Discover Benelux, Issue 62, February 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents FEBRUARY 2019





Robert de Hoog Dutch actor Robert de Hoog has been known on the international acting scene for some time now, and was even nominated for an International Emmy Award when he was just 20 years old. Now aged 30, the Leiderdorp-born actor continues to be one of the country’s most sought after stars, both on stage and screen. We caught up with him to find out more about his part in the hugely successful television crime drama series Mocro Mafia.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is an industry of increasing importance. To find out more, we speak to some of the Flemish companies who are experts in the field.



Creating Brand Experiences: Top Belgian Creative, Digital and UX Agencies What is the secret to creating a memorable brand experience for customers? We delve into the world of branding with profiles on our pick of Belgium’s top creative, digital and UX agencies.


Master Architects: Designing the Future Architects from the Benelux continue to make their mark on a global scale with an innovative approach to building. We hone in on some of Belgium and the Netherlands’ top architectural agencies.



Castles in the Benelux The Benelux is home to some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes. We present a selection of the region’s captivating castles.



Flemish Additive Manufacturing: Create Reality From Your Imagination


Company profiles, regulars and more We look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.


2019 Carnival Guide Banish those winter blues and get ready for carnival season with our guide to some of the Benelux region’s finest fiestas.

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs 88 Out & About  |  98 Columns

The Ultimate Destination: Netherlands Tourism and Culture Guide We travelled high and low to present our selection of the must-visit regions in the Netherlands in 2019, not to mention a guide to some of the country’s most unmissable art and culture spots.

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 62, February 2019 Published 11.2018 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee

Frank van Lieshout Karin Venema Koen Guiking Lorenza Bacino Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Michiel Stol Myriam Dijck Ndéla Faye Paola Westbeek Peter Stewart Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo © Janey van Ierland Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster

Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

Contributors Eddi Fiegel Ella Put Eva Menger

Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier

Welcome to another jam-packed edition of Discover Benelux. This month, you can enjoy an array of special guides profiling the best this region has to offer expect everything from medieval castles to state-of-the-art 3D printing and worldclass architecture. We also have a huge tourism special, showcasing some of the Netherlands’ must-visit regions. Whether you are looking for a lively city break, relaxation in the countryside or seaside adventures, you are bound to find your perfect holiday destination. As winter continues, we also bring you plenty of events to provide refuge from the cold in this month’s ‘out and about’ calendar. Take your pick from a range of upcoming exhibitions, gigs and festivals on page 88. This month also features an extended culture section, profiling some of the region’s most exciting museums and historical hotspots. Continuing the cultural theme, our February cover star is Dutch actor Robert de Hoog, who shot to fame ten years ago in the hard-hitting Dutch film Skin, about a teenager who gets involved with a group of neo-Nazi skinheads. De Hoog was nominated for an International Emmy Award for his role in the film, and has also worked with with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Jude Law, not to mention numerous collaborations with theatre genius Ivo van Hove. I caught up with the Leiderdorp-born actor to find out more about his recent part in the hugely successful television crime drama series Mocro Mafia, and he told me all about his admirable plans to help undiscovered talent engage more with the arts. Read the interview on page 62. Enjoy the issue.

Anna Villeleger, Editor 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.

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Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Beautiful basics Spring might not be upon us yet, but that does not mean we cannot start to wear spring colours. On the contrary, research has shown that wearing bright colours can lighten up our moods in an instant. Pair with a timeless denim piece and you are good to go for the remaining days of the winter. TEXT: ELLA PUT  |  PRESS PHOTOS

High waist Affordable, yet fashionable: that is what this look is all about. Made from light stretch material, these jeans have a comfortable fit, while the high-waist provides a flattering look. Jeans €40

Eye-catchers Honouring the yellow brick road more so than Dorothy’s red shoes, these eye-catchers are the perfect finishing touch to an all-denim look. Comfortable yet chic, these shoes will be an essential part of your day-to-night look. (On sale) €20

Beautiful brown Just like a good pair of jeans, a classic handbag can go with any look. Now that spring is almost upon us, why not go for a lighter tone? Bag €20 6  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

Forever jeans Investing in a good pair of jeans is always a good idea and WE Fashion offers denim for every shape and size. How good is that feeling when you finally find the perfect pair? Jeans €40

Casual chic For the ultimate casual chic look, what better way than to combine denim with a blazer? This wonderful yellow colour will lighten up the darker blue colours and give you that instant fresh feeling. Blazer €40

Wonderful wrapping This beautiful Fabienne Chapot scarf is made of soft materials that will keep you warm, and with its beautiful pattern, it will also give your outfit an elegant twist. Scarf €60 Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


Time to relax Water, fresh air, fire…When in need of some relaxation, mother nature’s bare essentials are always a reliable way to go. These gorgeous items will help you catch your breath in style this month, whether you do it fully exposed to the elements or within the warm walls of your own home. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


1. Cold shower From thermae spas to hammams, exposing your body to different temperatures is the foundation of wellness. With this minimalist shower in your back garden, you can cool down after a sauna or swim while the wind blows through your hair. Not a fan of icy experiences? With its mixing tap, you can change the cold cascade into a steaming shower in no time. €2,495



3. Magic lamp

2. Rock and loll

If we had three wishes, we would definitely make this elegant perfume dispenser one of them. Via an app on your smartphone, you can regulate how often this stylish lamp expels its radiant magic, allowing your home to smell regal for more than just 1,001 nights. €99

This minimalist chair combines the best of both sunbathing at the beach and cocooning in front of the fireplace. While gently rocking back and forth, you can dream away to exotic islands, feeling the options of soft leather or linen caressing your skin while you rest. From €2,075

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Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


4. Tub to go With the Dutchtub you can bathe anywhere, anytime. Lift it up, put it down where you want and fill it up with cold water. The chipper bowl starts heating itself once you ignite the attached fire pit and keeps the water hot and circulating. The tub even comes with a wok, just in case you want to upgrade your plunge by preparing some fresh snacks to enjoy while you soak. €5,495


5. Warm window Warm your body and soul this winter with this elegant, round gas stove. Hidden inside your wall, it can heat up two rooms at the same time. Let your frostbitten toes thaw out while you enjoy some well-deserved beauty sleep. Price on request

6. Heart warming It is fuzzy, warm and a treat for the eyes. This goofy little elephant carries a heart of cherrystones inside him that can be heated in the oven or the microwave.€22


Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  9

Pilipili Agency.


Top Belgian creative, digital and UX agencies What is the secret to creating a memorable brand experience for customers? We delve into the world of branding with profiles on our pick of Belgium’s top creative, digital and UX agencies.

Pilipili Agency.

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Discover Benelux  |  Creating Brand Experiences  |  Top Belgian Creative, Digital and UX Agencies

Making the brand Belgium has a long tradition of creativity and innovation. Across the country, its vibrant cities are becoming hubs for the branding sector, even more so thanks to the digital evolution of recent years. An effective brand strategy is at the core of business growth. Your brand image captures the heart of your business, summarising what you do and why you are significant. In the ever-advancing age of digitised media, digital content is becoming an increasingly important part of that strategy. However, there are so many tasks involved it can be heard to know where to begin.


From CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to logo design, via shop window dressing and digital communication, there are an array of expert creative and digital agencies operating out of Belgium that can help your business create the ultimate brand experience. Read on for our comprehensive guide and decide how you will ensure your brand becomes the best it can be.

Our pick of Belgium’s top creative, digital and UX agencies: Pilipili Agency With clients ranging from local artisans to huge international names, Pilipili Agency in Namur does branding with a difference. Small but powerful, just like the chilli pepper that embodies its company logo, Pilipili offers personalised expertise in every aspect of branding, from the logo and packaging, to digital communication and much more - all at an affordable price. Read more on page 12 Hilarious.





