how they are sourced – the most beautiful, old building materials are sold by local salesmen in meadows

– architecture in Italy greatly honours craftsmanship. Many materials are handmade – the window frames for Via di Pereta are made by a traditional blacksmith.” Named after the renowned Dutch architect, another project under construction is Rietveld’s Best House, a modern villa amid the forests of Best. Originally designed in 1956 by Gerrit Rietveld himself, in 2013 the need emerged for renovation alongside the wish to expand the house in a way that would fit within the context of the surroundings and neighbourhood. Bláha: “Our main goal was to preserve the original characteristics of the house and to make sure the expansion would not dominate the house. We wanted to enhance the space, but only in a way Rietveld himself would have approved of. An exciting project indeed – Rietveld is one of the great masters of Dutch architecture.”

Designing balance Bláha architecture+design works from a strong client-orientated methodology and values a good balance between the desires of the client, the expertise of the office and external professionals, and the

context of the object. “You have to show the client what is possible, without pushing them in the wrong direction,” Bláha states. “Of course, you have to work according to today’s standards and honour the trends on demand, yet I would never blindly follow them. An architect values a certain durability of designs and materials. Basic materials such as marble or concrete are as sustainable as they are classic.” Apart from architectural projects, Bláha architecture+design creates ceramics, lamps and furniture. “Design and architecture go hand in hand,” Bláha concludes. “Design automatically flows from architecture. After concluding works on a larger scale, design elements such as staircases and furniture are essential to a space’s characteristics.” Can she explain what good design entails? “To me, good design exudes balance between aesthetics, sturdiness, and usability, whereby none of the above dominates the other. They should only reinforce each other.” For more information, please visit: www.blaha.nl

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  15


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Academy, Heist op den Berg. Photo: NOAHH

Drawing people together TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: NOAHH

Driven by the ambition to meet the challenges of an ever-changing society, NOAHH – Network Oriented Architecture explores a network-based approach to deal with the embedded nature of the building tradition and the unexpected factors of the architectural and urban processes. Continuously keeping the social aspects of architecture and urbanism at heart, the Amsterdam-based firm prides itself on taking on complex plans within a wide range of typologies. Discover Benelux talks to founder Patrick Fransen about the importance of a social urban environment, architecture as pragmatism, and the architect’s constant gaze into the future.

voliVredenburg in Utrecht and the future OCC – Education and Cultural Cluster in The Hague, this all-round firm specialises in complex projects with a wide range of programmes and typologies in service of cultural, educational, commercial, residential and industrial buildings: from large scales of urban design planning to detailed custom-made interior design projects. Patrick Fransen, who has built his architectural experience over the past 25 years next to Herman Hertzberger, founded NOAHH in 2014. NOAHH explores a fresh way of working in the field of architecture based on a network-oriented attitude. Surrounded by a young, international team of designers and technical experts, the firm works in several countries in Europe.

The core of NOAHH’s approach is to create buildings that stimulate social encounters in open spaces that enable people to meet and connect. Renowned for iconic buildings such as the Music Centre Ti-

A binding factor

16  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

“A building’s worst scenario? A space that divides everyone into separate rooms,” Fransen begins. “Architecture should contribute to better societies, in which

stimulating and social environments are essential.” An important theme in NOAHH’s work is to create possibilities in which the public space turns into a social space for encounter and exchange. “Simply by engaging in discussion with our clients and partners, we reach new typologies and together find the best solution.” The previous statement is reflected by two of NOAHH’s recent projects: the re-use and extension of the Academy Heist-op-den-Berg and the European Space Agency (ESA) meeting facility at its ESTEC centre in the Netherlands. By creating a large patio and connecting it to a circulation corridor, NOAHH bound the whole ensemble of the academy together, providing a good relation between the different departments. “This design decision only arose after extensive discussion. It was not part of the original – almost closed


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

– typology which we now completely turned inside out,” Fransen concludes. For ESA-ESTEC NOAHH designed together with ESA a new meeting facility expressing the ESA identity of technology and pragmatism. “The project shows that in the technical environment of the ESTEC campus the social binding quality of the meeting facility is highly important in knowledge sharing and innovation.”

Unexpected meetings NOAHH’s architectural hallmark is marked by subtlety. Adaptability is a major factor of today’s building field; buildings should adapt to the challenges of the future and be able to house different programmes. Among NOAHH’s extensive international portfolio is the renowned music centre TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht and the International Education and Culture Cluster (OCC) in The Hague, the latter to be delivered in 2020. Both buildings bind various biotopes together into one ensemble. The project of TivoliVredenburg shows the transformation of the inward-facing existing music centre OCC The Hague. Photo: NOAHH/JCAU

Vredenburg into an expressive ensemble of different halls. Nevertheless, each identity finds its own space and is present with its unique expression. TivoliVredenburg became a unique project in which the boundaries between professional collaboration, management complexity and buildings skills crossed a threshold. The success of its performance, popularity and social impact has been enormously recognised in the Netherlands. Amongst many publications and awards, TivoliVredenburg received the renowned Rietveld Prize Award in 2015. The use of open spaces and sustainable design is expressed in NOAHH’s commercial and residential projects. For Schoolenaer in Haarlem, NOAHH developed 119 highly energy-efficient dwellings. The steel construction of the single-storey patio houses with a span of eight by 19 metres per house provides maximum flexibility in floorplans, resulting in unique interiors. All houses were positioned in a way that allowed the preservation of the existing trees and respected the original peat-land Schoolenaer Haarlem interior. Photo: Katje Effting

Schoolenaer Haarlem exterior. Photo: Herman van Doorn

structure. Due to its integrated approach of landscape, child-friendly and social environment, sustainability and possibilities in individual expression, Schoolenaer won the Lieven-the-Key Penning for best urban project in Haarlem of the last decade in 2011.

NOAHH as knowledge bank “Architecture means constantly progressing. Every user has different needs and our society is ever changing. That does not mean that you cannot reuse insight: NOAHH also functions as a knowledge platform: you make a recipe for the future, adapting it every time. “One of the best things about architecture is that you truly contribute to people’s happiness,” Fransen concludes. “You are dealing with people’s psychology as well as societal problems: users should feel comfortable in a space that meets the challenges of today’s society.” For more information, please visit: www.noahh.nl

ESA-ESTEC meeting facility. Photo: NOAHH

TivoliVredenburg Utrecht. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  17


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Beautiful buildings made to last TEXT: SOFIE COUWENBERGH  |  PHOTOS: IBELINGS VAN TILBURG ARCHITECTEN

If you have ever been to the centre of Rotterdam, you might have noticed De Karel Doorman, a 70-metre-high apartment block built right on top of the old Ter Meulen shopping mall. It is just one of the many eye-catching creations of Ibelings van Tilburg architecten. From its office in the Dutch town of Capelle aan den IJssel, the team works on prestigious projects. “Whether it’s an office building, an airport, an apartment complex or a flagship store, we always focus on maintaining a balance between aesthetics, usability and sustainability,” says architect and director Marc Ibelings. Sustainability is a trendy word nowadays, but for Ibelings van Tilburg it involves much more than technical solutions in new buildings. With cities becoming increasingly cramped while many older buildings are left vacant, build18  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

ing something new is not always the solution. The bureau believes that sustainability is also a matter of transforming and repurposing old buildings in a responsible way. In Amsterdam, for example, it turned the Kohnstammhuis, a former tax office, into a school for higher education with a public square that locals can also enjoy. Such a square has a social function and emphasises another angle of Ibelings van Tilburg’s sustainable vision. “Health and usability are important parts of sustainability,” Ibelings continues. “Aside from being built to last, our creations always take into account the environment and the end user.” This translates into good air quality, lots of daylight and pleasant views. In many designs, an atrium or public hall performs the function of a central square where people can meet, talk and take a break.

But what about the visual appeal of a building? According to Ibelings, wellexecuted functionality and sustainability do not inhibit, but instead enhance the aesthetics. Combining the needs of employees, visitors or residents with how clients want to present themselves, while at the same time maintaining a long-term perspective allows this architectural office to create the perfect design for every project. These designs are often characterised by large and multi-functional spaces, practical multi-purpose rooms and the balanced use of details. For passers-by, they interact naturally with their environment.

Teamwork “A result like that is only possible when all concerned parties start working together at an early stage,” says Ibelings. The bureau believes in an integral approach to the design process. Including all parties


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

involved in the chain as early as possible ensures that they are all aligned from the start and that everyone has a clear idea of the project as a whole. Clients, city planners, designers, engineers and end users all collaborate to make sure the project always stays on track. This process is supported using advanced tools, such as virtual 3D building, which allows all parties involved to easily share and exchange data on the project and collect all relevant information in a single model.

Value for money Aside from ensuring every aspect is considered, this integral approach also allows Ibelings van Tilburg to finish its projects on time and within budget. It has made the bureau renowned for being able to create visually stunning and state-of-the-art buildings at a reasonable price. Their designs are characterised by a high future value, which is partly reflected in the use of natural low-maintenance materials. Integration of advanced climate concepts combines high usage value with low energy consumption.

Awards and recognition Over the years, Ibelings van Tilburg’s unique way of working has earned them many awards for their projects. Its design of De Karel Doorman building, an extremely light construction placed on top of the old Ter Meulen shopping mall in the centre of Rotterdam, won no less than five awards. Other awarded creations are the Kohnstamm-ensemble Amsterdam, the Facet office building in Utrecht and the Mercedez Benz headquarters in Utrecht. The bureau’s portfolio boasts clients such as the ABN Amro Bank, Mercedes-Benz, Capgemini, Inalfa Roof Systems, ROC Mondriaan, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and various Dutch cities. For any client and at any location, the end result is always an effective combination of beauty, sustainability and usability. www.ibelingsvantilburg.nl TOP LEFT: De Karel Doorman, Rotterdam. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode. TOP RIGHT: Facet office building, Utrecht. Photo: Luuk Kramer. MIDDLE: IBM-Tower transformed into three lofts, Uithoorn. Photo: Iemke Ruige. BOTTOM RIGHT: Flagship Store Mercedes-Benz The Hague.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  19


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

ZARA: Roos Aldershoff Fotografie

Building houses and helping retailers TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: ARCHITECTUUR STUDIO WEZENBERG

Having a new house, office or commercial space designed can be a challenge depending on local building regulations. Architectuur Studio Wezenberg (named after owner Guido Wezenberg) is familiar with all the ins and outs of regulations and is a sought-after bureau that not only designs unique, modern houses, but serves as an advisor for international retailers who seek to expand in the Netherlands.

little over an hour away from Amsterdam. Wezenberg: “Both are two-storey houses with a concrete and glass ground floor, while the upper level is built with a darker shade of brick. It’s a design based on use of air and space with as few doors as possible and glass, moveable frames to divide the rooms. The upper floor is bedroom space, with brick walls providing necessary privacy.”

Whether designing modern houses, consulting retailers, or explaining how to make a building sustainable; Guido Wezenberg of Architectuur Studio Wezenberg is an expert. One of his most recent endeavours is rather eye-catching: a set of modern houses in the Dutch town of Twello, a

Wezenberg continues: “I love to play with contrasts. Not just with colours, but also with the use of materials, making it possible for me to play with the different volumes a house can provide. It’s a style most reminiscent of Bauhaus in the 1920s. Architects such as Le Corbusier and Ludwig

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Tailored houses

Mies van der Rohe are unique, and to build in the vein of what they did is to design for people that want something special while still being able to design a house tailored to every demand and need. For example, the houses in Twello are built on a stretchedout lot, requiring us to have the garden and house interacting with each other.”

Zero-energy buildings When it comes to building houses today, zero-energy buildings are important. Wezenberg: “It’s a factor I work with and there are many ways to accomplish such buildings. Though many think the solution is to buy some expensive installations, it doesn’t have to be like that. Depending on the complexity of a design and the location and orientation of the building a lot


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can be achieved without pushing all that money down the drain. As long as some solid groundwork is laid, there’s room enough to look at solutions such as insulation, solar energy and more.”

Retail consultancy Architectuur Studio Wezenberg has proven itself through the years to be a trustworthy partner to international retailers who need a guide to help them through the maze of Dutch building regulations. Famous brands such as Zara have done business with Guido Wezenberg with great success. Wezenberg: “A line of work that just happened because of an Austrian architect (FOAF Architects and Engineers from Vienna) who has a portfolio that includes international retailers of which one was also a client of ours. Considering our small studio has four people, including me, I’m extremely happy with all the inter-

national contacts that we gained through the years. Our expertise is broad, helping retailers with getting the necessary building permits, making sure a design follows fire safety standards and maintaining contact with local authorities and landlords. You’ll have to deal with them if a retailer wants to erect a new store inside a monumental building.”

Zara The famous Spanish fashion chain Zara reached out to Wezenberg on several occasions, with their store in the Dutch city of Den Bosch as a prime example how the architect had to deal with local authorities: “Zara wanted to create a store in three buildings of which one was assigned monumental status, meaning I had to present a Spanish design for the storefront to the monument committee, speaking on behalf of Zara and translating their

demands, suggestions and the overall feel that Zara wanted to achieve. We came to a mutual understanding and worked together with the committee to fit in the new design in a historical city and find bricks that suited the building, keeping its monumental status while housing the fashion chain’s new store. Architectuur Studio Wezenberg find this type of project fun and rewarding work. They know how important a deadline is for such retailers and with their in-house knowledge on Dutch building regulations, they are able to respond in a short amount of time, meaning making those deadlines should prove to be no problem at all. To find out more about Architectuur Studio Wezenberg, visit www.studiowezenberg.eu

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  21


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Handelskade. Photo: R. Tilleman

Architecture as a transformative power TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN

harbour being transformed and with all that raw material in our vicinity, we get inspired to discover what makes us tick.” Yanovshtchinsky joined the architect business in 1983 and has a formidable track record when it comes to projects in the Netherlands and abroad, with several awards to boot. A bureau that does not settle for less, VYa draws inspiration from surroundings and adds a spark to the area around a project, filling a void that many did not know was there.

“We believe as architects that every single action we take allows us to transform and improve our present surroundings in a sustainable future and bring the visible and hidden treasures our environment offers to life. Good design is a means to achieve this ambition and offers us a playing field to explore the riches of our profession. We take great pride in what we design. We like to see our work being appreciated and embraced. Years after, we love to look back with the same pride we started with.”

Handelskade

Those are the words of architect Vera Yanovshtchinsky and senior architect Sjoerd Beerends. Her Bureau VYa resides in The Hague, a stone’s throw away from the North Sea. Yanovshtchinsky: “It’s always beautiful here, whether the sun shines or a storm rages. There’s a nearby

That particular approach permeates especially through the Handelskade project in Nijmegen. Yanovshtchinsky: “Handelskade is a dense urban residential area we designed. It’s situated next to Nijmegen’s quay, with the river Waal flowing north of it and the harbour on the west side. Water became a huge inspiration; I wanted to

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connect the whole development with the quay and give a part of the city back to the public, because that part was previously cut off from them. Crown jewel ‘De Lunet’ is a high-rise that has a tactile, modern feel to it with fluid shapes like ripples in water shaped by the wind. As with a lot of projects of ours, the building has a different feel to it, whether you look at it from afar, up close or on top.” She continues: “We love a good challenge and the adventure of approaching a design brief as something that we do for the first time: curious, fresh and unrestricted. We often work with clients who have an implicit request that requires further formulating, so we try to get to the core of it. To do that, we cross cut the question and use our expertise to get to the deep-rooted essence of ‘What is it all about?’. A lot of extraordinary things can happen if you


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approach projects without prejudice, the way that children are often capable of doing.”

Bijlmer Sports Centre Yanovshtchinsky takes the Bijlmer Sports Centre (Amsterdam) as an example. “We were asked to design a sports centre with all the commodities, including a swimming pool. I noticed in the surrounding area how people love to gallivant around. That became the starting point of the architectural brief for the building; make it feel like it’s a feast to be there, a place where you can gallivant while exercising.”

Holon. Photo: VYA

Sjoerd Beerends: “We translated the brief into an almost theatrical place where to see and be seen is the leitmotif. Façades and interior walls largely made of glass offer broad views onto the swimming pool, the sports hall and many other facilities. To watch all those people moving and playing is like stepping into the theatre yourself.”

accidentally bombed during the Second World War and afterwards saw its share of functional, solitary buildings that did not bring much more urban to the table. This environment has been transformed into a city centre shopping street; with its two levels and curve, there is always something new to see with every few steps.

is VTV Zuiderpark in The Hague: a beautiful building for the physically and mentally disabled, situated in a park and therefore built to complement the surroundings with its wooden supporting structure and natural materials. Tree-like façades complement the surroundings, making the park part of the building and vice versa.

Spin-off

There is residential block Blok 16a in the Amsterdam borough of IJburg with a formal side facing the street and a more informal other side with its gardens, terraces and water body. Apartments and single-family houses of all shapes and sizes come together, simply by defying the definition of both an apartment and the single-family house. Built in 2003, its design still has a distinct modern feel. There

VYa is no stranger to urban planning either, having designed the previously non-existent city centre of Holon, Israel. The design creates coherence in an urban void, incorporating the haphazardness of its context.

It must be said that Yanovshtchinsky’s projects are sights to behold and usually give way to extra impulses for the surrounding area. Many of the residential or mixed projects are done in districts that are in need of transformation. What was once rather uninviting, gains a new-found attractiveness. Take the Marikenstraat in Nijmegen for instance; a working-class city that was

To find out more about VYa’s work method and projects, visit www.vya.nl

Handelskade. Photo: R. Tilleman

Ijburg. Photo: Sj Henselmans

BSC. Photo: Luuk Kramer

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  23


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Caring through architecture TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: KLOET FOTOGRAFIE

Architectenbureau Anna Zinkweg is an architectural firm carrying over 20 years’ experience in the various sectors of healthcare, housing, childcare and schools. Specialising in large-scale healthcare projects such as assistedliving facilities and care homes, Emmaus is Anna Zinkweg’s latest project, embodying the firm’s values of building for – and with – the local community and environment. Based on two decades of experience, the Wassenaar-based firm Architectenbureau Anna Zinkweg fully utilises its creativity and knowledge for the realisation of highquality design at all levels: urban design, architecture, and interior design. Since its founding in 1997 the firm has maintained a small-scale character and flexible nature, priding itself on executing each one of its projects honouring time, budget, and a relationship of trust with every client. While Anna Zinkweg serves various target groups and sectors, the centre of gravity lies with health care. The firm can build on years of experience in designing and implementing large-scale care projects. Emmaus in Zoeterwoude-Dorp, an 24  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

assisted-living facility from care group WIJdezorg, was completed in December 2016. “Emmaus breaks with traditional Dutch homes, that are often either independent living or full-time care residencies,” Anna Zinkweg begins. “Emmaus is not a conventional independent living residency. Its apartments are so-called lifespan resistant, meaning that whatever phase of life the inhabitant is in, their home evolves with them. They can always keep living comfortably and in a trusted environment.” Emmaus consists of 40 apartments for seniors with somatic care needs, 40 small-scale group living residences for seniors with dementia, a physiotherapy centre, offices and facilities such as a restaurant and hairdresser. Realised by construction company Stout BV and under the supervision of Zinkweg’s most senior architect Martijn Snijder, the project was completed within a mere 14 months. Building for – and with – the environment is the core of each project, something quite literally reflected in the use of materials. At Emmaus, insulation material is based on old newspapers, the 160 solar panels on

the roof supply the complex with electricity, and lighting is executed with LED. Yet honouring the environment goes further. “It is essential that a community will recognise itself in the building,” Zinkweg stresses. “A project should be wanted, should evoke enthusiasm.” Something that is certainly the case at Emmaus: the community has welcomed the complex with open arms, while residents feel privileged to call it their home. “I have always had a heart to work for the voice of those whose own is often not heard,” Zinkweg concludes. “It is priceless to contribute to something that creates added value to them, and everyone around them.”

For more information, please visit: www.zinkweg.nl


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Between architecture and renovation TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: FRISO WOUDSTRA ARCHITECTEN

To design buildings is what architects do best and though many have a specialty, there are not many in the Netherlands that tread the delicate line between renovation and design. Friso Woudstra of Friso Woudstra Architecten BNA B.V. specialises in estates, transforming forlorn mansions into beautiful domains. His exceptional work has even reached Dutch royalty. For a good impression of what Woudstra does best, one just has to take a look at the mansion he and his wife Yneke bought in 1999 in a town called Vorden, not far from the German border. ‘Wientjesvoort’ was designed in 1850 by famous architect Pierre Cuypers (Amsterdam Central Station, Rijksmuseum and much more), but after a fire several decades ago, the building was left in a state of decay. Woudstra saw unlimited potential in the building and restored it to perfection with some modern touches. He explains: “I love to combine a historic atmosphere with all of today’s conveniences.”

hands on Amsterdam School, Jugendstil, Frank Lloyd Wright or Classical styles of architecture. “I relish the research that’s needed to give a building with a rich history a new narrative. All designs are always in joint ordinance with the client and that pays off. We have done projects all around Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, including for some famous Dutch people like dressage rider Edward Gal and concert pianist Cor Bakker. Our office is able to fully realise a project from beginning to end, including interior design. We see how that de-stresses a lot of our clients.” You would expect Woudstra to name his own mansion as the project he takes

most pride in, but that honour befalls to a stud farm not far from where the architect lives. Woudstra – an avid equestrian himself – designed several buildings, inspired by the Hollandsche Manege, Holland’s oldest riding school. There are stables for 24 horses, a guest house, office, storage room and much more. “I wouldn’t mind building more stud farms in other places in the Netherlands,” he says.

To find out more about the works and services of Friso Woudstra Architecten BNA B.V. visit www.frisowoudstra.nl

It is an ethos that shines through most of Woudstra’s works, whether he gets his Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  25


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Photo: Rene de Wit

Photo: Marcel Briaire

Photo: Michiel Kievits

The evolution of architecture TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE

For many people, the world of architecture is quite intangible. Apart from the architects themselves, no one really knows what is exactly going on in one of the world’s oldest professions. All the more reason to discuss this with Pascal Grosfeld, who holds his own architecture bureau Grosfeld van der Velde, together with his business partner Bart van der Velde.

When asked how that style can be recognised, Grosfeld answers: “Every building that we work on has its own character as we always try to look at its surroundings, so we are able to create something that looks timeless. Our job is about more than just sketching something beautiful – there is a social responsibility involved as well. You have to think about what the building does for its users and environment.”

“When I started as an architect, about 20 years ago, it was the beginning of the use of computers in our field of work. Drawing programmes started to come up and our business started moving from the drafting table to the computer.” As more and more people got access to computers or, to be more specific, the internet, the visual culture also began to change, according to Grosfeld. Obviously, this led to more inspiration for their clients, but it led to more copycat behaviour as well.

That is also one of the reasons the bureau is great at what they do, because they take a great deal of time to get to know their clients and to interpret their wishes from beginning to end. Grosfeld: “I am not able to just make some drafts after a client has requested us to start on a project; I really have to know how the client is made, to learn about the ‘why’ behind her or his request.” He believes that this personal approach and attention is something that makes the bureau able to distinguish itself from their competition.

Thanks to its exclusive and firm style, Grosfeld van der Velde is among the top architect bureaus in the Netherlands. 26  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Apart from the way they deal with their clients, Grosfeld van der Velde is also a

bureau that operates in the entire width of their working field, with, of course, some specialties: “For example, the private sector, where our style is considered quite exclusive. But we are also very experienced when it comes to renovating monumental buildings. To be fair, we have the knowledge to take on almost every project.” www.grosfeldvandervelde.nl

Lobby Art Centre Gouda. Photo: Rene de Wit


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Changing the face of Amsterdam TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: STUDIO Y

Amsterdam is known for many things, but none so ubiquitous as the canal houses. A city in flux calls for architects that love every inch of the city, the way it was and the way it is now. That most certainly applies to Wim Lindenbergh and Erwin Spijker from Studio Y, who have proven themselves experts when it comes to designing and renovating canal houses, office spaces, hotels, utility buildings and much more, not just in the capital city, but also elsewhere. The connection with Amsterdam is undeniable with Studio Y (pronounced as the Dutch ‘y’ similar to ´aye´), the name being a nod to the river IJ that runs through the north of the city and used to be written on maps as ‘y’. Lindenbergh and Spijker’s first office was housed near the waterway. Nowadays, 20 years later, the bureau is located in Amsterdam-West with a view on one of Y’s many projects: a multifunctional building that can be used as a residential block, commercial spaces, offices and more.

The two architects first met at the Academy for Architecture and went on to work separately at different bureaus before joining forces, with Lindenbergh specialising in office spaces and Spijker in shopping malls and hotels. Spijker: “My entry to the world of hotels was happenstance: I joined a tennis club and there I met the man responsible for the real estate of Dorint Hotels. I was commissioned to do their hotel in the nearby city of Badhoevedorp and have done quite a few of them since.” When asked what his favourite project has been, Spijker has his answer at the ready: “The Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam, a hotel comprised of 25 linked canal houses. The entry of the Pulitzer used to be a rare twin canal house of which half was demolished in the ‘70s, only to have a new frontage set a few metres back and with a fairytale vibe to it. I wanted to restore the façade to its former glory, but unfortunately the zoning plan disallowed these changes. I circumvented that by designing a façade that evokes the contour people have in mind when thinking about the buildings of

Amsterdam. I’m very happy how it turned out and it adds to what Pulitzer wanted with the interior as well; to make it feel like a trip through the history of Amsterdam.” The Pulitzer Hotel is a prime example of Studio Y’s work ethos. Spijker: “We love to challenge ourselves and have the energy to try different approaches. Teamwork is vital to our line of work and by having synergy with the interior designer, client and contractor, we’re able to complete the most amazing projects.” To find out more about Studio Y and its projects, go to: www.studio-y.nl

Ton Wiertz

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  27


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Building for now and then TEXT: SOFIE COUWENBERGH  |  PHOTOS: PIETER KERS

Structures that answer the client’s demands of today while being adaptable to his needs of tomorrow are structures that are built to last. At Borren Staalenhoef Architects, the team believes in looking ahead and designing creations that are sustainable in more ways than one. “Clients often only think about what they want from a building today and forget to think about the future,” says architect Jacob Borren. His bureau has therefore made it their mission to fulfil that task for their clients. By entering into a continuous conversation with its clients, the team is able to go beyond their immediate goals and think up houses and office spaces that will grow with them. “A couple may have small children running around today, but also the hopes that in a few years, they’ll have to do their homework somewhere,” Borren continues. “Those are things you only learn by asking and that should be implemented in the design.” Buildings are constructed in such a way that they are flexible and ready to evolve 28  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

together with their inhabitants. By incorporating current needs and leaving room for future ones, it becomes unnecessary to hire a contractor each time the client wants something new. It is a way to ensure sustainability through adaptability.

Vries in 2014. Just like the bureau’s other clients, the people living in these houses had guts. They put their trust in the often tantalising style of Borren Staalenhoef Architects and have not regretted it for a moment.

Sustainability is also achieved thanks to conscious material selection. Not only does Borren Staalenhoef work with long-lasting materials, it also employs them to be optimally functional. This no-nonsense approach allows them to create luxurious-looking projects for a limited budget. “We believe that it’s exactly our functional and sustainable approach with eye for the immediate environment that creates aesthetically appealing buildings,” says Borren.

www.borrenstaalenhoef.com www.facebook.com/borrenstaalenhoef

These structures often look different depending on the time of day and the weather, their elements playing with incoming sunlight or mirrored clouds on the windows. Examples are a glassdominated home in the middle of the woods and the famous Villa Juliana, which won the bureau the Prize Vredeman de


SIX ARCHITECTS BV BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE, WITH RESPECT FOR THE PAST Architect Diederik Six designs with historical awareness and is motived to create sustainable living environments. For 25 years, the Six team have been at the top of their field. With extensive knowledge of restoration, the agency embraces craftsmanship. In addition to the restoration of castles and country estates, Six distinguishes itself with traditional new builds. In keeping with the historical context, Six Architects realises tailor-made projects and creates timeless homes. Would you like to be inspired by a rich history and craftsmanship combined with modern comfort? You are more than welcome to discuss your building plans at Doornveld House, our lovely office. Jhr. Ir. D.L. Six

|

Email: Diederik@Six.nl

|

Website: www.six.nl

PURE SIMPLICITY. ELEGANCE. SEUREN TABLES.

www.seuren-tafels.nl


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‘I thrive on big and complex projects’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: BLOSSOM ARCHITECTURE

Challenging conventional design and creating public buildings that are sustainable, better for the environment and at the heart of a circular economy is what drives Maartje van den Berg, founder of Blossom Architecture and Consulting. “I want to create really beautiful, innovative buildings that also have much less impact on our environment, by reusing materials that otherwise would be destroyed,” explains Van den Berg. Developing this way is not just environmentally friendly, most of the time it will lower costs. For instance, the architect created a counter for the town hall in Wageningen made from old, discarded ropes that had been used in the sports hall of an elementary school. “Instead of throwing them in the trash, I collected them and gave them a new life,” she explains. Working with suppliers and builders from day one, rethinking how to design and devel-

op projects is an intrinsic part of the way Van den Berg works. “It is about leading the way with all parties to become part of the circular economy. Reusing materials on the same level as their original purpose is really rewarding and something I love to do. “I want to find a solution – not just for the problem a project presents – but also the bigger problem of wastage. We need to find a way to leave a better place for our children,” concludes the architect. “The bigger the prob-

lem, the more I am in my element. I really thrive on the big and more complex projects.” www.blossomarchitecture.nl

Feel ‘at ease’ right away “Designing buildings is all about listening to the client; to hear what they want but, more importantly, why they want something. Only then can you create a place where they truly feel at home,” explains Menno Lam, owner of LAM architects. Inspired by world-renowned architects such as John Lautner and taught by Glenn Murcutt (who won the Pritzker Prize in 2002), the buildings Lam designs stem from the same philosophy. “I want to create living environments where building and nature come together and

make the users feel at ease, whether it is a house or an office building,” elaborates Lam. The same approach was applied for the giraffe house at the Royal Rotterdam Zoo. “Working from natural behaviour and needs of the users is no different for people than it is for animals. “I believe the essence of architecture is not about style or techniques, it is about what suits my clients best, what serves their wellbeing most. Therefore, the design process is first of all about getting to know the client. Finding out why they want something, instead of just documenting what they want. If you know

TEXT: MICHIEL STOL

their motivation, you can really design the perfect place for them, even if it is different from what they originally had in mind,” says Lam. This design approach makes it possible to create buildings that are sustainable by nature. “It just becomes logical to create a design that is biophilic and environmentally friendly,” explains the architect. “The best compliment I can get is when the users come to me afterwards and say: ‘I felt at home right away’.” www.lam-architects.nl

Giraffe house. Photo: Martijn Dijkstra

Verandah house. Photo: Martijn Heil

30  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

LAM architects, Design Studio.