‘Be realistic; ask the impossible’ is the motto of Brussels-based agency Hilarious, experts in everything ranging from branding, digital platforms and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to experiential campaigns, web development, data collection and brand activation. Read more on page 14

With clients ranging from global luxury brands to small independent boutiques, CreAgency are masters of visual and graphic communication. Based in Waterloo, the expert team specialise in everything from shop window dressing and promotional displays to conference stands and office remodelling. Read more on page 16



Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  11

Managing director, Pierre Janssens.


Spicing up brands across the world TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: PILIPILI

With clients ranging from local artisans to huge international names, Pilipili Agency in Namur does branding with a difference. Small but powerful, just like the chilli pepper that embodies its company logo, Pilipili offers personalised expertise in every aspect of branding, from the logo and packaging, to digital communication and much more - all at an affordable price. It would be easy to reel off a long list of impressive, big name clients who have made the most of Pilipili’s skilfulness in branding, but as managing director Pierre Janssens explains, that is just not what the company is about. 12  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

“We have as much love for small, local brands as we do for the big names we work with,” he smiles. “Whether you are an up-and-coming artisan or a renowned multinational, you will get the same quality service.”

Simple yet impactful

grown-up character to use as their mascot,” recalls Pierre Janssens. Pilipili created a new design for Kidibul’s instantly recognisable crocodile mascot, complete with a fresh new look for the beverage’s packaging. Simple yet impactful, the finished design is a great example of a strong brand identity created by Pilipili.

Pierre Janssens and his passionate team offer a comprehensive approach, from initial ideas and concept through to production. Clients range from pharmaceutical brands to cleaning products, not to mention iconic names in food and drink such as Leonidas luxury chocolates and the well-loved children’s soft drink Kidibul. “They came to us looking for a new, more

Pilipili’s clients include Belgian soft drink brand, Kidibul.

Discover Benelux  |  Creating Brand Experiences  |  Top Belgian Creative, Digital and UX Agencies

Different spice levels The same could be said for Pilipili’s own distinctive chilli pepper logo. “We are a small team, but we’re going to spice up your project,” grins the managing director. The simple yet stylish design also reflects Pilipili’s versatility. “We adapt to our clients,” adds Pierre Janssens. “We can come up with crazy ideas, or more serious ones. Like chilli peppers, we can be strong or mild, and offer a mixture of different spice levels.”

Versatile Pilipili pride themselves on offering their clients plenty of choice. Take packaging, for example: where some agencies may offer variations of a similar design, the team at Pilipili always offer a range of completely different options. “We recently won a contract with an international client to whom we gave six completely different options some more classic, some more fun, some more ‘design’…They had difficulty choosing just one as they loved them all!”

Affordable Aside from their creativity and flexibility, the team at Pilipili also stands out from

the crowd thanks to their diminutive size. “Being a small team allows us to be far more reactive than larger firms. Part of our success comes from not having the fixed costs of being a large structure. It means prices can remain affordable for our clients, giving them a high-quality service for better value. For example, we don’t charge ‘per hour’ and it is common for us to work all night for our clients. We’re very flexible.”

An extensive creative network Adapting to the needs of the client is key at Pilipili, and if a larger team is required, they can count on their extensive network of talented freelancers from across Europe. “We work with a lot of talented local designers from our area. It’s great to make use of all the talent in the region,” smiles Pierre Janssens. Designers from further afield work from home, while others come to the company’s headquarters in Namur to work. “We moved here two years ago,” says Pierre Janssens, of he and his team’s stylish ‘industrial chic’ work environment. “The last thing we wanted was an austere looking office, we wanted somewhere where everyone would feel at ease. This is much more conducive to creativity.”

Digital communication In addition to their expertise in the fields of branding and packaging, Pilipili can help with communicating brands via social networks and the internet. Once again, they have an honest, flexible and affordable approach. “Many large companies charge a great deal to design a website, but a functional and attractive website doesn’t need to cost a fortune,” points out Pierre Janssens.

Lasting relationships “We share website management with our clients, meaning they have access and can modify it themselves if they want to. However, if they find that difficult, we can do it for them. If it’s just a small change, we won’t even charge for doing it. Some people might say, ‘why don’t you make the client pay?’: but to us, this way is much more honest - and logical. It leads to long lasting relationships with our clients, because they know they can trust us.” To find out more about Pilipili, visit:

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  13

‘Be realistic – ask the impossible’, says a digital agency with a difference TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: HILARIOUS

‘Hilarious’ might not seem like the most obvious name for a branding and marketing agency. Particularly one whose clients include global brands such as L’Oréal, Toyota and Belgium’s telecom giant Proximus, but for founding partner and digital manager Audry Van Essche, the name is an essential part of the company’s ethos. “We want our clients to enjoy working with us and for us to enjoy working with them,” he explains. “That means being serious about our work but also doing things with a smile on your face, in a way 14  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

which is fun for everyone. That was the thinking behind our name.” The Brussels-based company’s motto: ‘be realistic; ask the impossible’ similarly reflects their quirky, playful humour – something which they apply to projects from branding, digital platforms and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to experiential campaigns, web development, data collection and brand activation. Audry, who has over 20 years’ experience in branding and marketing, founded the agency in 2011 with two

colleagues: Jérôme Canon – a highly experienced front-end developer and Ludovic Pahaut – a top graphic designer. The three had worked together previously at branding and media agency Wanabe in Waterloo and when Wanabe closed, they decided to join forces and start their own agency. Coming from different but complementary disciplines, they felt they had the perfect mix of skills to respond to a wide variety of briefs, from CRM for L’Oréal, branding for insurance company Touring

Discover Benelux  |  Creating Brand Experiences  |  Top Belgian Creative, Digital and UX Agencies

Assurance and digital strategy for Proximus, to nationwide consumer competitions.

within weeks of launching, it seemed like half of Belgium had signed up.

‘Do you know your Oasis from your Michael Jackson or your Eden Hazard from your Kevin de Bruyne?’

In contrast to the often slightly selfimportant visions of many branding and media agencies, Hilarious stresses that they do not have a particular vision. Our vision is: ‘no vision; no limits’, says Audry, explaining that he does not want the agency to be limited by fixed ideas or rigid parameters.

For car giant Toyota, Hilarious created a fun DIY musical quiz experience which people could enjoy either at Toyota car dealerships or online. Participants were asked to enter their date of birth and, depending on their age, they would then hear the sounds of Michael Jackson, Oasis or whichever artist happened to be topping the charts when they were teenagers. They were then asked a series of questions about the artist and the songs, and the experience turned out to be a massive hit with the public.