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Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

The Port House. Photo: © Visit Antwerp

BELGIAN ARCHITECTURE SPECIAL

A land of architectural wonder From the decadent Art Nouveau creations of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde to the stunning skyscrapers and avant-garde urban developments of today, Belgian architecture has certainly earned its place at the forefront of cuttingedge design. Read on for our guide to the best of Belgian architecture. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS AND THE FLANDERS ARCHITECTURE INSTITUTE

Haverwerf Mechelen. Photo: © Milo Profi

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Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

Figurentheater De Maan, Mechelen (Malin). Photo: © Import Export architecture

Droogloods. Photo: Olmo Peeter

Modern masterpieces Take a walk around any city in Belgium and you will be struck by the diversity of the buildings and monuments. From medieval towns like Bruges, home to both modern and medieval masterpieces, to major cities like Ghent and Antwerp where modern triumphs stand alongside historical gems. The latter’s latest architectural gem is the Port House, designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher. Having been inaugurated in September last year, the new headquarters for the port involved the renovation and extension of a derelict fire station along with a striking contemporary diamond-shaped superstructure. This modern masterpiece, which reflects both the port’s rich history and its optimism for the future has

confirmed the city’s high-ranking status on the architectural world map.

A global player Thanks to organisations such as the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi), which coordinates the Belgian entry to the Venice Architecture Biennale every four years on a rotating basis with the country’s French-speaking community, architecture in Flanders is reputed for its innovation. The Flanders Architecture Institute’s aim is to raise awareness of the significance of good design and encourage public debate related to buildings and cities. By organising exhibitions, lectures and debates, they help spread knowledge about architecture. To get involved, visit www.vai.be

Antwerp - Central Station. Photo: © Antwerpen Toerisme en Congres

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  33


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Kievitplein - Hoofdzetel De Persgroep Publishing - Antwerpen.

An architectural language that inspires TEXT: THESSA LAGEMAN  |  PHOTOS: CREPAIN BINST ARCHITECTURE

Crepain Binst Architecture (CBA) is an all-round architectural firm from Antwerp. “Our work has its own identity, a soul,” explains CEO and creative director Luc Binst. “While we always create something à la carte for our clients, you can recognise our signature, a straightforward, smart and functional architecture language.” The company, located in the centre of Antwerp in a warehouse dating from 1910, has created more than 550 designs. These include residences and public buildings, and also all kinds of interior objects, such as furniture and lamps, both in Belgium and the Netherlands. Binst: “Projects from human scale to city design.” The firm not only works on 34  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

the architecture and designs, but also makes sure to take care of the building technique and policies at the construction sites. “We oversee the whole process from A to Z to be able to create the best result,” says the CEO. At a young age, he loved working with his hands and creating things. After a severe accident – he was hit by a car when he was 14 – he started to think about what he wanted to do with his future and decided to become an architect. “My parents were surprised at first,” he says, explaining he comes from a family of business people. “But they supported me.” He studied architecture at the Academy for Science and Art in Brussels and, in 1999, he started to work at top architect Jo Crepain’s company next to his own projects.

Remarkable design The design of Binst’s own residence and practice space in the village of Humbeek, which was finished in 2004, turned out to be his breakthrough. “It immediately received a lot of attention,” he remembers. More than 200 publications wrote about the remarkable black, white and blue structure and, during a yearly weekend where people in Belgium can open their house to visitors, around 2,000 people came to have a look at the villa. “I am inspired by Bauhaus and Gerrit Rietveld,” says Binst. “I love the clean and simple style. This house is an experiment. An ode to perspective.” Inside, differences in height mark the rooms instead of walls. In 2006, he received the Lensvelt Interior Prize for the design, and is still the only


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

Belgian architect to have won this prestigious Dutch award. “Pure porno,” one of the jury members called the design.

Contests In 2006, Binst founded CBA together with Jo Crepain. Unfortunately, only two years later, Crepain unexpectedly died. “An incredible loss and a drama for the company,” says Binst. At the same time, the financial crisis also started and the company was forced to shrink from 70 to 30 employees (there are now 45 employees). While in the past the company had many Dutch clients, it concentrated on the Belgian market in the following years. “We have now started to make a comeback in the Netherlands,” says Binst. The company just won a contest to create a residential tower in Eindhoven, which will be 70 to 110 metres in height with sturdy and smooth white bricks. Another new project he is especially proud of is the building of the new headquarters of De Persgroep Publishing in Antwerp, which Woontoren Strijp-S - Eindhoven.

will be an iconic interactive tower for work and living. “Luckily, we have a very strong team,” Binst emphasises. “We have so much professionalism in the firm now.”

The next generation In the book UNITED that CBA published in 2015, the company’s past, present and future is told. It gives readers a glimpse behind the scenes of the company that had to rebuild itself after the death of

Architecture empowers and supports the individual’s self-assurance. Luc Binst

its founder. The book shows the firm’s power, ambitions and how it has transformed over the years to adapt to society’s changing wishes and needs. With the book, CBA likes to inspire readers, inform them and invite them to take part in a di-

alogue. “We have a responsibility to attract the public’s interest in architecture,” thinks Binst. “Still too many ordinary, uninteresting buildings are built. However, architecture can make your life more pleasant.” He adds: “At CBA, we keep searching for the minimal, for the sense of enjoyable abstraction where colour, material and texture blend together.” In the coming years, CBA wants to become Antwerp’s most ambitious and dynamic architecture firm. The CEO likes to do more in the Netherlands and in Singapore and other South East Asian countries as well. “There is a demand for western European knowhow, so at the moment we are joining a few contests there,” says Binst. “But we also want to establish ourselves even better on Belgian soil.” As an architect, you are able to build part of this world for the next generation, he adds. “Quite a serious but challenging responsibility.” www.crepainbinst.be

Residentie ‘Melopee’ - Antwerpen. Photo: © Koen Van Damme

Studentenhuisvesting Woods – Leuven.

Residentie ‘One’ Oosteroever - Oostende. Photo: ©Versluys-nanopixel

Residentie ‘Eiland’ - Antwerpen.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  35


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

Leuven Chem & Tech

Building for the future TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT  |  PHOTOS: SVR-ARCHITECTS

Based in Antwerp, SVR-ARCHITECTS are one of Belgium’s leading international architectural firms, with 35 professionals working across a range of projects requiring highly specialised technical expertise and creative power. Ever since founder Jef Van Ranst won a competition to build the Antwerp University Medical Hospital in 1970, healthcare has been one of the four sectors comprising the backbone of the company’s portfolio, together with their innovative work in laboratories, offices and housing. Van Ranst hired technical specialists from the United States to help him build the hospital, which at the time was a revo36  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

lutionary approach. “It reflects a mentality that has been an essential part of the company from the very start,” says SVR’s CEO Philippe Van Goethem. “We will always have our eye on the end goal: to meet the needs of the end users. And we’ll do whatever it takes to realise this goal.” It is this very same vision on the role of architectural design that informed one of SVR’s newest flagship projects, the Queen Mathilde Mother and Child Centre in Edegem near Antwerp, which was completed earlier in February this year. “We did away with some deep-seated dogmas in our design,” Philippe explains. “We wanted to bring as much natural light

as we could into the hospital’s wards and rooms – not only for the patients, but also for the staff. Usually, hospital staff rest rooms are stuck away somewhere in the centre of the structure where no natural light can possibly get in. We took a radically different approach, from a belief that optimal healthcare for patients requires optimal conditions for nursing staff, to care for their patients and create a healthy, happy and positive environment.”

Function before form According to Philippe, it is this focus on the use of a building that sets SVR apart from many other firms. “We don’t design iconic buildings just for the sake of it,” Philippe explains. “Scale and volume


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

should derive from the functional concept, not the other way around. Firstly, we look at the different groups of users a building needs to facilitate, the inside of the building, before we think about what it should look like from the outside.” SVR always follow this same philosophy and way of working. First they identify the goals the project needs to meet and make sure they have a clear and concrete understanding of these. Secondly, they set out how to achieve these goals, drafting a detailed plan of the process. “This includes budget planning, proactively gauging the risks and working out a clearly phased roadmap to avoid surprises and minimise costs,” Philippe explains. “On the part of the architect this requires solid technical expertise as well as the ability to think creatively.” The third and final requirement is to focus on the end result. “We’re not in this business just to publish our designs,” says Jean-Pierre Van Liefferinge, the firm’s other partner. “We’re in this business to produce

added value for our customers, to contribute to the success of their enterprise.”

Scalable architecture Part of the success of a project is the requirement to deliver buildings that are social, environmentally friendly and set up for new ways of working in the digital age. But first and foremost, the architect has a duty to deliver buildings that are scalable and adaptable to future needs, according to Jean-Pierre. This applies to office buildings such as the building at 9 Rue Guimard in Brussels, which SVR redesigned and optimised, increasing its floor space by almost ten per cent; but it is even more important for the laboratory buildings SVR specialise in.

Hotel labs One of their latest laboratory projects has been the design of a 16,000-squaremetre so-called laboratory hotel building concept for a newly developed biotech campus. “The buildings are designed to accommodate a range of different laboratories, all with scalable sizes and

adaptable functionalities.” It is the kind of project that requires highly specialised expertise in front-end engineering design, where a comprehensive, complicated programming and long-term design process needs to be planned in detail. In recent years, SVR’s Laboratory Division has not only worked as architects on prestigious projects such as the Rega and Chem&Tech laboratories at the University of Leuven, the academic research lab for aquatic ecology and toxicology at the University of Ghent and a range of highly sophisticated R&D facilities for Procter and Gamble in Europe and Asia, they have also been asked by other architectural firms to contribute their expertise in various projects around the world. “Just like Van Ranst more than 45 years ago, we are always open to new collaborations,” Philippe concludes. “If we can add value to a project and deliver a design that can stand the test of time, we are in,” he says. “In the end, we see it as our mission to build for the future.” www.svr-architects.eu

Healthcare is one of the four sectors comprising the backbone of the company’s portfolio.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  37


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Architecture & Design Guide

De Nieuwe Dokken in Gent Photo: Schipperskaai Development

Museum M in Leuven Photo: Jan Kempenaers

deSingel International Arts Campus in Antwerpen. Photo: Luca Beel

Headquarters SIAT in Zaventem Photo: Luca Beel

KMMA in Tervuren: view from the new Welcome Pavillion towards the Museum. Photo: SBA

STÉPHANE BEEL ARCHITECTS:

Iconic simplicity TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK

With a portfolio boasting iconic buildings such as the Rubens House and art campus deSingel in Antwerp, Museum M in Leuven and recently housing project De Nieuwe Dokken, Stéphane Beel Architects has helped shape Flemish identity for over three decades. He is among Flanders’ most-renowned contemporary architects: his work has featured in numerous international magazines and has bagged prestigious international prizes. Most importantly, it has formed the Flemish cities of today. Founded in the early 1980s, SBA’s works include private residences, urban planning, offices, and cultural buildings. Beel is a prominent representative of the New Simplicity movement that was developed during the last decades of the 20th century, characterised by the revival of architectural minimalism. Design’s integration in the everyday is a constant essence. “All elements in design are autonomous, yet linked at the same time,” Beel starts. “The old and the new, the design and 38  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

its surroundings: they mutually influence each other. This applies to the small-scale nature of a chair, but also translates to whole cities.” Leuven’s famous M Museum underlines this hallmark: by stitching together new elements with historic features and creating public elements opening up social possibilities, the museum has become part of the everyday, enabling people to meet and connect.

in De Nieuwe Dokken is its integral nature: residents should consider it their home, something that is part of their city.” Sustainability is at the core of each project, something reflected by the recently completed ‘De Balk van Beel’. Dubbed the first and most sustainable residential building in Europe, it comprises 101 low-energy apartments with a strong spotlight on sustainability and innovation.

Among current projects is the expansion and renovation of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (KMMA) in Tervuren (re-opening in 2018). “A sensitive project, as our colonial history is not a light topic,” Beel continues. “Architecture is about reflecting on relevant issues in human life. How can you get that right? The building should do justice to what people feel when taking in KMMA’s collection.”

Having practiced his profession for over 35 years, Beel recognises developments that are of passing nature. “Architecture represents a way to explore and heighten life. This enables us to synthesise complex problems, to provide an unconventional response to what was asked but not always what was expected.

‘De Nieuwe Dokken’ is one of SBA’s recent housing projects: some 400 homes alongside community buildings such as a school and sports centre, set at the Schipperskaai waters in Ghent. “Essential

“Architecture equals to problem solving – it does not save the world, but it certainly contributes to it.” www.stephanebeel.com www.instagram.com/ stephane_beel_architects


Flanders is a top-class golfing destination where there are 54 golf clubs who are happy to welcome you for a lovely round of golf or a challenging workout of your swing!

To book a tee time or plan your holiday, visit www.golfinflanders.com


Discover Benelux  |  Metz  |  A Vibrant & Beguiling Modern City

Jardin botanique.

Marvellous Metz Set in the heart of Europe and right on the doorstep of Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, the French city of Metz makes the perfect day-trip or weekend break. From first-class cuisine to historical hotspots and cultural gems, the Lorraine region’s vibrant capital has it all. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: PHILIPPE GISSELBRECHT / OFFICE DE TOURISME DE METZ

Metz plage.

40  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Metz  |  A Vibrant & Beguiling Modern City Porte des Allemands.

Terrasse Maison Rabelais

La Moselle and Temple Neuf.

Rue Taison.

Be mesmerised in Metz This floral city is cycle-friendly and boasts numerous outdoor spaces, making it an ideal location for a spring or summertime getaway. There are 3,000 years of history to explore, particularly the Porte des Allemands. This fortified castle is one of the treasures of the city’s medieval ramparts. Also not to be missed is Metz Cathedral, with its magnificent stained glass windows dating from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Marc Chagall, Jean Cocteau and Jacques Villon are just some of the artists to have contributed to the largest surface area of stained glass windows in Europe.

Art lover’s paradise Meanwhile, culture vultures will not want to miss the Centre Pompidou-Metz, a branch of Paris’ famous museum of modern and contemporary art. Since its inauguration in 2010, the museum has become one of the most-visited cultur-

al venues in France outside the capital. The remarkable building was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and features a curvaceous roof structure inspired by a Chinese hat that Ban found in Paris. Exhibitions to look out for include Fernand Léger. Beauty is everywhere, running until 30 October, which celebrates the life and works of French painter, sculptor and filmmaker Fernand Léger. The cubist was influenced by a range of subjects ranging from poetry to circus and dance to architecture. Other popular museums in the city include the Musée de La Cour d’Or, which boasts a 5,000-square-metre exhibition space and is home to everything from Gallo-Roman treasures to medieval painted ceilings and paintings from the Metz school.