‘No vision; no limits’

“We live in a high velocity, fast moving world,” he continues. “So we believe in flexibility and adaptability. We need to respond to briefs in a way which is in step with the world around us. The public are very sophisticated in the way they consume media campaigns and expect more and more every day. That’s why we need to bring them experiences which are new and original and grab people’s

attention with high-impact campaigns and personalised rewards. We like to think that we, as creators of experiences, are part of the public and ask ourselves what we would like as customers.” So has Hilarious remained as fun for its founders as they had hoped? “Seven years since launching, we are the parents of a wonderful company which has grown hugely in terms of the number of clients, many of whom have been with us since the start,” says Audry. “We have a young, smart and loyal team, who share our values, and there’s a relaxed atmosphere in our offices. We work hard, but we make it fun too. Both for us and for our clients.” Web: Facebook:

The idea behind the quiz had come from an article in The Times on a study showing that the music people connect with the most is generally the music of their adolescence or youth. Music and sports are also the main themes in their digital strategy for Proximus. In an interactive contest launched in January 2019, people have the chance to win tickets to Belgian dance music festival Tomorrowland Winter, by playing a game where they have to spot references to world famous DJs. The agency also created several other innovative campaigns for Proximus, aimed at football fans. In one competition, the prizes were highly sought-after tickets to the UEFA Champions League whilst in another, fans of top Belgian football teams like RSC Anderlecht had to vote weekly for the Player of The Month on an interactive platform with a chance of winning a tantalising range of prizes and experiences. Another football orientated campaign which scored top goals was for Belgian hypermarket chain Cora. This time, the public had to predict winners during the 2018 World Cup – an idea which clearly captured the public’s imagination, as Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  15

Think big and make it happen TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: CREAGENCY

With clients ranging from global luxury brands to small independent boutiques, CreAgency is a master of visual and graphic communication. Based in Waterloo, the expert team specialise in everything from shop window dressing and promotional displays to conference stands and office remodelling. CreAgency was founded in 2011 by Stéphane Trenchant, a former owner of ready-to-wear boutiques with a passion for design. Before launching CreAgency, Trenchant trained in visual 16  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

communication and large-format printing, and worked as a graphic designer and project manager in a company specialising in display design for perfumes and watches. Initially, CreAgency specialised in creating displays for the watch industry, with brands such as Casio, Tommy Hilfiger, Daniel Wellington, Bell & Ross, Victorinox and Armani among its list of clients.

A ten-year partnership with Pierre Marcolini One of CreAgency’s longest running collaborations is with the famous Belgian

chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. The agency has been in charge of decorating all his boutiques in Belgium and internationally for ten years now. Every six wee ks, CreAgency create completely customised window displays and boutique decor for Pierre Marcolini shops in Brussels, Paris, Monaco and London. “They tell us what they want and give us a budget, then we do everything else,” explains Trenchant. “Whatever idea they have, we will always make it happen.”

Anything is possible “When we start to imagine a campaign,

Discover Benelux  |  Creating Brand Experiences  |  Top Belgian Creative, Digital and UX Agencies

we think about materials and printing,” he continues. However ambitious the client’s ideas may be, Trenchant and his team will search high and low to find the right elements and ensure a perfect realisation. “There is no such thing as an impossible idea, as we will always find solutions,” he grins.

Made ‘in house’ CreAgency internally produces everything related to digital printing of flexible materials at its large workshop. The company also works with a large network of artisans and specialised technicians such as glassmakers, carpenters and ironworkers. CreAgency install all displays in stores themselves, principally in Belgium and Luxembourg, although they also work in France, England and the Netherlands on request.

Printing experts Much more than just an agency, CreAgency is also a large digital print shop. Open to all types of customers, as a printing firm they can offer many key solutions such as printing on tarpaulins, panels and adhesive film, as well as the construction of LED boxes.

Spectacular displays CreAgency’s partnership with Pierre Marcolini reflects their most spectacular work, with each new campaign seeing a requested theme being translated into an impressive, full-blown display complete

with imaginative accessories. Currently gracing all Pierre Marcolini boutique windows is a romantic Valentine’s Day display made by the agency, with giant 3D letters spelling out ‘LOVE’. “It looks very pretty,” smiles Trenchant.

A range of different clients The CreAgency team work with many more high-end international brands, such as Jo Malone fragrances and Swarovski, not to mention big Belgian names including leather handbag designer Clio Goldbrenner. As well as working with luxury brands, CreAgency boasts a long client list which also includes well-known high street retailers such as Yves Rocher, Hairdis and Planet Parfum.

Independent boutiques The agency also works with smaller retailers, including local artisans and independent boutiques. This could be someone with one or two shops who wants a more professional look for their stores. “We can help them to be viewed in a different way by their clients,” explains Trenchant. “By providing them with communication advice, bringing fresh ideas, and using our big brand experiences, we’ll make it happen for them.” Whatever size or type of company you have, CreAgency will make sure you are seen. To find out more, visit:

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  17

Haverwerf Mechelen. Photo: © Milo Profi


Designing the future Throughout Europe and internationally, architects from the Benelux continue to make their mark with a unique and innovative approach to design and construction. We hone in on some of the finest architectural agencies in Flanders and the Netherlands, who are shaping our futures for the better. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS AND NBTC HOLLAND MARKETING

Skyline Rotterdam.

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Discover Benelux  |  Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

The Port House. Photo: ©Visit Antwerp

Cutting-edge design in Flanders From the decadent Art Nouveau creations of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde to the stunning skyscrapers and avantgarde urban developments of today, Belgian architecture has certainly earned its place at the forefront of cutting-edge design.

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, there is wonder on every corner. One of the latter’s finest architectural gems is the Port House, designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher. This modern master-

City Pavilion Ghent.

piece has confirmed the city’s high ranking status on the architectural world map, and highlights the Flanders region’s position as a hub for masterful design.

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 Read our guide to the Flanders region’s finest master architects from page 22.

STAM museum - Ghent. Photo: © Phile Deprez

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  19

Discover Benelux  |  Master Architects  |  Designing the Future Canal Houses Amsterdam. Photo: Koen Smilde

Dutch architecture: renowned across the globe From Gerrit Rietveld to Rem Koolhaas, some of the world’s most celebrated architects hail from the Netherlands.

A strong architectural legacy Pay a visit to any Dutch city and the country’s strong architectural legacy will immediately become apparent. From the capital city, whose canal houses are famous the world over, to avant-garde destinations such as Rotterdam, the architectural highlights are endless. In the latter, you will find architectural gems including OMA Timmerhuis and the Erasmus bridge.

View of the Erasmus bridge, Rotterdam.

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Meanwhile, in Utrecht, do not miss Rietveld Schröder House, a 20th-century architectural treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site. Designed by Rietveld, 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.

The Royal Institute of Dutch Architects The Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA) unites almost 1,200 architectural firms. It is the sole professional association for Dutch architects and stimulates modern, creative entrepreneurship. We

spoke to Fred Schoorl, director of the BNA, who told us why Dutch architecture enjoys a 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,” he explains. “Dutch architecture has always created a better quality of life, and I think that is something we can be proud of.” For more information, visit: and Read our guide to the finest master architects in the Netherlands from page 34.

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future


Operating from the Flemish town of Temse near Antwerp, SASS Architects supports its creative designs with efficient project management, solid architecture and an aesthetic of clean lines and sustainable solutions in sync with natural surroundings. “The kind of modern architecture we believe in is about flexibility, timelessness and, most of all, simplicity,” says SASS founder and managing director Sam Van Mele. “Keeping it simple is our mantra.” Founded in 2015, SASS have hit the ground running with a range of successful commissions for private homes, 22  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

town planning developments, apartment buildings and commercial property. In three years, Sam’s one-man band has grown into a mid-sized firm employing four freelance architects, an interior architect, a dedicated project manager and a commercial manager. “But we still operate more like a hub for creative minds than as a traditional architectural firm,” Sam smiles. “For every new commission, we like to challenge each other to come up with new perspectives and ideas. It’s what we have always done since we’ve known each other as students at the Luca School of Arts in Ghent, and in my mind it’s the only way that we can continue to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.”

Commercial property While high-end private builds still take up a sizeable proportion of their portfolio, SASS have also started to make a name for themselves in town planning architecture, residential apartment buildings, offices and other commercial real estate. “We have just finished our design for a large new multi-purpose development with a hotel, offices, restaurants and retail in Lokeren, which we are really proud of. It’s the kind of project we relish, because it’s about making creative use of resources and location to design a building which can be used for different purposes 24/7, where different uses of the building reinforce each other. In ad-

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

dition, you also need to ensure that the building can be modified relatively easily to fit any other purpose in the future. Designing modern commercial real estate is about flexibility, creating something which is contemporary yet timeless, as well as highly efficient.” Another area where SASS use their creativity to create efficient layouts is town planning. What they tend to do is to develop a plan for a new neighbourhood or a cluster of homes before calling in the surveyor. “Rather than building in traditional units, we use creative clustering to build more homes on the same plot of land as well as create more green space for residents to enjoy,” Sam explains. “It’s all about making efficient use of the available space.”

afford not only to build the house, but also make it into a home – in other words, that they have enough budget for the construction as well as the finishings.” What is more, for a house to look stylish, fashionable and at the same time inviting and homely, you do not necessarily need a surplus of space, according to Sam. “Very large mansions are not really in keeping with modern times any longer. And making creative use of layout, heights and the amount of light you let in, means you can design a 2,000-square-foot house which feels like a 2,500-square-foot house. Delivering quality, timeless architecture is all about how you use the space, how you let the light in, how you design the access and

circulation in the house and the relationship of different parts of the house with the garden and the surroundings. For instance, it’s not just the size of a window which will give your kitchen a light and airy feel; more important are the positioning of the window and the angles it creates. Also, where do you want lots of light to stream in, and where do you want to create a cosy feeling? Where do you want to have a seamless transition to the surrounding gardens, and where do you want to create more privacy? Taking all these considerations into account, and adding some original details, we can create a unique house that will feel like home from the very first day the clients move in, a place that they will instantly fall in love with and never grow tired of.”

Private homes While commissions from town councils and commercial real estate developers largely hinge on efficiency and return on investment, SASS’ dealings with their private customers are mainly about finding out what the customer is really looking for, and taking time to discuss details about the exterior and interior design. “One of the most important things is to have a good understanding of what kind of house the customer will immediately feel at home in. Part of this is to come up with a design that suits their lifestyle and the composition of their household, whether they have children, have just started a family, etc. This is why we take plenty of time and schedule various meetings to interview the clients about their lifestyles, and why we also visit them in their homes to get a clear idea of the dynamics of the household they are running and how their wants and needs can be translated into the design of their new home.”

Creative designs But the first question SASS ask their clients is budget related. “We really want to help clients to avoid overspending,” Sam explains. “When people start out building their own house, they can be overambitious in terms of space and materials. We want to make sure they can Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  23

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

The design for a large new multi-purpose development with a hotel, offices, restaurants and retail.

This is why SASS prefer to control and coordinate the complete project, from design and building applications through to contracting, construction, finishings and surroundings. “We work with a roster of builders we can trust, and in consultation with the client, we can recommend a builder that is competent and suitable for the project. And, of course, we will also be overseeing and guiding the project from start to finish.”

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Virtual environment This month, SASS themselves will be moving into a new home as well, near the river Scheldt in Temse. With offices on the ground floor, clients will be welcomed in a relaxed, informal setting on the first floor, where SASS have also installed a virtual design environment. “This is exciting new technology which will give our clients instant, intuitive understanding of the choices they make, not just in terms of the shapes of a design, but

also the different materials they can use. It’s yet another tool that we can use to deliver our clients the home that they dream of. And for ourselves, it’s a great new office to suit our ambitions to keep growing into the future. We can’t wait to move in!” The official opening of SASS’ new offices will be on 4 April 2019. Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

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The firm’s beautiful new office space on Luikstraat 7, Antwerpen. Photo: Tim Van de Velde

Balancing modesty and expression TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: BINST ARCHITECTS

With 45 years of experience across a range of disciplines, Belgium firm Binst Architects is in a stronger position than ever. Being able to take on any type of project is their unique selling point, but there is some continuity: everything they do falls under ‘abstract expressionism’, or, a healthy balance between intelligent modesty and controlled expression. “Like most firms in Belgium, we were hit hard during the 2008 global financial crisis, which is why we decided to open up and widen our focus,” director Luc Binst tells us. “We’ve come a long way since then. Our team has nearly doubled, we’ve moved into a fantastic new 26  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

office space on Luikstraat in the heart of Antwerp and, at this very moment, we’re working on over 800,000 square metres worth of projects.” While a wider, multidisciplinary focus technically means that they can take on anything, the team at Binst Architects feels most affinity with high-rise buildings, group housing and headquarter architecture. What most of their projects have in common is that they radiate ambition: “We like to see ourselves as the most dynamic and ambitious architecture firm of Flanders,” Binst states firmly. That this is no overstatement becomes clear when looking at the Doktoren (dock

tower), set to be built in Antwerp next year. “Traffic is getting worse every day, as are wider environmental problems,” says Binst. “That’s why we’ve been looking at sustainable and effective ways of making the most of the space that we have. High-rise buildings will help the city open up, while light materials and trees on top will make for a seamless integration with nature.” With its lean sculptural attitude and striking asymmetric shape, the tower is bound to be a statement piece. Binst: “Another high-rise building we’re very proud of is the Strijp-S in Eindhoven, which was commissioned from us by Philips. Here, we’ve tried to create a min-

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

iature Manhattan by playing with different heights and shapes. Rather than being a random building in an otherwise mostly low-rise environment, it naturally fits within its surroundings. Architecture is all about balance.”

The face of a business Binst Architects also know what it takes to visualise a multinational’s business card. Whether it is Cordeel (one of Belgium’s largest construction contractors) or De Persgroep (a leading media agency in Belgium), Loyens & Loeff (a Dutch law firm) or Belgium building company Denys: their headquarters are all phenomenal, and they have Binst Architects to thank for that. “Being asked to design someone’s headquarters is an incredible honour, and really motivates us to look for added value, architectural identity and inspiring authenticity,” says Binst. Cordeel’s headquarters is both aesthetically pleasing and incredibly practical. It was designed as an addition to their utility site and is thus centred on providing a clear, panoramic view. Two office blocks were placed on concrete units, 73 metres away from each other in order to create a building that was both high and

The dock tower.

The final design of De Persgroep headquarter.

wide enough. Each office block counts 2,300 square metres and is glazed from floor to ceiling, creating an office that is spacious and multifunctional. “De Persgroep held an open competition for their new headquarters, so we closely studied the square on which it was to be built and translated our findings into an architectural icon which actively engages with its environment,” Binst explains. The atmosphere of the surrounding station area will be altered, and the building’s highly dynamic design will strongly connect to current urban developments in nearby streets. On the inside, the building offers a spacious and comfortable environment with a restaurant, various coffee corners and multimedia pop-ups representing the 24/7 economy of the companies’ core service. “De Persgroep is internationally Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  27

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The Binst Architects team, currently formed of 50 ambitious employees. Photo: Herman Desmet

View from the dock tower, to be completed in 2020.

renowned, which we wanted to highlight by predominantly working with sustainable and contemporary materials,” says Binst. Ultimately, the building is to express the dynamic and buzzing nature of a press agency, both inside and outside.

Residential innovation The above examples all evidence a portfolio full of majestic and brave architecture, but the team at Binst Architecture has a thing for residential spaces, too. Residence Melopee in Antwerp. Photo: Koen van Damme

Cordeel headquarters.