DO NOT MISS: Metz Plage 22 July - 15 August Seaside fun for all ages! To celebrate the summertime, a genuine fine sand beach is installed by the lake. Do not forget your bucket and spade! Les Fêtes de la Mirabelle 19 - 27 August The mirabelle plum has been cultivated in the Metz area for centuries. The annual Fêtes de la Mirabelle attracts thousands of visitors to the city for a mix of street entertainment, concerts, balls, craft fairs, firework displays and floral floats. Les Montgolfiades de Metz Late August, early September Bringing together almost 10,000 hot air balloon enthusiasts every year, this must-see event marks the end of the summer season.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  41


Discover Benelux  |  Metz  |  A Vibrant & Beguiling Modern City

Take a culinary ‘tour du monde’ in Metz TEXT: PETER STEWART  |  PHOTOS: RESTAURANT THIERRY SAVEURS ET CUISINE

Offering delectable dishes that blend exotic influences, Restaurant Thierry Saveurs et Cuisine is the ultimate destination for modern ‘gourmands’ in Metz. Set in a quaint, 16th century building in the historic centre of Metz, Restaurant Thierry Saveurs et Cuisine whisks diners off on a culinary journey to the four corners of the globe. Both the décor and the dishes offer up a veritable taste of the exotic. In a relaxed yet refined setting, the chef tantalises guests’ taste buds with meals bursting with flavour: braised lamb tagine with lemon and couscous transports you to the souks of Marrakesh; Thai green tea soup with chicken and coconut to the buzzing streets of Bangkok; California rolls, with tuna and crab marinated in teriyaki sauce, to the neon lights of Tokyo. All restaurants in France worth their salt have a good wine list, and Thierry Restaurant

Thierry Saveurs et Cuisine is no exception. The vintages come from far and wide – wines from New Zealand and Chile are available, but so too are home-grown varieties, such as the Pinot Noir from Molozay Château de Vaux on the outskirts of Metz. The culinary journey on offer is second to none, as the restaurant’s guestbook confirms; everyone from Japanese tourists to local businessman have eaten here, and all agree that they have not left disappointed. If you dine here in the summer months, you can sample the fla-

vours of the world on the restaurant’s outdoor sun terrace. www.restaurant-thierry.fr

‘A perfect balance of culture, luxury and gastronomy’ TEXT: NDÉLA FAYE  |  PHOTOS: LA CITADELLE

Located near the historical centre of Metz, La Citadelle is a four-star luxury hotel that offers guests an ideal setting for family holidays, quick visits and business trips alike. With a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a number of conference rooms available, the hotel is able to cater to guests’ every need. La Citadelle was originally built in 1559 in Metz’s military citadel, and the area’s rich historical past is still tangible. “The building is part of the Historical Monuments Register, along with some of the most notable buildings in the area. The architecture and décor is impressive, along with its large arched vaults that add to the historical feel,” says Christophe Dufossé, the hotel’s manager and chef. The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Magasin Aux Vivres, serves a range of dishes made with seasonal local produce, as well as exotic specialties. “I am a chef by trade and food is my passion. I want guests to en42  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

joy traditional food from the Lorraine region, mixed with influences from all over the world,” Dufossé explains. In addition, regular private cookery classes, led by the top chef, are held to allow diners to brush up on their cooking skills, discover new ingredients and learn new techniques. With four large conference rooms, the hotel is also

an ideal spot for business seminars and meetings. “There is plenty to see in the city, and the surrounding Moselle and Seille rivers add to the city’s charm. La Citadelle offers the perfect retreat with a perfect balance of culture, luxury and gastronomy,” Dufossé concludes. www.citadelle-metz.com Christophe Dufossé.


Discover Benelux  |  Metz  |  A Vibrant & Beguiling Modern City

A secret that has to be shared TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: L’ASSIETTE AU BOEUF

Since opening in 2012, L’Assiette au Boeuf has become an institution in the vibrant French city of Metz and is famous for its house speciality of ‘Bœuf paradis’. This slice of paradise comprises entrecôte steak served with homemade fries and a heavenly secret sauce. So, what is it that makes L’Assiette au Boeuf’s secret sauce so delicious? Owner Adrien Mougenot, who opened the restaurant along with his wife and their team of multilingual staff five years ago, is remaining tight lipped. “There are 47 ingredients in our special sauce,” he grins. “It would be very hard to recreate at home.” Originally from Paris, Mougenot trained at hotel school in Switzerland and has a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector, including a period managing the Relais Château Le Ksar Char-Bagh in Marrakech.

He may have travelled the world, but Mougenot’s heart belongs in Metz, and he is particularly proud of L’Assiette au Boeuf’s remarkable setting. With its beautiful terrace overlooking the Moselle River and Metz Cathedral in the city centre, it would be tough to find a more idyllic location. “It is just the most beautiful terrace, right on the water’s edge,” he smiles. “We wanted

Get down and ‘boogie burger’ They say that music is the food of love, and that is certainly the case at Boogie Burger in Metz. At this lively takeaway burger bar, all the delicious dishes are named after rock and pop icons. From the David Bowie (steak, Emmental cheese, camembert, grilled onions, bacon, salad, tomato, ketchup and barbecue sauce) to the Michael Jackson (chicken escalope, cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions and barbecue sauce), the menu at Boogie Burger is as wide as its record collection. Having opened three years ago, Boogie Burger is the brainchild of Adrien Mougenot, who owns neighbouring restaurant L’Assiette au Boeuf. For Mougenot, fresh, quality ingredients has always been a priority. “All our burgers are made to order by our team of Boogiemen,” he enthuses, adding that the burger buns and fries are homemade too. Using seasonal products is important to Mougenot, and the menu is continually being perfected by his team. Currently popular is the

to make this privileged place accessible to Mr. Everyone.” Indeed it is ‘Mr. Everyone’ that L’Assiette au Boeuf attracts. From tourists to local businessmen and young foodies to consummate gourmets, everyone is sharing the L’Assiette au Boeuf secret. www.assietteauboeuf.fr

TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: BOOGIE BURGER

Nancy Sinatra which includes steak, parmesan cheese, chorizo, rocket, tomato and truffle sauce. There are vegetarian options too, such as the Bob Marley (aubergine, courgette, pepper, goat’s cheese, rocket, tomato and honey). Boogie Burgers can be ordered for delivery via the website Fetch. They are then delivered via bike, adding to the eatery’s eco-friendly credentials. To order visit www.fetch-livraison.com www.burgerboogie.com

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  43


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

De Haar Castle.

U P B E AT U T R E C H T

A city of music and culture With a picturesque medieval centre, café-lined canals and gabled merchants’ houses, the 2,000-year-old city of Utrecht is an ideal size for a city break. This vibrant university town has a thriving arts scene and brimming cultural calendar, not to mention world-class museums and architecture recognised by UNESCO. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: UTRECHT MARKETING

Ganzenmarkt

44  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination The Pandhof. Photo: Jurjen Drenth/ Toerisme Utrecht

Going up Not to be missed (literally) is the impressive Dom tower, which can be seen from any point in the city and boasts the highest church tower in the Netherlands. Climb the 465 steps to the top and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views over the city. A less strenuous way to sightsee is via a relaxing canal cruise, which will show you all the city sites and give you a chance to admire the numerous historical wharfside houses.

Marvellous museums If you like museums, then you will love Utrecht. A good place to start is Centraal Museum, which explores Utrecht’s fascinating cultural history via Caravaggisti paintings, modern art, costumes and much more. From philosophy to art, you will find it here. Another renowned Utrecht institution is Museum Catharijneconvent. With impressive artworks by the likes of Rembrandt, Pieter Saenredam and Jan van Scorel, it takes you on a journey through Christianity in the Netherlands. Also famous is the Het Spoorwegmuseum, the Railway Museum in Utrecht, which preserves historical equipment from the Dutch national railway. Not just for train spotters, the museum has plenty of attractions for all ages.

Wonderful surroundings If you fancy exploring further afield, Utrecht province also offers beautiful landscapes, farmhouses, manors and

magnificent castles. Do not miss the De Haar Castle, the biggest and most luxurious in the Netherlands. The verdant park and gardens surrounding it are also worth a visit.

DO NOT MISS: Tropical Butterfly Festival 1 June - 15 September Botanic Gardens and Utrecht Science Park The beautiful Botanic Gardens and the Utrecht Science Park form the backdrop for this enchanting festival. In a special greenhouse, visitors can admire the most beautiful butterflies from across the world, including Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Visiting Churches 28 June - 10 September, Various locations Thanks to free guided tours, Visiting Churches provides an opportunity to explore Utrecht's many historical church buildings such as the centuries-old Gothic ‘Dom’ cathedral to the medieval Buurkerk, St. Nicholas', St. James' and St. Gertrude's churches Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival 28 June - 2 July, Various locations An annual music festival focusing exclusively on chamber music. This year marks cellist Harriet Krijgh’s first year as artistic director.

Open Garden Day 1 July, Various locations This annual tradition takes visitors on a journey through private gardens as well as the enclosed gardens of various institutions. From church cloister quadrangles to courtyards, every garden featured has its own unique character. Utrecht Early Music Festival 25 August - 3 September This ten-day festival is held every year in the centre of Utrecht. ‘Early music’ is a collective term for music from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Enjoy more than 150 concerts, many of which are set against historic inner-city locations. Utrecht Heritage Day 9 - 10 September Between 70 to 100 monuments which are not usually accessible open their doors to the public free of charge based on a new theme each year. There will be an information stand at Domplein square where you can pick up a copy of the Monuments Bulletin containing information on all activities and open buildings. Plan your trip at www.visit-utrecht.com

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  45


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

Travel to Vietnam with Kimmade TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: KIMMADE

An ambiance to resemble those of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, taking you to narrow alleyways and filling the senses with colourful spices, subtle flavours and bustling crowds: this is Kimmade. Their Street Food eatery has brought an essential part of Vietnamese culture to Utrecht, and was recently followed by the opening of restaurant Food Village at the Oudegracht. Small in size, grand in Vietnamese cuisine: this is a quick description of Kimmade Street Food at the Mariastraat in Utrecht. Only seating 20 people has not prevented crowds forming in front of the counter, having a (short) wait for fresh Vietnamese dishes. Many take their food outside, eating while walking away or chatting to whomever they came with. Some just pop in to pick up the order they made beforehand.

A heritage of Vietnamese culture The scenario before entering is one you will see everywhere in the narrow alleyways of 46  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Hanoi’s Old Quarter: bustling street markets with people in and around small eateries, having a quick bite. Located in Southeast Asia with favourable conditions of nature and climate, the country has always produced an abundance of eatables and has honoured a cuisine of creativity for thousands of years. Partly because of Chinese and, later on, French colonial influences, their cuisine became more varied, yet has never lost its own unique features. Kimmade refers to Kim Sang Ly who, together with his wife Tan Vu, helms the restaurants. Kim is Dutch, yet has Vietnamese roots, something that translates to the traditional cuisine served at Kimmade. After having worked at other restaurants for years, they opened Kimmade Street Food in 2013. Rather quickly, the eatery became a sensation, being one of the first to truly take the authentic culture of Vietnam to Utrecht. The abundant use of fresh herbs and vegetables distinguishes Vietnamese cuisine

from those of its neighbours. “Vietnamese cuisine is light and healthy,” Tan Vu continues. “There is a balance between sweet, savoury and sour, and all ingredients are carefully selected and matched to reach the finest taste. In Vietnam, quick eating has a totally different meaning than in the West.” Kimmade greatly honours the combination of yin-yang in every meal, a way of cooking influenced by Chinese cuisine. ‘Cold’ factors such as fish are commonly combined with ‘warm’ ones such as ginger. The egg coffee (Vietnam is one of the biggest coffee exporters in the world) is the perfect combination of the ‘yin’ coffee with the ‘yang’ egg.

Utrecht’s Food Village As small, quick and narrow as Kimmade’s Street Food, the newly opened Food Village provides the opportunity to enjoy a full evening of Vietnamese goodness. With typical Vietnamese hotpot, noodles with barbeque pork or the well-balanced fish curry, Food Village also honours traditional Vietnamese cuisine.


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

But like Kimmade Street Food, Food Village is about so much more than food: it is about atmosphere and ambiance. The restaurant was designed by a Vietnamese interior designer – and that is something you feel. Food Village reflects the feeling of being in one large open-air restaurant, truly taking you to the crowded streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Min City. The large amount of light pouring in enhances the fact that the restaurant lacks loads of decorations or fuss on the walls. It does not look anything like your typical Dutch restaurant.

From Vietnam, with love Although the ambiance is somewhat different, there are many things that connect

Food Village and Street Food, including the customers. “We see a lot of customers who visit our Street Food eatery, after which they are ready for a full night of dining and take their family or friends to the new restaurant,” says Tan Vu. Can she explain the success of their restaurants? “I think the reason is twofold. Vietnamese cuisine very much reflects the current food awareness trend: Vietnamese food contains lots of fresh vegetables and is genuinely healthy. I know people who eat it three, four times a week. On the other hand, people travel to South-East Asia more and more, so if they come back they know perfectly well how the food really tastes over there. We bring back their memories.”

A very welcome feature of street food? It does not break the bank. A trip to the supermarket to get the right ingredients and cook them up into something magical will exceed Kimmade in time, effort and money. It is a final aspect of Vietnam’s culinary culture that Tan Vu and Kim have brought to Utrecht, making Kimmade a true bastion of one of Vietnam’s most important cultural heritages.

www.kimmade.nl Kimmade also offers a tailor-made catering service.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  47


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

Pure flavours TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: MARIANNE COLDENHOFF- ZEELENBERG

The small team at Concours surprises its guests night after night. Always honouring the hallmarks of flavours resembling nature and the four seasons, this intimate Utrecht-based restaurant serves up an ever-changing range of fuss-free, pure dishes. An evening at Concours is like joining a family for dinner. Instead of choosing from a solid menu, guests are merely asked about their personal culinary wishes and turnoffs when seated. What appears on your plate depends on your answer and what the chef is making that day. You can opt for a three, four or five-course menu. Dishes embody traditional the French cuisine in which chef Alex Zeelenberg was schooled. Together with his wife Lisa, he helms the restaurant. Concours is renowned for focusing greatly on pure, fresh and natural ingredients. Lisa and Alex maintain close relationships with local farmers, thus many products and ingredients are locally sourced. Their offerings are heavily season-bound and change 48  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

every week. “Every day we add one new dish to our offerings, while one dish leaves,” Lisa explains. “By the end of the week, our whole offerings have changed.” Dishes are beautifully complemented by Concours’ extensive wine list – on which almost everything is poured by the glass. The restaurant’s sommeliers gladly share their knowledge and passion of wine. Ideal for small groups is the Chef’s Table, which is located in the kitchen. Because there is no menu, it swiftly serves its guests the delicacies of the day, allowing them to truly indulge in what they came for: enjoying dinner together. The ‘open hour’ on Saturday morning provides guests with the opportunity to take a 60-minute sneak peek in the kitchen. Feel like cooking yourself? Groups of friends, family or colleagues can book a personal cooking workshop, in which Concours reveals its culinary secrets in a unique way. Concours’ choice not to serve from a menu makes it essential for the team to

know the customer well. “Our team has to estimate who the customer is, their culinary mood, if they prefer a lighter of fuller wine, and so on.” The team exclusively consists of full-time employees. “That is something we do on purpose,” Lisa concludes. “We greatly value a personal approach. Our team does so much more than just putting your plate on your table: they are responsible for your evening. That takes full-time effort.” The Chef’s Table can also be hired for meetings and business lunches. For more information visit: www.restaurantconcours.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

A unique beer tasting experience TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: STADSKASTEEL OUDAEN

Looking for a perfect place to host your business meetings, have a delicious meal or sample beer at a brewery with a difference? You are always welcome at Stadskasteel Oudaen on the Oudegracht in the centre of Utrecht. “Whether you walk in with your partner, your family or your colleagues, you will find yourself inside the most beautiful place in Utrecht,” begins Roos van Dijk, marketing manager at Oudaen. Built in the 13th century, this castle has been occupied by some of the region’s wealthiest families. The four banquet halls and the theatre are named after them, and are perfect for business meetings or dinners. “What is really rare is the brewery that is located in the castle. The recipe of the beer that is brewed here dates back to medieval times,” explains Van Dijk. The castle is the only location where it is sold. “We have guided tours at the brewery, so you can learn how it is made.

Of course, you can taste it afterwards,” she elaborates. With a beautiful dining hall on the second floor, the brewery on the first floor and a bar and terrace on the basement floor, at the canal, Stadskasteel Oudaen is the perfect place to enjoy a great meal or have drinks with friends and family. “In the coming months we will renovate the castle. Throughout that time the castle will be open to our guests. Be sure to visit now and

in a couple of months, so you can compare it, whilst enjoying our unique beers.” www.oudaen.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Utrecht  |  The Ultimate & Unforgettable Summer Destination

Taking ‘Centraal’ stage TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: BISTROT UTRECHT CENTRAAL

In an environment of haste and chaos, Bistrot Utrecht Centraal is the haven of time for yourself. With a location on the balcony of Utrecht Centraal (stunning views guaranteed) and fresh coffee, brunch, or a full-blown dinner, this bistro is your home away from home – whether for five minutes or two hours. It takes a minute to take it all in when entering Bistrot Utrecht Centraal. The food bars are set within a maze of wooden tables and sit corners, hosting people reading the paper, eating dinner, or enjoying a drink. The open kitchens provide a good view of the chopping, baking or platesetting chefs to create a homely feeling. “Travellers have different needs than people who opt for a night of eating and drinking,” says Walter Seib, CEO of HMSHost International. “Bistrot Utrecht Centraal serves all: from the businesswoman in a rush to catch the train, to friends meeting up for a relaxed brunch.” This concept was designed in collaboration with 50  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and reflects the spirit of today’s world: a kitchen of territories, a set of diversified ideas or concepts and eating places where it is possible to enjoy a ‘full immersion’ experience in local flavours and gastronomic cultures. Most ingredients are sourced from producers within a 50-kilometre radius. Almost everything is homemade. “Our chefs are craftsmen,” Seib continues. “They still make bread or pasta from A to Z.” The menu lists delicacies such as freshly Bistrot Utrecht Centraal: Welcomes over 20,000 visitors per month Hosts people for an average time of 30 minutes Uses 275 kilos of flour per month Can be visited in 15 travel locations worldwide Counts 350 seats in Utrecht The bestselling dish is the organic hamburger

baked focaccia, ‘antipasti’ and meat from the grill. Customers can compose their own meal of greens at the salad bar, while the Bakery and Versmarkt serve up more of everything fresh. We are not sure if it is the scents of fresh coffee and bread, the homely ambiance, or the rich pasta on our neighbour’s plate, but no matter how busy you are: Bistrot Utrecht Centraal makes you consider missing your next train. www.facebook.com/bistrotutrechtcentraal HMSHost International: feeling good on the move Bistrot Utrecht Centraal is a restaurant from HMSHost International, the world’s largest provider of food and beverage services for travellers. Being a recognised leader that creates innovative dining for people on the move worldwide, HMSHost wants people on the move to reach their destination happier, safer, and more satisfied. www.hmshost.international


Enjoy the good life....

The history of De Havixhorst dates back to the Medieval Ages when peasants began settling on the high grounds along the banks of the Reest River on the border between Drenthe and Overijssel. At De Havixhorst you can spend the night in authentic style. The château has thirteen exclusive hotel rooms, and every one of them has its own unique character. Staying at De Havixhorst means spending a few days as a guest of the family. De Havixhorst also welcomes you for a regional dinner, cooked by the chef and his staff. Almost immediately you will understand how De Havixhorst quickly earned its reputation as one of the top Dutch restaurants. Groups ranging from two to 500 people can be accommodated at De Havixhorst. De Havixhorst offers stylish venues for both small and large groups. Expect a charming and authentic ambience with modern facilities. De Havixhorst has years of experience organising celebrations, presentations, events and meetings of all sizes.

www.dehavixhorst.nl

★★★★ Schiphorsterweg 34-36 7966 AC De Schiphorst The Netherlands T: +31 (0)522 44 14 87

info@dehavixhorst.nl


DECCA CLASSICS.

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Janine Jansen

52  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview |  Janine Jansen

JANINE JANSEN

Utrecht’s musical treasure Janine Jansen brings tears to the eyes of audiences across the globe with her gentle lyricism and poignant performances. Born in 1978 in the Dutch province of Utrecht, she has gone on to become one of the world’s greatest violin players, praised not just for her musical prowess; but for the sincerity and feeling with which she plays. On 28 June, she will play in the opening concert of the prestigious Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival; an event that Jansen herself founded back in 2003. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: © DECCA/MARCO BORGGREVE

This year will be the first edition of the Utrecht International Chamber Music Festival not to be curated by Jansen who, after a very successful 13 years at the helm, decided to pass on her role as creative director to 25-year-old Harriet Krijgh. “It was a very big part of my life and it will always stay very close to my heart,” explains the artist. “But it takes a lot of energy and I felt it was time to pass it to the next generation – the new creative director is a wonderful young cellist.”

with music and to play the instruments for a little bit.”

The five-day-long festival is world renowned and welcomes both international stars and young ensembles. According to Jansen, it was always just as important to invite rising stars as well as big names.

“It’s funny how, of course, kids pick up everything that their parents and the family around them do,” she smiles, revealing that her niece is already following the family tradition.

“It should be about letting young talent play and giving them a stage, such as when I gave hundreds of young violinists the chance to play together with me and my friends. That was a really nice experience,” she recalls. “It’s definitely important to inspire young people. It’s important to give everybody a chance to be in contact with music.

“My oldest brother has two daughters and I love being an auntie; it’s so wonderful. The oldest one is nearly four and just started to have violin lessons.”

“During the festival we always made sure to also do concerts especially for very young kids. I mean, even my two-yearold niece would go just to get contact

A musical dynasty Music has always been in Jansen’s life: her father is an organist and harpsichord player, while her mother is a singer. Both her brothers are also musicians. “There was just always music at home. There were so many instruments in the house; a piano, two harpsichords, even an organ,” she recalls.

She has a head start on Jansen, who was six when she first began playing the violin. Her natural gift soon became apparent, but success would not come without a huge amount of hard work and determination. “When I started to play, it was not more than half an hour a day, but that increased very quickly,” she remembers. “I always

enjoyed it. Well, I mean, of course there were times when I would have rather gone outside to play, but it never felt like ‘oh I have to practise’. “I was just a normal child, but I knew I wanted to play the violin so I knew I had to practise. That was part of it.”

Passionate performer At what age did the young Jansen realise she could make a career out of her talent? “I can never really find an answer to that question because it just kind of gradually happened. I loved to play, it was just part of my life.” Was there anything else that Jansen could have ended up doing? Another impossible question. “I cannot imagine my life without music,” she admits. Fortunately, one does not have to imagine such a scenario. As she approaches her 40th birthday, Jansen’s career seems to be one triumph after another. This season she is artist-in-residence at both the Philharmonie Luxembourg and the London Symphony Orchestra, in addition to her residency at leading recital venue Wigmore Hall, not to mention performing with the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Belgique. Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  53


Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Janine Jansen

Heart strings Nowadays, Jansen is married to Swedish conductor Daniel Blendulf, and spends her time between touring in either Utrecht or Stockholm. Does she have a favourite place to perform? “There are so many wonderful places. I mean, there are certain places that I come back to very regularly like London, that feels really special. I feel very welcome here. And whenever you play in places where you have family and friends it feels very special.” Last year, Jansen officially received the 1707 Stradivarius ‘Rivaz–Baron Gutmann’ violin on loan from Dextra Musica, an Oslo-based foundation that normally only lends instruments to Norwegian musicians. “That was a big thing for me,” she grins. “I’m so lucky that they gave me the chance to play this for many years. It’s a big opportunity and so inspiring to play.” What adventures await the artist and her beloved new golden period ‘Strad’? Having already worked with the world’s most eminent orchestras, released a number of successful albums, and has been bestowed prizes including the Dutch Music Prize (2003) and the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award (2009), does Jansen have anything left on her to-do list?

There is also a visit to Asia with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to fit in. “It’s very interesting to see how different audiences are throughout the world,” she explains, pointing out that Eastern concert-goers are often “very focused”.

connects people in a hall with energy and the focus – but that can happen in many different ways. This sounds extremely corny to say, but I just feel very lucky to be to be involved in something so special and powerful.”

“But I feel like I’m generalising too much,” she muses. “It’s not about how people show what they are feeling. For me, the most important thing is how people receive the music. They don’t have to show that in any way.

Jansen was born in Soest, a town in the centre of the Netherlands, with the city of Utrecht playing an important role in her formative years. “My father was the organist of the Dom Church. My grandfather was the choir conductor. I went there from an early age and I feel very strongly connected to that place – to that city and also church music.”

“The music is for the heart and soul. It’s very beautiful and music is powerful – if it 54  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

“I have so many dreams, thank God!” she laughs. “The main wish is just to continue this very exciting and inspiring journey, to meet different musicians and experience wonderful things that will change my view on things or develop my ideas about things – not only as a musician, but also in life. “Of course, there are some pieces I haven’t played yet, musicians I haven’t played with yet, concert halls that I have not played. But it is more a general feeling of just staying open and being inspired. That’s the wish!” Looking to the future, could Jansen ever see herself retiring? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. “I really do not want to stop and I cannot think of a reason why I would,” she concludes. “Music is in my veins.”


DECCA CLASSICS.

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview |  Janine Jansen

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  55


Discover Benelux  |  Rotterdam  |  The Perfect Summer City Break

View from Euromast over skyline. Photo: Claire Droppert

REIGNING ROTTERDAM

A city on the up Cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and vibrant nightlife are just a few of the reasons Rotterdam was named by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top cities for travellers in 2016. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: ROTTERDAM PARTNERS

Office buildings and homes at Wijnhaven canal. Photo: Iris van den Broek

56  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Rotterdam  |  The Perfect Summer City Break Photo: Iris van den Broek

The ‘Kubuswoningen’ at ‘Blaak’. Photo: Jan van der Ploeg

A rising star

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY:

Robert Mapplethorpe, een perfectionist

Rotterdam is a paradise for architecture aficionados. From the iconic Rotterdam Cube Houses to the colossal Maastoren (165 metres high), the city is an ode to design innovation. Another unmissable presence on the city skyline is the Euromast tower (185 metres high), from which there are spectacular views. Meanwhile, the Kunsthal museum, which was designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas, is a symbol of modern architecture and boasts a surface area of 3,300 square metres. Aside from its architectural kudos, the museum has a reputation as one of the best places to see experimental art, photography and design exhibitions in the Netherlands.

Rotterdam Rooftop Days

Until 27 August, The Kunsthal

9 - 11 June

A large-scale retrospective of the life and

Various cultural sites in Rotterdam

work of Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989).

The precious port When you think of Rotterdam, its famous port springs to mind. With the Maas River flowing through the city, many of the key attractions are indeed related to water. An emblem of the city’s close ties with the sea is the glorious SS Rotterdam, which is the biggest passenger ship ever built on Dutch soil. Known as the city’s ‘Grande Dame’, it now houses a hotel and popular bar and you can even take a tour. Ahoy sailor!

June is Rotterdam Architecture Month and

Comprising portraits, nudes and still life im-

one of the highlights is Rotterdam Rooftop

ages, as well as rare letters and notes, the

Days in which over 40 of the city’s rooftops

exhibition offers an insight into the artist’s

are briefly opened to the public for events

methods and highlights his experimental side.

ranging from intimate concerts to silent discos and movie nights – all with spectacular

World Port Days

views as the backdrop.

1 - 3 September, Port of Rotterdam The 40th edition of the World Port Days will

Roffa Mon Amour

be held in September. Every year during the

19 - 30 July, Hofplein

event Rotterdam celebrates its port, high-

Every summer the hugely popular Roffa Mon

lighting the bond between the port and the

Amour event transforms former train station

town.

Hofplein into a film festival honouring rising cinematic talent. Over 12 days viewers can

ETNOMANIE

enjoy a selection of the best films from up-

Until 3 September

coming directors across the world.

The Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek has se-

Rotterdam Unlimited

lected a selection of ethno-historical photo-

25 - 29 July, Various city centre locations

graphs from the Nederlands Fotomuseum’s

Celebrating the city’s cosmopolitan diversi-

World Collection. Alongside designer Mary

ty, Rotterdam Unlimited is a five-day festival

Pelders Vos these images have been digitally

combining music, dance, theatre, storytelling

styled and the results are displayed as life-

and much more. As one of the biggest festi-

size images on canvas.

vals in the Netherlands focusing on diversity, Rotterdam Unlimited attracts more than

To start planning your trip visit

900,000 visitors from all over Europe.

www.rotterdam.info

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  57


Discover Benelux  |  Rotterdam  |  The Perfect Summer City Break

Paradise among concrete TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: MARK BOLK

Beer, barbecue, sun, and good company. What else do you need? Not much, according to Biergarten. Opening its doors in 2012, this outdoor-only bar has won over many Rotterdam (and other) hearts purely by excelling in the best things in life. A pleasantly burning sun, ice-cold beer, softly flowing music and banter at just the right volume. This is an afternoon at Biergarten. Set right next to Rotterdam’s central station, this bar does exactly as its name suggests: serving beer in the open air. Yet beer is only half of it; Biergarten knows what else is important. The menu lists charcoal-grilled food, fresh salads, snacks, and more. Beer lovers can enjoy beer on tap and some 30 specialty beers, but Biergarten also has a heart for wine and cider. Want to take it easy? Do not leave without trying the lemonade. The house beer is Gulpener, a Dutch family 58  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

brewery known for its organic beer and locally sourced produce. Before becoming a sensation in Rotterdam, Biergarten started off with nothing more than a few wooden benches, a modest barbecue and small beer tap on an almost deserted industry territory. “We still found ourselves in the middle of the crisis,” begins co-owner Nikki van Dijk. “People would come for a beer after work, surrounded by good company and some music in the background. It was all we needed.” It did not take long for the group to grow bigger, attracting many of Rotterdam’s most interesting inhabitants and quickly turning Biergarten into a concrete city paradise. After its opening, Biergarten quickly became a major name in Rotterdam, serving as the ideal décor for after-work drinks or weekend lounging. “Or first dates,” Van Dijk laughs. “Biergarten is the perfect spot to take – or find – your new love.” Tradi-

tional Friday afternoon drinks have gotten a totally different meaning at Biergarten, who turned their Friday-Drinks into the week’s headlight for many. Hosted by their very own Biergarten Soundsystem, FridayDrinks welcomes DJs and sometimes acoustic live performances, comedians or other friends to celebrate the weekend. Freedom and simplicity: two terms hard to grasp, but that Biergarten fully embodies. By knowing their priorities in life and fully making those its hallmark, it is the only spot you need for summer. www.biergartenrotterdam.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Rotterdam  |  The Perfect Summer City Break

Dance under the stars The Suicide Club grabs life by the horns. Offering everything for the modern urbanite, the cosmopolitan rooftop bar combines some of the best things the city has to offer: champion cocktails, bewitching bites and never-ending nights – all under the watchful eye of Rotterdam’s skyline. You only have to step out of the lift to notice the different air at Suicide Club. Besides the grand oval bar, welcoming dance floor and open kitchen, the view over Rotterdam’s skyline and its famous harbour is simply stunning. The Suicide Club is a gastronomic restaurant, bar, and intimate club. With 50 metres of stretched-out terrace, it is the first and only true rooftop bar in Rotterdam. The club and kitchen – helmed by chef Freek Dekker – opens in the afternoon and serves up bites that compete with decadent meals in the city’s best restaurants (oysters, black tiger shrimps

or cauliflower tempura, anyone?). Those hungry late at night need not worry as the kitchen is open until 11pm. Alongside a great selection of wines, spirits, liqueurs and beers, the Suicide Club prides itself on serving the best cocktails in town. Fuelled constantly by a creative, ambitious and dedicated team, the menu comprises Suicide Club originals and re-invented classics. After the dinner comes the dancing. The Suicide Club allows you to dance until the late, or early, hours, with frequent national and international entertainers ranging from magicians to vinyl DJs. The Suicide Club will give you a night you will not forget. Without Rotterdam’s characteristic skyline, the Suicide Club would make you forget where you are; you could be on a rooftop in Manhattan, Tokyo, or Cape Town. www.thesuicideclub.nl

Ayla: culinary crossroad From Beirut to Casablanca, off to Seville via Istanbul: step into Ayla and you will travel the Mediterranean. Translating the cultural melting pot of Rotterdam to your plate, this bustling restaurant makes you feel very much at home – while at the same time very far away. It is no wonder Ayla is located at the Kruisplein Rotterdam. From this square in the heart of the city, many ways lead to various places: from Chinatown to the theatre hub and from the shopping centre to cultural sights. “Ayla’s location reflects the internationality and warmth of Rotterdam,” says co-owner Nikki