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

“We are very interested in developing smart living spaces. The question of how to make innovation a practical, daily feature is one that often keeps us busy,” Binst admits. “It is our task as architects to always be conscious of evolving living and construction methods.” An excellent example of that is Residence Melopee in Antwerp, a residential block comprising 32 luxurious apartments built right in between the Schelde river and the Belgian equivalent of London Bridge. It is a beautiful corner block on the southern part of the new island, and a funky and contemporary interpretation of the existing warehouse typology. Binst: “It’s really where graphic design meets architecture. V-shaped white brick columns are subtly wrapped around the apartments like a folded envelope, which makes the building stand out in a very modest way. The residence has an elegant, fresh and dynamic appearance which perfectly suits the little island on which it is located.” Binst Architects is never short of ideas. In fact, their main goal for the future is to become even more creative than they already are. “Expanding our signature, that is what we want to focus on in the next few years,” Binst confirms. We cannot wait to see what else they have in store. Web:

The firm’s office stairway reflects their modern vision. Photo: Tim Van de Velde

De Strijp-S tower, Eindhoven.

De Persgroep headquarters under construction.

Miniature building model in the office lounge. Photo: Tim Van de Velde

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Building a beautiful box TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: JEROEN VERRECHT

Wastiau & Co is a family business in the best sense of the term. When starting the firm back in the 1980s, Guy Wastiau mostly worked on factory design in Belgium and France – a course that slowly changed with the turn of the millennium. In 2008, his daughter Marie and her partner Allen Zimmerman joined the practice, bringing with them their design-orientated start-up Wil-Ma. The industrial focus remained, but with more attention to contemporary aesthetics and architectural branding. “Industrial buildings are often little more than gigantic metal boxes, typically positioned along the highway and easily vis30  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

ible,” says Allen Zimmerman. “But more than just a box, industrial architecture can play an important role in company branding. If a factory or distribution centre stands out from the crowd, the brand stands out as well. We specialise in giving more thought to industrial architecture, and this approach to design is about more than just aesthetics. A well-thought-out masterplan and prefabricated structure are equally important.” Wanting to join the architectural expertise of the firm with a more conceptual approach, Marie and her partner, Allen Zimmerman, started Wil-Ma, a design collaboration focusing on the conceptual side of industrial architecture and

site planning. “We wanted to develop a youthful and dynamic counterpart to the years of experience already present within Wastiau,” Marie Wastiau explains. “We like to see Wil-Ma as a think tank; a place where we explore new concepts and materials. Ideas which will then be executed by architects at Wastiau & Co – there is a constant interaction between the two.” Marie Wastiau: “We started Wil-Ma because we felt a strong need to efficiently develop new ideas. Industrial architectural design can easily fall into repetition, which means that no real developments take place unless the conceptual solution itself is fresh.” Working with an international team of architects, the American-Belgian

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

duo of Wil-Ma strives for innovative and imaginative design. The know-how and experience of Wastiau keeps us grounded.” Together, Wastiau & Co and Wil-Ma work on a range of projects, with scales ranging from extra large to extra small. Zimmerman: “We’ve recently finished up construction on a factory with offices for Schoeller Allibert, a manufacturer of reusable plastic pallets and crates, and Blue Oceans XL, an investor in start-ups and innovations. They were looking for a unique building that united art and functionality, which we responded to by being inspired by the plasticity of polyethylene during the production process. Referencing the key characteristics of each company, we built our design around plasticity and movement, resulting in a building dominated by curvilinear shapes.” Another design visibly inspired by the client’s product is the HQ and warehouse of Energetic Lighting Europe (Yankon Lighting) in Kontich, Belgium. Serving as the Chinese LED manufacturer’s logistic

hub for European activities, the building’s interesting composition is brought to life by a mixture of both white and transparent shades and intensities. “The whiteness of the concrete, glass and aluminium contrasts poetically with the colours of the surrounding landscape, referencing the soft white glow of LED lighting,” Zimmerman explains. For each project Wastiau & Co and Wil-Ma take on, integrating the client’s values with the environment of the building is key. “For the new T-Port Logistic Campus in Twente, the Netherlands, we really wanted the environment’s rich history to play a role in our design,” Wastiau tells us. “Twente knows a long history of sheep farming and weaving, which we wanted to refer to by including weaving patterns – made out of industrial materials – on the building’s facades. In doing so, we play subtly on the connection between the environment’s rich history and the future of the fashion industry, in which e-commerce, and T-Port Logistics, plays an increasingly large part.”

All projects have a strong industrial link, which will continue to be the case in the future. “Our goal is to stay true to what we’ve always done, but we’d like to expand that vision by paying more attention to sustainability, liveable work environments and urban-inspired masterplans for industrial sites,” says Wastiau. “The industrial world is changing, and it is our job to reflect on those changes with every step we take.”


Photo: Paul D’Haese

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The entire cultural spectrum under one modern roof TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: F. COOLS & D. DE SMET

Zaventem, a village in the shadow of the mighty traffic hub of Brussels Airport, was in desperate need of a new cultural meeting spot for its local community. Multidisciplinary architecture studio, ebtca, was up for the challenge and created an award-winning, creative oasis, just a stone’s throw away from the tarmac. Zaventem’s new cultural centre combines, among other things, a library, a theatre, a party hall and a bistro. This treat of engineering proves that ebtca architects’ formula works. As specialists in assembling the right team for each project, they were very suited to sinking their teeth into this complex undertaking. “Depending on the nature of the assignment, we attract some of our many contacts to work alongside us,” co-owner Tom Caluwaerts explains. “Engineers, designers… This way, we can offer our clients a tailor-made team.” With every job they take on, ebtca architects starts from scratch, keeping a safe distance from standardisation. “We always strive to make each structure smarter and more 32  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

efficient than the last. Whether it is a house, a school or a retirement home.” While designing cultural centre De Factorij, they have gathered 18 different experts to investigate the challenges and peculiarities of the project and how to tackle them. Once the construction started, their team grew to over 150 people. “That was a big undertaking, but it led to a satisfying result. Especially the theatre can count on much praise. For many artists, De Factorij is number one with a bullet on their list of places they want to play because of its next-to-perfect acoustics.” Due to their passion for integrated ‘total’ architecture, they managed to implement all reflecting and absorbing materials into the original structure. That requires more time and precision while designing, but reProject information: De Factorij, Willem Lambertstraat 10, 1930 Zaventem Surface: 9,800 square metres In collaboration with: Archiles, Stubeco, Heedfeld, TTAS, D2S, Wauters

sults in beauty and harmony. Many judges of architectural awards who have added the building to their shortlists confirm the wonderful uniqueness of the result. In Zaventem, the biggest hindrance was the sound of the ascending planes and passing trains and cars, which could not be noticeable in the theatre. “We chose to combine the advantages of building partially underground with a box-in-a-box technique. This way, the deafening noise is unnoticeable to the spectators. Its low location also insulates the building, giving it a constant temperature of 15 degrees. That is great for the environment as well as for the cultural temple’s chequebook.” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

The design for the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest left the jury impressed.


A building is never an island. The adjacent houses or spaces, the local legislation and the context of the neighbourhood determine how we experience any construction. Bobby Fogel, the founder of BF Architecture, believes the ‘genius loci’ is an architect’s main source of inspiration and studies carefully each location before he puts his signature on it. “Architecture is the art of living,” renowned architect Bobby Fogel states. To him, a building, just like any piece of art, should tell a story to those who look at it. “The late Oscar Niemeyer told me: the biggest museums in the world are the cities: and they are for free. Whether you have knowledge of architecture or not, everyone can walk around and enjoy the stories these masterpieces tell.” For him and his office, BF Architecture, a building should speak its own story. The choice of the materials and the design should be rooted in its location. The genius loci (or, the spirit of the place) is vital in the creation of any building with legitimacy. With this ambitious approach, Fogel often showcases his talent in the most

prestigious designing contests in the world. On occasion, he often reaches second place, as happened with his design for the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest. In this case, the jury acknowledged his design to be the most architecturally interesting, exceeding all the needs and expectations for a 21stcentury museum. However, the construction price of it, made him finish in second place. “It would, of course, be nicer to win, but even as a silver laureate, you can make valuable connections. People now know my name, which presents opportunities. I had the chance to exhibit at collateral events of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and, recently, my name was listed in the book 30 of the most relevant world architects. That motivates me.” Because of its great reputation, BF architecture attracts many students as well. “Our style and vision are much appreciated among younger talents. Therefore, we always have a few interns. They stimulate us to think more on an academic level.” Because of the remarkable results for interns, BF Architecture has

built a great reputation among universities. Therefore, they offer in-house student dorms for Erasmus students who want to come for a post-academic internship. “We work as an open institution with a strong and interesting programme. Many of our interns are so passionate, that they even keep working long after closing time.” Web:

Bobby Fogel, the founder of BF Architecture.