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: MARK BOLK

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: JESAJA HIZKIA

van Dijk. “It is a crossroads of all the cultures living, working, staying, wandering and loving in Rotterdam.” Sharing is caring is something Ayla has taken at heart, with tapas made for sharing (even though you probably will not want to). The menu is constantly changing and serves up tapas with a twist that honours culinary traditions. The subtle yet strong combination of flavours and the crisp and fresh quality of the ingredients makes you think you are eating at a Mediterranean market. With great food, comes great drinks. Ayla imports its own spirits, only to have them fully distilled afterwards. “Our bartenders start off with a pure, clean-

slate spirit,” Van Dijk continues. “By adding the right Mediterranean essences and extracts, the result is a totally new and surprising aperitif.” Like its menu, Ayla’s interior is an eclectic mix of cultures, boasting colourful features and works from local artists. Add the bustling atmosphere and mouthwatering aromas to that, and you have found the perfect mix between a cosy Rotterdam living room and an exotic faraway bazar. Ayla is open seven days a week. www.ayla.nl

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  59


Discover Benelux  |  Rotterdam  |  The Perfect Summer City Break

Italian nostalgia in the heart of Rotterdam TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: CAPRI

For almost 60 years, the people of Rotterdam and beyond have known where to go for pure Italian ice cream: Ijssalon Capri. Through its hallmarks of craftsmanship, natural ingredients and above all authentic Italian passion for ice cream, Capri has become an absolute staple in ‘the city at the Maas’. From trusted flavours such as hazelnut and vanilla to the quirkier dark truffle and spicy chocolate: since its opening in 1957, Ijssalon Capri has been frontrunner and keeper of quality on the ice cream front. Guests can choose from some 40 flavours that constantly change depending on the season, and new ones are frequently added to the list. Of course, real Italian coffee also adorns the menu. From day one Capri has been making and selling purely self-crafted ice cream. Artificial flavours or conservatives never enter the kitch-

Rock the boat It is an outsider of the best kind: Vessel 11. Being one of two British gastropubs in the Netherlands, this charming pub, restaurant and music venue is located on an old light vessel in the heart of Rotterdam, providing a beautiful British backdrop for every occasion. You cannot miss it when approaching Vessel 11: the 1951-born, red lightship towers proudly above the harbour, with its deck-turnedterrace making us lust for long summer waterside nights. Vessel 11 served as a lightship in the Irish sea and was in service until 1991.

en. “We make absolutely everything we sell ourselves,” says owner Claudio Burdo. “The strawberry ice cream contains real strawberries and our cookie ice cream is made from homemade cookies.” Do not leave Capri without trying a true Italian brioche: a sweet-flavoured bread with ice cream inside. “The brioche is a real Italian thing. It sounds a bit strange to some, but once guests have tried it, they keep coming back for more,” Burdo laughs. Alongside spoiling their own customers, Capri’s ice cream can also be found in other parlours in the Netherlands. Besides that, Capri was one of the first to recognise ice-cakes as an arguably more delicious alternative to cake. Their ice-cakes are sold to individuals and business all over the country, proving once more that Capri’s reputation has been transcending the city of Rotterdam since its doors opened 60 years ago.

Photo: Marcel van Beek

www.capri.nl www.capri-ijstaart.nl

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: VESSEL 11

Nowadays it is helmed by Jan Visser and his wife Brontë Flecker, who also reside at the ship. Upon entering, the typical British pub vibe kicks in. Cosy yet robust, Vessel 11 boasts a warm interior with a home-like ambiance. It is not just the interior that is tasteful. The chef serves up the best of British cuisine, showing us there is much more to it than the typical English breakfast or fish and chips. “Sunday roast, Beef Wellington: the Brits have a very rich cuisine,” Visser enthuses. Of course, you should not leave Vessel 11 without trying one of their home-brewed beers, such as the Skunky Red Ale.

The lower deck boasts a live concert venue that can host up to 100 guests and where – in collaboration with Rotown – alternative music gigs are held weekly. Have something to celebrate? Vessel 11 is the perfect setting for any kind of celebration such as a wedding or business event. Quirky extra: Always wanted to sail in a hot tub? Now you can: check out www.vessel11.nl

Photo: Bente van der Zalm

60  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


FITLAND XL LEIDEN LEIDEN FITLAND XL YOUR HEALTHY ESCAPE FITLAND XLESCAPE LEIDEN YOUR HEALTHY YOUR HEALTHY ESCAPE

HAMPSHIRE HOTEL HAMPSHIRE HOTEL

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CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTRE CEC Leiden offers plenty of opportunities as a venue for medium-sized conferences CONFERENCE and events. A location with many possibilities & EVENTS in decoration, preparation and catering. CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTRE Excellent service and good communication:

CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTRE

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CEC Leiden plenty of opportunities makingoffers each event successful! CEC Leiden offers plenty of opportunities as a venue for medium-sized conferences as a venue for medium-sized conferences and events. A location with many possibilities and events. A location with many possibilities in decoration, preparation and catering. in decoration, preparation and catering. Excellent service and good communication: Excellent service and good communication: making each event successful! RESTAURANT TWELVE making each event successful! Twelve Restaurant is the restaurant with the most beautiful panorama view of Leiden. The modern bar, facing the west,

RESTAURANT

offers you a view of the dune heads of the North Sea beach. It is possible to reserve the restaurant exclusively for groups.

RESTAURANT TWELVE RESTAURANT Twelve Restaurant is TWELVE the restaurant with Twelve Restaurant is the restaurant the most beautiful panorama view of with FITLAND XL LEIDEN l IN THE LEVEL BUILDING AND NEXT TO CS LEIDEN the mostThe beautiful of Leiden. modernpanorama bar, facingview the west, Bargelaan 180 l 2333 CW Leiden l + 31 (0) 71 870 02 60 l offers you a view of the dune heads of the Leiden. The modern bar, facing the west, salesleiden@fitland.nl l www.fitlandhotelleiden.nl North Sea It isthe possible to reserve offers you abeach. view of dune heads of the

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Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

Photo: dreamstime.com

TOP TECHNOLOGY EXPERTS IN BELGIUM

At the forefront of tech innovation It may be a small country, but Belgium is brimming with tech talent and unique start-ups. We decided it was time to put the spotlight on some of the country’s most exciting innovators.

Successful Belgian start-ups Playing a fundamental role in entrepreneurship in Belgium is the agency Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen (Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship). This government agency encourag62  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

es and supports innovation, contributing to the booming business climate. Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen helps new firms get their feet off the ground in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking re-

gion, offering support when it comes to financing, as well as providing information on topics ranging from permits to locations and ecological technologies. For more information, visit www.vlaio.be


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

Photo: New Tinxs

Photo: New Tinxs

The Belgian tech companies you need to know about From the Internet of things (IoT) and cloud services to innovative apps, we profile Belgium’s top tech firms.

New Tinxs Based in the old medieval town of Bruges, New Tinxs are Belgium’s market leaders in Guest Wi-Fi and are at the forefront of developing new applications in the rapidly growing IoT market. Read more from page 64

Photo: Gifts by Sir

Gifts by Sir Developed by four friends in Belgium, Gifts by Sir is a novel app which acts as a personal shopping assistant. It uses a smart algorithm to work out which gifts to offer to any recipient. Read more from page 66

Hello Customer

Photo: Hello Customer

Based in Ghent and in London, the team at Hello Customer are experts in building software and place customer centricity at the very core of their activities. Read more from page 67

SweepBright SweepBright offers an innovative new method for managing real estate transactions which simplifies the sales process and can help save time and money. Read more from page 68

Photo: SweepBright

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  63


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

Roaming free TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT  |  PHOTOS: NEW TINXS

Enjoy hassle-free, fast and flexible internet access throughout Europe with your very own Linxs portable and powerful 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Linxs is the latest innovative device developed by pioneering Wi-Fi and IoT (Internet of Things) specialists New Tinxs. No bigger than an iPhone 7 Plus, this groundbreaking device combines an advanced mobile router with the futuristic functionalities of an IoT sensor hub.

Guest Wi-Fi Based in the old medieval town of Bruges, New Tinxs are Belgium’s market leaders in Guest Wi-Fi and at the forefront of developing new applications in the rapidly growing IoT market. “In Belgium we have 64  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

around two million registered users of our Guest Wi-Fi,” says New Tinxs CEO Gery Pollet. “These include several large companies who want to provide safe, reliable and smooth access for their employees and visitors.” One of New Tinxs’ biggest clients is De Lijn, Belgium’s largest and one of Europe’s major public transport companies. New Tinxs have built and operate a complete Guest Wi-Fi solution for De Lijn’s public transport network of buses and trams, serving hundreds of thousands of passengers each month. The advanced technology used in these high-end Wi-Fi routers has now been harnessed in a powerful, portable device the size of a mobile phone. “More and more of our business clients were ask-

ing for a small, affordable device which would support 4G and Wi-Fi as well as multiple IoT sensors,” Gery explains. “So we sat down with our technology partner imec, who helped us to develop and miniaturise the hardware. The end result is a powerful device which fits in the palm of your hand.”

Free roaming Linxs provides hassle-free, fast and flexible internet across Europe. “You don’t need a 4G subscription anymore,” says Gery. “And with new EU regulations coming into force this June, there are no extra charges for roaming in 28 European countries.” The device comes with a prepaid 4G sim card which you top up online at competitive prices and which


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

provides cheap internet and safe access to your company’s network. “It’s the ideal solution for international business travel.”

Multiple devices, multiple users Another major advantage of Linxs is that it supports multiple devices and multiple users. Anyone who has travelled abroad knows how frustrating it can be if you have a poor Wi-Fi signal, but no 4G on your tablet or laptop. Linxs represents an ideal solution, especially for business people who need to be able to work in a flexible way and turn any environment into a mobile office. Linxs is also ideal for holiday makers and car travellers. “You pitch up your tent or caravan, or turn the key of your holiday home, and presto, the kids can log straight onto their Facebook or Instagram accounts,” Gery explains. “Meanwhile, you can watch a film, the latest sports or just enjoy the peace around you. Similarly, on long car journeys, it’s the ideal device to keep your children

happy and yourself sane – all on one 4G roaming account.”

IoT functionality As well as an advanced mobile router, the Linxs also comes with a range of futuristic IoT functionalities. IoT is the internetworking of physical devices which use software, sensors and network connectivity to collect and exchange data, connecting the physical world with the virtual world. Linxs’ built-in sensors and 3D Gyroscope provide you with GPS, and data on speed, vibration, movement, temperature, humidity, air quality, CO2, proximity, light, noise (dB), and atmospheric pressure. Plus, it is easy to add more sensors. “Our technology allows boat owners to monitor their yacht moored somewhere in Spain, while they themselves are in Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels,” Gery explains. “But it can also be used by insurance companies to introduce flexible premiums for their policies, based on the

account holder’s driving behaviour. Local governments or pressure groups can use it to monitor air quality in their cities. The possibilities are almost endless and more applications are developed every day.”

Reliability As well as flexibility and accessibility, Linxs also provides safe internet surfing. “With internet hacks and ransomware becoming more and more of a threat, being able to depend on technology to keep you safe and secure is more important than ever before,” asserts Gery. “Linxs runs on the OpenSource Linux operating system, which is known for its excellent stability. All communications are securely encrypted using the latest Wi-Fi protocols, and the system supports the latest security and networking standards. So you can rest assured and roam Europe to your heart’s content, while exploring the internet whenever and wherever you need it.” www.linxs.io/en/what-is-linxs

Photo: Thinkstock

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  65


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

An end to present tension TEXT: SALLY TIPPER  |  PHOTOS: COURTESY GIFTS BY SIR

Four friends have a present for you – a personal shopper that promises the perfect gift for every occasion. Looking for the ideal gift for friends or family but do not have the time to scour the shops? Leave it to Sir. Gifts by Sir is a free app developed by four friends in Belgium who had all found themselves in the same situation time after time: stressing over finding that perfect present. So they came up with a virtual shopping assistant that does the hard work for you. “Just specify your budget, answer a few yes or no questions about the lucky recipient and in no time, Gifts By Sir will come up with ideas for an original present,” explains Vincent Pirenne, who set up the company with friends Dries Vandermeulen, Manu Vollens and Stein Vermeulen. “There’s a suggestion for every budget,” he adds. “One of our best-sellers is a handmade leather notebook by Midori. It’s the ideal gift for

creative types and travellers. We work with local businesses to ensure we can offer this sort of unique object, and help people surprise friends or family with original gifts without the hassle.” The app uses a smart algorithm to work out which gifts to offer to any recipient, be they girlfriend, husband, sister, dad or friend. Customers pay directly through the app and

arrange for objects to be gift-wrapped and delivered to their door. Gifts by Sir is free, and currently only available in Belgium. Just a few months since its launch, it has already been downloaded thousands of times. www.giftsbysir.com

LEFT: Co-founder Vincent Pirenne. RIGHT: This handmade leather notebook is one of the company’s bestselling gift ideas


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium  |  Top Technology Experts

Customer feedback as a driver for success TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: HELLO CUSTOMER

As many organisations will acknowledge, customer feedback is vital for a healthy business. But when Belgian Leslie Cottenjé found out how meagre feedback systems in (big) businesses were set up, she and her team at Hello Customer set out to build a new generation in feedback systems. It was a great success and is already part of the AXA Bank and several fashion retailers, with some big names knocking at Hello Customer’s door. Being part of a digital agency for five years, Leslie Cottenjé hit a brick wall multiple times when it came to customer understanding of some big projects. “Football teams, multinationals, retailers; they all wanted us to build a valuable digital platform for their customers, but they were never to define that value for customers. Because they failed to really know and understand them. I found that to be so paradoxical, given these businesses invested heavily in all kinds of CRMs. “The problem lies in the way they look at customers: inside out. What do we want to know, what facts can we easily gather. It’s a very me-centric factual approach which

pigeonholes every customer, leading to big paralysing data without insight or actionability.” Cottenjé gathered a team of engineers and data scientists around this mission to do things differently: building a platform that turns things completely upside down. No more long surveys, but a simple question after any interaction that leaves room for honest open feedback. “It’s an open question, meaning most businesses will ask how we can even parse that data, but that’s where ISAAC comes in, our Artificial Intelligence engine,” says Cottenjé. “Isaac stands for Industry Specific Analysis and Categorisation and was engineered with the backing of Ghent University. ISAAC is capable of reading, interpreting and categorising the feedback data, and will tell you which business aspects your customers like and dislike. In the back, the system gathers all relevant data revolved around that interaction: context, customer data and transactional data. The insights of cross-referencing all these sources are massive for our customers and bring out what they couldn’t have via long surveys. And if the result would be

the same, our way of getting to it makes insights a lot more powerful. If customers tell you things without you asking about them, the relevance of that skyrockets.” With Hello Customer, Cottenjé was able to see the three main business aspects that are intrinsic to most feedback results: product/service, staff interaction and location. “By applying the subtleties of the meta-data, retailers can respond adequately, meaning they can motivate their staff better or apply successful innovations to a whole chain, resulting in a higher return of investment and more engagement with the customer base. There is no more direct measurement than the evolution lines of trends in what customers say.” To find out more about Hello Customer, visit www.hellocustomer.com

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  67


Discover Benelux  |  Top Technology Experts  |  Belgium

S W E E P B R I G H T:

A smooth solution for better real estate TEXT: DAAN APPELS  |  PHOTOS: RAMZY BENTRAD

The charm of real estate is selling beautiful properties to happy people, and reducing the time spent on the bureaucratic work that comes with the job. SweepBright is a software solution that places real estate agents at the heart of the process.

sales and administration and stops where the legal process begins. “For example, we are integrating with a Unites Statesbased company that takes care of all the legal work for real estate companies in order to avoid doing twice the work,” says Speaker.

SweepBright founders and native Belgians Yoram Speaker and Raphael Bochner have been working with real estate-related software for years and were surprised by the inefficiency of the current software handling the less attractive sides of the job. The work flow could certainly be smoother, says Speaker. “I saw that real estate agents were facing problems with the software they are currently using, and this can be avoided and resolved in a way that is much more up to date. We do really believe in the added value of the real estate agents when searching for a property. We invented this tool so that they can fully focus on their main business, on what they are good at.”

Apart from the global usability of SweepBright, SweepBright can be used on a mobile device, a rare feature in real estate software. On top of that, SweepBright is extremely user-friendly. In half an hour, a real estate agent can fill in all relevant features of a house and save it in the system.

Moreover, SweepBright is becoming more global thanks to integrations with third-party apps and real estate portals in different countries. The app goes as far as 68  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Yoram Speaker (left) and Raphael Bochner.

With one press of a button he can share the house on social media and real estate platforms. SweepBright originated on a piece of paper a few years ago. Today, SweepBright is based in Antwerp and New York. Their main objective is to put the human being, the real estate agent, in their true role. Prices for using the app start from 68 pounds a month (VAT excluded). For more information, visit www.sweepbright.com


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Contact Luxembourg Congrès via: Email: info@luxcongress.lu or by phone: +352 8572017  751 |  69 Issue 42  430 |  June


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium Business Profile  |  Digital Media Experts

Digital strategy with a difference TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: OLIVIER TRUYMAN

Since launching in 2008, digital media agency blue2purple has established itself as a leader in digital strategy. The firm’s success is reflected in its unique name: “The first time you find a link on a search engine it’s blue, but once you click on it, it becomes purple. That’s what we do - turn blue to purple!” grins client service director Gaëtan Godart. A completely independent agency, there are eight values at the heart of blue2purple: being result and customer-oriented, as well as providing expertise, agility, transparency, efficiency, innovation and strategic support. Gaëtan joined blue2purple eight years ago and his passion for the company is palpable. “They are all amazing peo70  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

ple,” he enthuses when asked about his co-workers.

world even, that can bring that expertise to our customers.”

“We are split into teams according to specific areas of expertise from which consultants who help our customers define their strategy. We also have a tech team to help us build everything we need to create successful campaigns and strategies.”

The agency is also the first in Belgium to be Blueprint-certified by Facebook.

Google & Facebook accredited blue2purple was one of the tech giant’s first partner agencies in Belgium and every staff member is Google-accredited in its area of expertise. “We have Googleaccredited departments dedicated to Google Analytics, AdWords and YouTube. Regarding Google Analytics, we are one of just a few companies in Belgium, in the

United and powerful “All our experts are experts in their field, but they are also capable of understanding their colleagues’ expertise. That makes us united and powerful,” asserts Gaëtan, adding that this policy is particularly demanding due to the way certifications regularly change and require updating. “Every team member has to pass the certifications each time they evolve. This is practically unheard of in the market, but it lets us reflect better and look at a larger strategy.”


Discover Benelux  |  Belgium Business Profile  |  Digital Media Experts

International expansion The 39-strong blue2purple team are spread over offices in Brussels and Madagascar, as well as a recently launched Paris branch. The firm’s Madagascar bureau is part of an NGO project to promote the digital industry and offer work in a place where there are issues with internet connectivity. Innovation is key at blue2purple, with the company always staying ahead of the game and setting itself apart from its competitors. “We have just hired new people in the data science industry and we are already following the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law coming in 2018 related to data privacy,” reveals Gaëtan.

A new kind of service The company’s goal is to reinvent the way people buy and manage media. “We are moving to a new kind of service, more of a consultancy approach where we accompany our clients throughout the whole campaign, from A to Z. We often go to their offices to facilitate contact, to better understand their evolving needs in due time and thus easily adapt the campaign to real customised solutions. It means we work in full transparency: the client

knows exactly what we do; how much time we spend optimising the campaign. Therefore they agree to pay for our expertise,” he enthuses. “We have already built strong relationships with clients accepting that model and they really like it.”

Brand awareness In addition to generating website traffic for its clients, around two years ago blue2purple entered into the realm of brand awareness campaigns, working closely with a company called DoubleClick. Thanks to this evolution, the company is offering a full digital media strategy that fits every stage of the consumer buying cycle.

Big clients “Developing brand awareness campaigns was something different for us, and meant we were competing with traditional media agencies like Omnicom and MediaCom,” recalls Gaëtan. “We are really proud because we have actually won several clients in that field such as 20th Century Fox.” A few months ago the team won another new client - tyre manufacturer Goodyear Dunlop. “In the past we were more in competition with search engine agencies

while we are today competing with huge traditional media agencies against which we proudly won the pitch for Goodyear Dunlop!” blue2purple is able to address worldwide campaigns thanks to international planning and buying platforms allowing it to cover many countries and languages.

A specific digital approach The company’s recent victory was an important signal that the industry is changing its attitude to the way digital media is managed: “Now, people are thinking about a specific digital approach, rather than just tacking it onto traditional media methods.”

Measuring success As Gaëtan concludes, blue2purple focuses on digital media because it is the only media that offers a measure of success in real time. “You can only measure the success of a TV campaign later. We only do campaigns which offer a measurable return.” Having seen positive growth every year since its launch, blue2purple certainly has a lot of success to measure. To find out more visit www.blue2purple.com

Gaëtan Godart.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  71


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Column

The case for unions So many people hate trade unions. Abuses of power, the selfish over-protection of members’ interests, and rule by predominantly male, pale and stale leaders, are just some of the reasons they give for their hostility to organised labour. In the recent re-election of Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite the Union in the UK, only 12 per cent of its members bothered to vote – hardly a resounding endorsement of union democracy or of a leader who claims to speak for 1.4 million workers. Elsewhere across the world, examples of union corruption abound. Chinese union leaders are usually mere party stooges. Yet the case for adequate employee representation in the workplace has never been stronger. The British TUC tells us that more people are killed at work every year than in wars. Certainly, millions of workers globally lack even the most basic rights or health and safety protection. Trade unionists standing up for better pay and conditions suffer unfair dismissal, arrest, torture and execution on a daily basis. The

deaths of 1,129 garment workers in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 is just one example among many of the price workers in poor countries pay to provide cheap goods to consumers elsewhere. So, the internationalisation of trade unionism is one very positive development. International union federations nurture employee representation in hostile environments. Organisations like LabourStart campaign online to get union reps out of jail. Norwegian plumbers plumb African villages during their holidays through a union scheme. Progressive companies like Solvay have built on the consultation process established by their European Works Council to sign a Global Framework Agreement covering all their employees worldwide. There are other pluses. In countries like Norway where worker directors sit on company boards, their presence serves as a brake on escalating executive pay. In the UK, some unions are now operating community unionism schemes, which enable them to help protect services for local people and build bridges be-

TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

tween the workplace and the wider society. Union Learning Representatives play an important role in addressing the UK’s 20 per cent rate of functional illiteracy among adults. Unions in some European countries still foster a confrontational culture in their dealings with management. In others, unions and management cooperate in a mature and effective way. Good unions can be one more important means of building good communication in the workplace. Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally: steveflind@aol.com.

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 UK Tel.: 03333-440 779 Email: info@nbcc.co.uk Or visit:

www.nbcc.co.uk

72  |  Issue 40  |  April 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK

question: what is really next in business transformation? www.finext.nl Voxxed Days Luxembourg 22 June Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Voxxed Days is a series of tech events organised by local community groups and supported by the Voxxed team. These events see both internationally renowned and local speakers converge at a wide range of locations around the world. www.voxxeddays.com

Photo: ReMaTec

Congres Facebook Marketing 8 June Utrecht, the Netherlands Need an update on the latest social media trends? At this event, you will find over 25 speakers alongside masterclasses, presentations and workshops about commerce, service and branding via Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. www.congresfb.nl ReMaTec 18 – 20 June Amsterdam, the Netherlands ReMaTec Amsterdam is widely recognised as the leading business platform for remanufacturing specialists worldwide. With 260 exhibitors from 25 countries and visitors from 71 countries, ReMaTec Amsterdam is a truly international trade show. www.rematec.com

with corporate growth and dispute resolution mechanisms for IP infringement. www.iipla.org

Dutch Digital Day 30 June 2016 Amsterdam, the Netherlands Dutch Digital Day 2017 will revolve around the impact of digital superpowers. After this unmissable day, you will be fully fuelled, loaded and prepped for new feats. www.dutchdigitalday.com Photo: Jaarbeurs Utrecht

Finext Wake up! 22 June Ijmuiden, the Netherlands What will our world look like in 20 years? How should your company adapt to an ever-changing world? This event dives into the future and tries to answer the Photo: Jaarbeurs Utrecht

IIPLA Global IP Summit 19 – 20 June Brussels, Belgium The IIPLA Global IP Summit, organised by the International Intellectual Property Law Association Inc., will cover areas like building IP monetisation strategy to align Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  73


Discover Benelux  |  Attraction of the Month  |  Luxembourg

AT T R A C T I O N O F T H E M O N T H , L U X E M B O U R G

See, feel and smell the Middle Ages TEXT: SONJA IRANI  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU D’USELDANGE

If you are curious about what it was like to live in medieval Luxembourg, the free and remarkably original exhibitions at Château d’Useldange will do the trick.

guests. With information boards that can be palpated as well as audio presentations at every stop, the culture trail was developed under the patronage of UNESCO.

Two towers are what remain of the former fortress, which now hosts two fascinating exhibitions. One tells the history of the fortress itself, which roughly spans a time period from the ninth until the 19th century. The other displays all about daily life in the Middle Ages.

“The first stop on the trail is an underground crypt which hosts a touchable model of the fortress,” explains castle representative Tom Lehnert. “Examples of other stops include wayside crosses from all over Luxembourg, a display of the local birds, an exhibition about a local witch trial as well as a vegetable, fruit and herb garden. Here, our visitors can even smell the Middle Ages.”

The exhibition that the Castle of Useldange is most famous for is its so-called culture trail. Comprising 16 stops, this trail has been specifically designed to meet the needs of visually impaired 74  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

The highlight of the time-travelling activities at Château d’Useldange is the

weekend-long Medieval Festival at the beginning of June. In Useldange, nature is never far away either. The many local hiking and bicycle paths, as well as the river Attert, offer a great way to relax and recharge your batteries. www.useldeng.lu


Discover Benelux  |  Restaurant of the Month  |  Belgium & Luxembourg

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

A true taste of Italy With its verdant setting in the Belgian town of Flémalle, only 15 minutes from Liège Airport, Italian restaurant Pane e Vino specialises in the finer things in life. Get ready for an epicurean adventure. Whether coming from its own kitchen garden or the restaurant’s farm in Italy, the Pane e Vino philosophy is to use the finest fresh and seasonal produce. Daily arrivals from the farm ensure the restaurant offers the highest quality products with Mediterranean flavours. The weekly menus change according to the season, with current highlights including fresh asparagus for starters and seasonal desserts such as rhubarb crumble with banana and chocolate ganache. Neapolitan chef Mario Iadanza delights diners thanks to his traditional yet refined Italian cuisine with gourmet touches. A perennial

TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: PANE E VINO

favourite is his fresh pasta with truffles - which absolutely has to be tasted. If you want to be surprised, opt for the menu ‘Faccio Io’. Iadanza composes a personalised meal comprising a choice of antipasti, pasta or risotto, a main course and dessert for just 40 euros. The restaurant’s extensive wine list also changes according to the season, with sommelier Hayoun travelling to Italy to meet with winemakers several times a year. A number of Italian wines are offered exclusively, while group wine tastings are available upon request. Whether for a business lunch or family celebration, meals can be enjoyed in the warm environment of the elegant dining area or al fresco on the sun-drenched garden terrace. Pane e Vino boasts a large car park and also has a meeting room that can accommo-

date up to 25 people. For business meals, the restaurant offers various set menus. www.restopaneevino.be

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

Superb Italian fare in Luxembourg TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS  |  PHOTOS: PIACERE

Located in Howald, southern Luxembourg, Piacere offers top-notch Italian food with a French twist. According to Christian Mitchell, the restaurant’s manager, his aim is to surprise clients with the impressive array of daily specials. “We make everything on the spot with fresh, seasonal produce. The food is a blend of Italian culture, mixed with my French background. The truffles are as good in Piedmont as they are in south west France.” Mitchell brings a global vision to the restaurant, and gathers his ideas from international cities such as London, Dubai and New York, taking customers on a culinary journey. Mitchell recommends trying the taster menu with amuse-bouches, a starter, flambéed pasta or beef tartare, and a dessert. Piacere’s specialties include Italian dishes such as monkfish pasta, crab and grapefruit risotto, grilled lobster, and veal liver with sage butter. Starters

include a choice of scampi with melon and mint, or regina bruschetta, and the dessert menu features classic Italian fare such as threetier tiramisu and lemon tart. Mitchell personally selects the wines, and the selection comprises a wide range of French and Italian wines. Many of Piacere’s ingredients are imported directly from Italy. The restaurant seats 95 inside, plus 40 on its two terraces. It also offers an events room, for events of up to 200 people. This year, the restaurant will be a launching a happy hour on

Wednesday evenings, as well as live music and a barbecue on Thursdays. www.piacere.lu

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  75


Discover Benelux  |  Entertainment  |  Bart Peeters

76  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Entertainment  |  Bart Peeters

The ultimate entertainer Having shot to fame in the 1980s with pop group The Radios, showbiz polymath Bart Peeters went on to make his mark as a television presenter; fronting some of the biggest programmes in Flanders and the Netherlands, as well as enjoying a hugely successful solo career. Constantly evolving and always full of surprises, the musician has spent the past eight months touring with his one-man show Alleen & Zonder Plan solotoer, where the 57-year-old not only performs but also reminisces about life in the limelight. So, what is next for Belgium’s most beloved all-around entertainer? We caught up with Peeters between shows to find out. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTO: HUGO VAN BEVEREN

“I try to surprise people!” smiles Peeters, when asked for the secret to his longrunning success. The musician went from playing huge concert halls with his group Bart en zijn Ideale Mannen, to performing intimate solo gigs for his sold-out tour the Alleen & Zonder Plan solotoer. “People say ‘what’s Bart Peeters doing now?’. I’m completely on my own - it even looks like a standup show.” He may have only his guitar and two spoons on stage with him for the solo show, but this could not be starker in contrast to the world music he has become so famous for.

for many years. “I have lived here for years and years, so I’m part of the street view!” he grins, adding that he does still get stopped by fans from time to time. “In Belgium people recognise you, but they also understand that you’re just another normal loser too! They accept you.

The world is a village

A different direction

“I make my music in my own language, which means Flemish - but the strange thing is it’s not your typical Flemish music. I cooperate with incredibly good virtuoso musicians from all over the world. Belgium is a melting pot so it’s not too hard to find them,” he enthuses. “It’s the music that does the talking. The world is like a village and actually since the internet, the world is more like a street!”

From his first big break on iconic children’s television series Dag Sinterklaas in the 1990s to being a coach on hit music reality show The Voice van Vlaanderen (The Voice of Flanders) since season four, it is fair to say Peeters’ career in showbusiness has been varied.

Selfie esteem His music may be worldly, yet Peeters is fiercely proud of his Belgian roots. He was born in the city of Mortsel and has lived close to the nearby city of Antwerp

“The great thing is that before people asked for your signature but now people only ask for selfies. I think that’s more fun! Belgium is a very warm country and I feel very happy to be an entertainer and a performer in this country.”