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Where, in many architects’ offices, attention for sustainability is still in its infancy, for Jamie Van Lede, founder of Origins Architects, it has been second nature for decades. Without compromising on comfort and beauty, he designs green and innovative buildings for his clients. Now, he is ready to transfer his know-how to the world in his very own academy. The architectural microbes struck Jamie Van Lede at a very young age. When Saint Nicholas gave him his first toolbox at the age of five and he built a birdhouse with it, he knew he never wanted to do anything other than designing and creating buildings. As the child of a commercially minded father and an ideological mother, Van Lede was destined to turn sustainable ideas into a healthy business. Yet, that was not always the easy choice. “Before going to university, I made a trip around the world, passing Canada, 34  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

Russia and India. Along the way, I discovered many ingenious and fascinating building techniques which optimised the local buildings to their climates. A craft which had long been forgotten in the Netherlands. On my arrival, I enrolled in the Technical University of Delft, which was - and still is - the Dutch Mecca for all those with architectural aspirations. For our first assignment, to design a house, I tried to implement some of the sustainable methods I had picked up abroad into my work. To my great surprise, they flunked me for it, saying they didn’t believe in my ecological ideas. From that moment on, I knew there was no room for my vision at this university.” Determined to become an architect anyhow, Van Lede stayed in school and used these years to develop and explore the world outside the campus as well. He sneaked into classes at other universities and bought many books about architec-

ture and sustainability, a collection that grew to 3,000 copies to date. The lack of guidance did not bother him. As a born innovator, he loves exploring uncharted territory on his own. “Things that haven’t been done before always attracted me. Throughout my career, I have pioneered on more than one occasion. I was the first in the Netherlands to design a Smart Grid House, an energy-producing renovated building and a house with a

Van Lede.

Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Master Architects  |  Designing the Future

Velcro-roof. It is nice to make the jump, knowing both man and nature will benefit from it.”

‘Sustainability is about taking responsibilities’ Now, after 20 years behind the drawing table, Van Lede wants to change course. No longer will he just design hyperecological constructions for his clients, but he will also share his vision with the rest of the world in his own academy. “A few years ago, I bought De Vijverschie, a 400-year-old farm right outside of Rotterdam. I restored it, made it sustainable and brought all my books and research with me, creating a small oasis of nature and knowledge in the city’s conglomerate. By teaching about sustainability here, I can inspire others to apply the same methods and philosophies in their own practice or sector — whether they are fellow architects, designers or even farmers.” As a method, he believes in how Plato ran his academy: not by telling others what they have to know but by stimulating them to discover it themselves. “Sustainability is more than adding insulation and solar panels. The topic is wider than that. It involves materials, transport, health, mobility, culture, climate... Today, the focus is always on energy, yet, the solutions they propose often relocate the problem. For example, many would make a house sustainable by putting a windmill in the garden. However, they forget that the metal used

for it was probably produced by modern slaves in China to be shipped off to the other side of the world afterwards. Sustainability is about taking your responsibilities and knowing the impact of your work.”

‘Always better to reuse’ One of Van Lede’s proudest creations is a house he renovated in the provincial town of Wageningen. The current owner’s ancestors had built it soon after the Second World War when sustainable materials were scarce. After 60 years of service, he wanted to transform it into a comfortable and sustainable house. “Before the owner came to me, six different architects told him it was impossible to do. All of them advised him to demolish it

and start from scratch.” The owner, who was a professor specialised in soil conditions, however, saw rare plants blossoming in the garden and did not want to disrupt their biotope. “I have designed him a house that generates all the energy they need, can be heated with a minimum of energy and even contains a shelter for bats and swallows. The home produces enough energy to charge his electrical car with as well. On first sight, it might not look like a spectacular, unseen building, but for me, it is. It would have been a waste to tear it down, throw away the materials and disturb the local fauna and flora. It is always better to reuse instead.” Web:

Van Lede: “I brought all my books and made it a little oasis of nature and knowledge.”

De Vijverschie, a 400-year-old farm in Rotterdam’s conglomerate.

Van Lede: “The house in Wageningen produces enough energy to charge the owner’s car as well.”

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Job Schroën.

When asked to design a villa that could not be higher than three metres, Schroën took maximal advantage of the basement.

“The wires of the stairwell act as a partition between the kitchen and the living room but also connect both spaces by filling up the emptiness in between.”

‘Troublesome situations are actually very fun’ TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: JAPSER JUINEN

What is a talented architect if not a problem-solver? By keenly engineering to your needs and obstacles, offices like September Architectuur come up with solutions that are often unorthodox, but always effective. “I don’t like picking the straight path. Interesting roads allure me.” “I love my job,” continues Job Schroën, founder of September Architectuur. “I enjoy every project I sink my teeth into and I think that reflects on the outcome. Every design I create is a little fun and out of the ordinary.” As a self-proclaimed expert in finding interesting solutions for fascinating problems, he prefers keeping a safe distance from obvious solutions. “I don’t like picking the straight path just because it is the easiest. On the contrary, bumpy and interesting roads allure me. I am triggered when people hire me for a project with special restrictions. A villa that can’t be higher than three metres? An ambitious project on a shoestring? 36  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

Troublesome situations like these are actually very fun!” For his own house, Schroën has designed a spectacular spiral staircase. “I wanted it to be elegant and safe for my children as well as an integrated conversation piece.” This is combined in a DNAshaped structure which does not only connect the house vertically, but also builds bridges between different areas of each storey. “On the first floor, the passing staircase separates the kitchen from the living room. The wires of the stairwell act as a partition but also connect both spaces by filling up the emptiness in between.” Unlike its ambitions, September Architectuur is a rather small company. This allows Schroën and his team to dedicate their undivided attention to just a few projects at a time. “The key is to not get tunnel vision. We avert that by always discussing everything with the team.

As a teacher at the Technical University of Delft, I also have the luxury of being able to discuss my ideas with the next generation. They look at our craft with a different pair of eyes. Where sustainability is a selling point for architects of my age, it is a no-brainer to my students. To them, building sustainably and energyefficiently is just as obvious as putting a bathroom in a house or laying a roof on top. By interacting with them, I can learn, understand and implement the mentality of tomorrow’s architects into my practice today.” Web:


The ultimate destination The Netherlands is a holiday destination for the masses. It is a paradise for cyclists, beach fanatics and all those who wish to surrender themselves to nature. Yet, the low countries have even more in store, and for everyone from culture vultures to foodies too. Explore the versatility of the Dutch and their country this year and you may well be surprised at the undiscovered pearls which are just a stone’s throw from some of the country’s most iconic hotspots. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: NBTC

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Discover Benelux  |  Netherlands Guide 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination



Top places to visit When on a visit in the Netherlands, many tourists lose themselves in the decadent beauty of its fabulous cities. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, The Hague: all of them manage to combine the exquisite beauty they have inherited from the past with many modern and innovative additions. Yet, once outside those metropolitan bubbles, you can explore real Dutch life with all your senses. The country’s small-

er cities and villages are what postcards are made of, and are the perfect spots in which to immerse yourself in the culture of cheese and clogs, or meet locals.

Nature, history and culture Many destinations, such as Nieuwkoop, Wassenaar and Heemskerk, will dazzle you with the best that Mother Nature has to offer. Both sweet and salty waters meander through and past the villag-

es, inviting you to take a cold dip or - if you are lucky - ice skate on top of it. In Halderberge and Maastricht, you are welcome to enjoy some culture. You can bump into the biggest cultural prodigies at international art fairs or look back at the past through the rich pallet of protected patrimony, which towers above the iconically flat skyline. Meanwhile, Arnhem and Vught both have plenty to offer any fans of history. Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  39

Discover Benelux  |  Netherlands Guide 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Top art and culture spots The Netherlands is drenched in culture from top to bottom. Amsterdam might be one of Europe’s leading cities when it comes to cultural activities, but there are also amazing alternative attractions outside of the metropole. On top of that, you avoid the long waiting lines, huge crowds and the high entrance fees.

Centraal Museum Utrecht.

TEFAF, Maastricht.


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Haarlem’s Ten Boom House, for example, confronts you with the horrors of the Second World War in a similar way to Anne Frank’s house in the capital. The family Ten Boom used to hide Jewish families from the Nazis as well, sometimes even in a secret compartment behind a fake wall. For art lovers, meanwhile, the Fries Museum, in the upper north of the country, is the way to go. There, globetrotter Eric Van Hove exhibits his work, which mixes traditional crafts with modern industry. Those who like history will most probably enjoy witnessing the Benelux’ biggest dolmen. In the Hunebedcentrum, you can learn about these mystical constructions and their brilliant builders. In all, the Netherlands offers so much more than just Amsterdam’s greatest hotspots. Dive into the cultural offerings from the rest of the country and enjoy a beautiful road trip through the countryside in one fell swoop.

Discover Benelux  |  Netherlands Guide 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Craving more culture? These five exhibitions on Dutch soil are absolute must-sees! Glorious Delft Blue Royal Delft Experience, Delft Until 30 June

While the colour of all the Netherlands is orange, the city of Delft is undoubtedly blue. The iconic blue and white china which has put the city on the map celebrates its 365th birthday this year. At the exposition, Glorious Delft Blue, cups and vases map out the unique, elegant and crafty grandeur of the Dutch golden age.

Caravaggio and Europe Centraal Museum, Utrecht Until 24 March

In the 17th century, three painters from Utrecht, with a passion for Caravaggio’s work, travelled all the way to Rome to witness the master’s art with their own eyes. Today, their work hangs next to that of their inspiration in a joint exhibition. Enjoy over 70 brilliant paintings, among which are some from the Vatican and the Louvre, and allow yourself to be just as amazed as these three passionate admirers were four centuries ago.

world tour in the majestic Dutch capitals. For three days only, you can gaze at the best pictures taken worldwide. Eventually, it is estimated that over two billion people could go to view the images in one of the 100 cities where the exhibition will pass, yet, the citizens of Amsterdam have the privilege of seeing them first.

Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 23 April – 10 July

This spring, the city of Rotterdam will be the biggest architectural hub in the world once again. During this biannual event of exhibitions, conferences and other activities, architects and architecture aficionados feed their passion with further knowledge and inspiration, with which they can sink their teeth into new and innovative projects for the upcoming two years. For more cultural recommendations, peek at

Maestro van Wittel – Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape Museum Flehite, Amersfoort Until 5 May

Just like how many Western pop-artists are big in Japan, yet hardly known in their hometowns, the 17th-century Dutch painter, Caspar van Wittel, was widely famous in Italy. The master from Amersfoort, who had a great gift for painting landscapes, left the low countries when he was only 20 years old to roam throughout artistic Italy. Now, his work is back in his hometown, showing its citizens how proud they can be of this extraordinary, yet almost forgotten, townsman.

World Press Photo 2019 Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam 11-13 April 2019

Traditionally, the laureates of the prestigious World Press Photo contest start their Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  41

Discover Benelux  |  Top Places to Visit in the Netherlands in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Nieuwkoop’s historic heart, located right by the lakes. Photo: Ruben Griffioen


Get the full Dutch experience TEXT: EVA MENGER

Tourists in the Netherlands often try to get a flavour of the country by visiting the Keukenhof flower park or tourist attractions de Zaanse Schans and Kinderdijk. The problem? Queues and queues of people! Nieuwkoop, on the other hand, is an undiscovered gem where visitors can peacefully enjoy the full Dutch experience. Located right in between major cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, this little Dutch town offers the perfect base for people wanting to make the most of their trip to the Netherlands. Need to do business in the capital? Not a problem. The Amsterdam business district is only a half hour drive away. It is also very easy to reach from Schiphol, making it a suitable spot for a quick visit. 42  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

An undiscovered pearl “Nieuwkoop really is an undiscovered pearl,” Joke Pelser, marketing manager at Nieuwkoop Marketing, tells us. “The municipality is surrounded by green meadows and a very unique nature reserve called de Nieuwkoopse Plassen. It’s also the only place in the country where mill-courses are still being used for draining the surrounding polder – there’s a couple of them open for visitors just outside the village, where tours are given by the millers themselves. The typical image of windmills, tulips, cows, cheese, clogs and green meadows; that’s how we still live around here.” No less than 26 per cent of the Netherlands – pretty much the whole western part of the country – is located below sea level, and it is this experience of

living in such circumstances that is really tangible in Nieuwkoop. With mills, locks and dykes still actively doing their job, it is the best example of authentic Dutch country living out there. The Oudheidkundig- en Poldermuseum, a museum exploring various elements of the village’s history, is an excellent place to learn all about that.

Otters in the Nieuwkoopse Plassen. Photo: Luc Hoogenstein

Discover Benelux  |  Top Places to Visit in the Netherlands in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

“Nieuwkoop has always been a town of crafts,” says Pelser. For centuries, it was where reed cutters spent day after day taking care of reed fields. Something you can still witness by taking a boat trip on the local lakes, where a guide will take you past reed fields showing the various stages of reed cutting (you will even be able to try it yourself). The village also knows a long history of forging, which is explained in a small but incredibly charming museum (Smederijmuseum Nieuwkoop). Located under two ancient chestnut trees, you will find an authentic cottage followed by an original workshop where the rich history of this beautiful craft comes alive immediately.

Nature The location is a true gift as well, offering natural facilities left, right and centre. “The most amazing thing is that you can really experience these nature reserves,” Pelser states. “The Nieuwkoopse Plassen (a group of man-made shallow lakes), are fantastic for cycling, hiking and paddling, with plenty of beautiful routes available for days of entertainment. A recent trend has

Ice skating by the windmills. Photo: VVV Nieuwkoop

Tulip fields in Nieuwkoop. Photo: Fam Flowerfarm

been stand up paddling (supping), which is a really fun and active way to explore the area with a group of friends. Ideal for office parties too!” Other active ways of exploring the waters are sailing and canoeing (both available for rent) and – perhaps our favourite – a unique GPS escape tour.