“When I was 50 it was incredible, there were all these shows celebrating my career and so on and then I understood: ‘ok, so that’s the end’. Well, that’s what I thought,” he recalls. “But, after turning 50, I got these incredible opportunities that I could not refuse - in the

music world, in the television world, in the performance world. So, I thought ‘now I’m going to be very selective’. I can say ‘ok I like that’ or ‘I won’t do that’. That’s the great thing about having a career.” One of the new avenues to have been explored by Peeters in recent years is composing, and making the film score for the recent Belgian movie Allemaal Familie (All in the Family) was an ideal opportunity to showcase his skills.

New generations “I wrote the lyrics in English and I felt very happy doing that. I think there is a lot of work for me to do in the future that does not involve being in the spotlight. I invited people I discovered on The Voice to sing on the soundtrack. I felt like ‘hey, this is great. I don’t have to perform myself. I can give the new generations a chance’.” However, fans of Peeters need not fret, as the musician is not hanging up his hat just yet. “To be honest, I’m 57, I do lots of sport. I do not look like an old man but I am - and I feel like an old man! But when I see Mick Jagger jumping around I think ‘yeah, maybe I will go on...’” Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  77


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Events

Where fantasy becomes reality Step into a completely different world at Castlefest: a welcoming land immersing its inhabitants into a fantasy experience of togetherness and coherence alongside music, storytelling, dancing, and all things fairylike. Labelling Castlefest as a festival is not enough: it is a full fantasy experience, a period of four days celebrating all the good things in life with likeminded people. There is music, workshops, dancing, markets, fantasy entertainment, and more – all against a backdrop of beautifully dressed people and fantasy décor. The 13th edition will include the traditional opening concert, this year welcoming metal

folk sensation Heidevolk. Other performers include Russkaja, Rapalje, and The Dolmen. Like the bands, visitors come from all over the world. “Castlefest is not limited to nationality, age, or walk of life,” says marketing manager Franca de Vrind. “From accountants to artists, from ages zero to 100: Castlefest is for everyone.” The festival boasts countless food stands, with drinks poured in pottery cups, and markets where visitors can buy fantasy clothing, jewellery, or even get dreads or a tattoo. A highlight is the Wickerman burning, when all the festival joins around the well-known wicker statue to behold its burning. Many lay something in before the fire starts, a ritual tra-

Photo: Marielle de Vries

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK

ditionally reflecting closure, remembrance or celebration of a personal chapter. “People do that for very diverse, emotional reasons. The energy that releases during the burning is amazing. It is hard to describe.” In a world of increasing polarisation and individualisation, Castlefest is the loving backlash that stands for respect and acceptance. “Our visitor numbers increase yearly,” De Vrind concludes. “That is no coincidence – Castlefest will always be a place where you can totally be yourself.” Castlefest takes place from 3 to 6 August. www.castlefest.nl

Photo: Coen Halmans

Photo: Rezien

Island blues Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, Texelblues Festival combines that carefree island feeling with three days of the best blues, turning the picturesque town of Den Burg into the blues capital of the Netherlands. Texelblues Festival has become a staple of blues music. Held across 14 local cafés, it sees around 30 artists coming from every corner of the world to play in the famously hospitable and convivial island of Texel. “Visitors really come for the music, yet the relaxed and friendly atmosphere certainly has contributed to the fact that we can celebrate our 30th anniversary this year,” says co-organiser Fred Winkel. This year’s line-up lists blues magicians such as Eric Gales Band, Laurence Jones and Errol Linton. Unique in 2017 is the Young Texelblues Challenge (YTC), a contest providing a stage for the artists of tomorrow. “Texelblues Festival has always greatly focused on young bluestalent,” Winkel continues. “It is something you see in the industry as well: where blues used 78  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: GERARD TIMMERMAN

to revolve around the classics, nowadays there are so many great new artists contributing to a revival of the genre.” Perhaps one of the best things about Texelblues is its location. The festival is held on the Wadden Island of Texel, praised for its beautiful nature and tranquility, yet at the same time being acclaimed for its liveliness and friendly inhabitants. It is not surprising the island was listed in Lonely Planet’s top ten list of places to visit in Europe in 2016. The biggest advantage? Texelblues ‘forces’ its guests to stay on the island overnight: the last ferry leaves before the festival is over.

Texelblues Festival takes place from 13 to 15 October www.texelblues.nl

Photo: Duncan Whyte


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Events

Ernie Watts.

Marjorie Barnes.

G O U V Y J A Z Z & B L U E S F E S T I VA L C E L E B R AT E S 3 8 T H E D I T I O N

Gouvy is really groovy TEXT & PHOTOS: GOUVY JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL

Gouvy Jazz & Blues Festival has been astonishing its attendees since 1978, and from 4 - 6 August the 38th edition will take place. A pleasure for both the ears and the eyes, this event is a jazz and blues paradise. In the words of J. Griffin: ‘Gouvy is really groovy!’ Held in Belgium, on the northern border of Luxembourg, this long-running festival has avoided the pitfalls of routine or the wear and tear of time by combining tranquility and high-quality music. Accessible to all, the festival offers two days of jazz on Friday and Saturday, followed by blues and rock on Sunday. The same recipe has been used for many years, and the festival’s numerous devotees know why ‘Gouvy is groovy!’ Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, festival-goers ‘follow the smell of hazelnuts’ to arrive at Madelonne Farm. “For

this 38th edition, we have used our experience to offer a line-up worthy of the world’s largest ‘small’ festivals. All our energy is put in to ensuring our musical paradise makes you dream!” enthuse the organisers. “Our only goal is to make you happy. This is highlighted by our policy of free camping, free parking and free toilets, not to

mention our dedication to providing a huge and truly unforgettable spectacle.” Come and discover the beautiful Ardennes countryside and delight in the music at the 38th edition of Gouvy Jazz & Blues Festival. “Here, with us, off the beaten track in the wooded park of Madelonne Farm in Sterpigny/Gouvy, you will be transported far away!”

GOUVY

38

e

Jazz & Blues Festival

4,5 & 6 aout 2017

+32 (0)80/51.77.69 madelonne.gouvy.eu

For more information please telephone (00 32) 80 51 77 69 or (00 32) 494 79 46 32 Further details can be found on the website madelonne.gouvy.eu

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  79


Rock Werchter 2016. Photo: Rock Werchter, Visit Flanders

Out & About It is June and festival season is at its highpoint. From architecture festivals to the juiciest dance parties, to everything for the alternative aficionado – in June it is festival o’ clock. TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK

Doorwerth Kasteel Poortgebouw

80  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Calendar

Photo: © Tim Laman, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Grand title winner

Fête de la Musique 17-21 June Luxembourg City, Luxembourg The name gives it away: the Fête de la Musique is a celebration of music and other good things in life. People from all over the country gather for this free festival. www.fetedelamusique.lu

Photo: Zee-eterij De Viskêête

Zee-eeterij De Viskêête Month of June Yerseke, the Netherlands This charming restaurant and fish counter is an absolute dream for seafood lovers, serving everything from eel to fresh salads, and from beautiful oysters to dorado or lobsters alongside the most stunning views over the waters of Nationaal Park De Oosterschelde. www.pietvanoost.nl Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  81


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Best Kept Secret. Photo: Chris Stessens

Chef Thomas Month of June Zandvoort, the Netherlands If you are visiting Zandvoort, you cannot miss a visit to Chef Thomas. The restaurant serves homemade and mostly organic Caribbean and international food in a warm Caribbean atmosphere. www.chefthomascafe.nl

Best Kept Secret 16 – 18 June Hilvarenbeek, the Netherlands Best Kept Secret certainly does justice to its name: the three-day festival is an absolute gem. This year’s line-up lists world-class acts such as Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Agnes Obel. www.bestkeptsecret.nl

The Day of Architecture 16 – 18 June Various locations in the Netherlands Architecture lovers unite! During this weekend, the entire country will put the spotlight on the importance of architecture. Many villages and cities offer a programme with lectures, debates, tours, exhibitions and excursions. www.dagvandearchitectuur.nl 82  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Chef Thomas.

Carlton Beach Hotel.


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Calendar

Apollo Hotel.

Carlton Beach Hotel Month of June Scheveningen, the Netherlands This luxury four-star hotel is a fun and friendly place to relax and enjoy the beauty of its natural surroundings. The rooms offer breathtaking views of the North Sea. www.carlton.nl/en/beach-hotel-scheveningen

Parkpop 25 June The Hague, the Netherlands When you say Dutch pop music, you think The Hague. This city has carried the name of National City of Pop for quite a while. It is no wonder that Parkpop belongs to the biggest free festivals in Europe. www.parkpop.nl

3 Oever Festival _ Ensemble BRASS-IT!

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  83


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Calendar

Hofje Zonder Zorgen.

Geldersch Landschap & Kasteelen 25 June Gelderland, the Netherlands Curious about the early inhabitants of Castle Doorwerth? Every last Sunday of the month you are welcomed at ‘Toevallige Ontmoetingen’ (Coincidental Meetings), where you can meet people such as baroness Charlotte Sophie Bentinck, or one of the housemaids. They would love to tell you their story. www.glk.nl/castles

Rock Werchter 29 June – 2 July Werchter, Belgium The festival of all Belgian festivals, Rock Werchter traditionally secures the biggest names of the moment alongside the top acts of tomorrow. This year promises four days of great acts such as Kings of Leon, James Blake, Dua Lipa and Linkin Park. www.rockwerchter.be

Summer Festival 1 – 2 July Antwerp, Belgium The best way to kick off July? Immersing yourself in two days of music, dancing, and sunshine. In other words: head to Summer Festival in Antwerp. www.summerfestival.be 84  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Hotel Almenum Month of June Harlingen, the Netherlands In the delightful old town centre of Harlingen, you will find Hotel Almenum, offering cosy rooms in a beautifully renovated 17th century warehouse. Along with the tranquil courtyard, Almenum provides the perfect backdrop for your holiday in Friesland. www.hotelalmenum.nl

Hofje Zonder Zorgen Month of June Haarlem, the Netherlands Situated right at the heart of the historic city centre of Haarlem, in a beautiful 15th century building, Hofje Zonder Zorgen serves carefully selected organic products. Think delicious coffee and tea, but also homemade pies, lunch and high tea. www.hofjezonderzorgen.nl

Naturalis 24 June – 10 September Leiden, the Netherlands Unique in the Netherlands: enjoy the world’s best nature photography at Leiden’s Naturalis Museum of Natural History. The exhibition Wildlife Photography of the Year features the collection of 100 exceptional images. www.naturalis.nl

3 Oever Festival Third weekend of September Gelderse Poort, the Netherlands Set at the ‘The Gate of Gelderland’, the 3 Oever Festival celebrates the region for both its natural and cultural value. Enjoy a bike tour or walk along the shore, or enjoy the music, theatre, and good food. www.3oeverfestival.nl

Parkpop. Photo: Den Haag Marketing

Day of Architecture 2015, Rotterdam Central Station. Photo: Theo van Pinxteren


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns

STATES OF AR T

Ostend’s famous sons

TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK PHOTO: COURTESY OF MU.ZEE, OSTEND

Talk to someone about Ostend, and after the inevitable chatter about it being the ‘queen of the beach resorts’ and the ‘king of seafood’, conversation will soon turn to James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert, the two sons of Ostend. Both revered in this part of the world, they are now brought together in one exhibition under the same roof at Mu.ZEE, Ostend. At first glance it seems a rather bizarre decision. Ensor, famed for his bright, bold, mask-laden paintings seems completely oppositional to the brooding, self-contained work of the introverted Spilliaert. Born 20 years apart, they seem to share little in the way of art, other than a mutual respect. It seems like an exhibition that should not work. But Mu.ZEE have approached it from another angle. Entering the gallery, two giant photographic portraits of the artists confront you, and it is clear that the focus is on the role Ostend itself played in the lives and careers of these two men. In an almost identical pose, Ensor and Spilliaert stand upon the same balcony of Os-

Photo: Steven Decroos

tend’s casino, overlooking what makes Ostend what it is: the sea. That is where inspiration lay for both men early on. James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert: Two Masters of Ostend unearths a shared fascination with the sea; with its rhythm, the ever changing light and the people who worked upon it. For all the great work in this exhibition, and for the great curation of the show, it is hard to look past Spilliaert’s seascapes stealing the show. Washy

BEER OF THE MONTH

layers of watercolour, gouache and ink coalesce into enigmatic depictions that are utterly arresting. In the words of the Mu.ZEE director, they wanted to “bring the city of Ostend into the museum”. They have done that and then some. Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.

TEXT AND PHOTO: STUART FORSTER

Haagsche Broeder Prior This dark brown beer is brewed at the Priory of Saint John in the centre of The Hague, just a couple of minutes away from the Noordeinde Palace. Far from being a true legacy of medieval brewing traditions, it is the product of a business that was established as recently as 2014. Three years on from the first bottle of the Klosterbrouwerij Haagsche Broeder’s beer being presented to The Hague’s mayor, Prior is winning a reputation as a well-crafted ale. Brewers Kees Verbogt and Jelger Moggree work with monks based in The Hague’s Hofkwartier to produce this, plus a handful of other brews. Prior is rich in character. Sold in 75-centilitre bottles it is, like a good wine, a drink to sip and savour. It is not just the colour of this beer that

is reminiscent of chocolate with a high cocoa content — hints of that come through in the flavour too. The aroma is dominated by overtones of smoked wood, an element that also influences the beer’s taste. At first the smokiness dominates, but then the flavour rounds out to give way to hints of forest fruit and chocolate. It is one of those beers that is best shared, to prompt discussion about flavour and character. It is multifaceted, meaning one person can be getting fruity hoppiness while another is being hit by tanginess. Is there a smidgeon of coffee there too? There is a great deal going on in this punchy brew. Big flavours and Prior’s provenance mean that anyone who enjoys a powerful dark beer is likely to feel blessed when getting hold of a bottle.

Brewer: Kloosterbrouwerij Haagsche Broeder Strength: 8.5 per cent Stuart Forster was twice named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 and 2016 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

Issue 42  |  June 2017  |  85


Discover Benelux | Music | Benelux Beats

B E N E L U X B E AT S

Musically discovering… Drive Like Maria TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTO: PETER VAN HAL

Drive Like Maria have made a welcome comeback. The Belgian-Dutch formation debuted in 2009 with Elmwood, only to further their success with eponymous album Drive Like Maria. Now, with their new album Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, the Benelux band are officially back on track. Discover Benelux spoke to guitarist Nitzan Hoffmann. Creator, Preserver, Destroyer is the first album since 2012. What have you been up to? A lot! Following the release of Drive Like Maria, we toured the entire year. After that, we built our own studio in Italy and ended up having bookings from many bands wanting to record there. After a while – also because we collaborated on so many musical projects – we decided it was time for us to make music again. How did the album come together? The release was preceded by the separate EPs Creator, and a few months later 86  |  Issue 42  |  June 2017

Preserver. Many songs were already released beforehand. It was also the first time that all three band members (including Bjorn Awouters on vocals/ guitar and Bram van den Berg on drums) wrote songs together. On stage, we are joined by our fabulous bass player Maarten, by the way. How does the new album differ from previous works? It is more grown-up and has quite a different sound to it. With Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, we dared to show the world a different side to us, which resulted in organic, natural songs. Do you have a main source of inspiration? That is such a hard question - we get our inspiration from everything. Songs are often just magically born through jamming together. I recently read an old interview with Bill Withers, who said something really recognisable: songs just ‘happen’, there is no tactic to it.

What has been your most recent musical discovery? I recently saw Nic Cester, the frontman of Jet, in concert in Australia – it was great! On stage or in the studio: what do you prefer? I can totally lose myself in both, yet at the same time can be totally done with either one. At a certain point, touring becomes something so natural, but I always reach a point where I have had enough and want to dive into that studio again. What does the future hold? Touring! And to keep focusing on making new music. www.drivelikemaria.com NITZAN’S RECORD COLLECTION: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here Black Mountain - In the Future My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges Minnie Riperton - Come to My Garden


Discover Benelux, Issue 42, June 2017  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

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