Wildlife The environment is also full of wildlife, perfect for nature photographers or bird spotters. The lakes attract otters (which only happens around very clean water), and are home to the wonderful purple heron. You may even be able to spot some deer and foxes here, if you are lucky. What is more, the area is known as one of the country’s best spots for natural ice-skating. “On those rare occasions that the ice is thick enough, people from all over the country come down with their skates. Those are busy times for the village and it’s always incredibly cosy,” says Pelser. Another reason Dutch people love to visit Nieuwkoop is Liemeer, a scenic nine and 18-hole golf course which opened in 2007.

Boats on the Nieuwkoopse Plassen. Photo: Sjanie de Geus

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Ice skating on the Nieuwkoopse Plassen. Photo: Gemeente Nieuwkoop

Beautiful situated tea gardens. Photo: De Sfeerstal

Local products at the farm shop. Photo: Jan Nieuwenhuizen

Pelser: “My biggest local secret? That’ll be De Meije, without a doubt. This little river is only accessible by foot, bike, or small boats and has ancient little bridges that need to be operated manually: a mustvisit for anyone who loves natural beauty, peace and quiet. Both de Nieuwkoopse Plassen and De Meije are also very popular amongst photographers and artists, partly because of the area’s magnificent light. Many of their works can be viewed in local galleries as well as national museums.” Looking for an overnight stay in this authentic Dutch village? There is a host of small hotels as well as intimate Bed & Breakfasts around. From beautiful buildings by the water to remote cottages, you are guaranteed to find an idyllic place to stay that will help you seamlessly integrate into the small village lifestyle.

Gourmet delights

Supping is fun for all ages. Photo: Nikano

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Dutch clouds at De Meije. Photo: Sjanie de Geus

Foodies will not be disappointed here either. Nieuwkoop is full of lovely restaurants and cafés, many of them overlooking the water. The many romantic waterside ter-

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races are perfect for those first days of spring or long, warm summer nights. Another great place for eating is the village’s historical heart, located around a square called Reghthuysplein. Here, you will find various cafés, restaurants, little shops and a small harbour – again with striking views over the lakes. Winter, spring, summer or autumn: the quintessentially Dutch Nieuwkoop offers an authentic experience whatever the weather. Practice your ice-skating moves on the (if you are lucky) frozen lakes, join the locals for supping on a sunny afternoon, explore the peaceful environment on your bike or learn about the village’s fascinating history in one of its many museums. No matter what your interests are, this is a part of the Netherlands that you do not want to miss. Web: Instagram: visitnieuwkoop

Biking, Hiking and Sailing at the Kwakelbrug. Photo: VVV Nieuwkoop

The Groene Jonker, a great place for bird spotting and hiking. Photo: Jan Kriek

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Fort Isabella.


A real-life treasure hunt TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: GEMEENTE VUGHT

In the South of the Netherlands, not far from atmospheric city ‘s Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch for locals), lies Vught, a small village surrounded by greenery and cultural highlights. With local programme Treasures of Vught, authorities have put the area’s most valuable, often hidden, sights back on the map. The origins of Vught go way back. The village was first mentioned in 1006, and those centuries of history are still highly visible throughout the area – whether it is Maurick Castle, a medieval castle built in 1400, or Fort Isabella, an impressive renovation of a 1617 fortification. Other treasures are 20th-century manor Landgoed Huize Bergen, Brabant’s longest beach De IJzeren Man (The Iron Man), and 46  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught, a memorial of what, during World War II, used to be the only SS concentration camp located outside of German annexation.

DePetrus “These are all beautiful and historical sights, but the treasure that we’re perhaps most proud of is DePetrus,” alderman Pennings tells us. “This 1884 church, located in the heart of the village, was saved from demolition and instead rebuilt into a meeting centre, including a library, museum and fairtrade shop. Now it’s a place where visitors can explore new ways of storytelling and information sharing.” Upon its opening in 2018, the centre was praised worldwide, with positive reviews coming from media outlets including CNN and Forbes.

DePetrus’ biggest attraction is the library, which, next to a host of modern and classic literature, offers facilities where self-development is encouraged by way of meaning, interpretation and context. There is also a comfortable reading café for hungry and thirsty visitors to settle down in, and a meeting centre for daily activities aimed at improving the quality of life amongst local citizens. Last but not least, DePetrus is home to The Vught Museum, which exhibits a large and diverse collection of work by local painters, as well as a visual telling of the village’s fascinating history. In addition to this permanent display, it curates temporary, often local exhibitions. This month, for example, visitors can view work by town local and photographer Wim van

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Passel, who shot a wonderful collection of photos in the Polar Regions.

this will be a great way of showing the world what we have to offer.”

Nature and sports

Culinary delights

Indeed, Vught has plenty to offer for fans of history and culture. But the same goes for those into nature and sports. “Fans of cycling can hire a bike and follow the ‘Linie 1629’ cycling route,” says Penning. This 49 kilometre route, following the ruins of the water line used by Frederik Hendrik to besiege and conquer Spanishoccupied‘s Hertogenbosch in 1629, takes you past the wider area’s natural and cultural highlights. As the route is circular, it is also highly versatile, though cyclists wanting to cut down on distance can of course opt for an alternative. Just follow the route on your phone using GPS (download the app for interesting, on-route facts) and see where it takes you.

And that is a whole lot: with a short-game area located right in front of a church, a spacious, open-air driving range, a super savvy golf simulator and luxurious spa facilities, Bernardus is an exquisite golf court. “The food is great too,” Pennings continues, which we are more than happy to believe knowing that the court’s club house, Noble Kitchen, was founded by Michelin-star chef Edwin Kats. Whether you play golf or not, the food

“We’re also very thrilled to have been selected as host for the KLM Open from 2020 to 2022,” Pennings adds. Part of the EGP European Tour, The KLM Open is an annual golf tournament held in the Netherlands, usually attracting some 45,000 people from all over the world. “The Bernardus golf court in Cromvoirt, Vught, has only just been opened, and

they serve here, eaten with a view of the court’s wonderful surroundings, is reason enough for paying a visit. Pennings: “If there’s one thing we can say it’s that Vught has much more to offer than most people think. It may be a small town, but we really have something for everyone. Whether it’s pastries and sweets (people from all over the country come down specially for Patisserie de Rouw), or historical sites, it can all be found here.” Web:

Golf Course Bernardus Cromvoirt.

The impressive interior of cultural centre DePetrus.

Former concentration camp, ‘Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught’.

De Ijzeren Man, Brabant’s longest beach.

Maurick Castle.

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Basilica Oudenbosch.

Discover religious heritage the Dutch way TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: GEMEENTE HALDERBERGE

The southern parts of the Netherlands are predominantly Catholic regions, so it comes as no surprise that the area is brimming with religious heritage sites. For instance, the south-western municipality of Halderberge has amazing historical buildings and museums, dedicated to this legacy. “And the best way to discover all this splendour, is by doing it the Dutch way; on a bicycle,” says José Besters of Halderberge Municipality. Although the towns of Oudenbosch, Oud Gastel, Hoeven, Bosschenhoofd and Stampersgat have been around 48  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

for centuries, the municipality to which these towns belong is fairly new - it was established in 1997. Each town has its own uniqueness to it, but it is the Roman Catholic heritage that binds them all together. Oudenbosch is the biggest of the five. Here, you simply cannot escape the heritage, in part thanks to the Oudenbosch Basilica of the Holy Agatha and Barbara. If not for its sheer size, people are overwhelmed by this copy of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. “The basilica came to be in 1880, after 15 years of construction, thanks to father Willem Hellemons.

He lived in Rome for a while and was in awe of St. Peter’s Basilica. He studied as many details as possible, so he could create a replica in Oudenbosch,” explains Besters. “It is now one of the Netherlands’ most famous churches, with over 70,000 visitors each year.” The basilica was designed almost entirely by famous architect P.J. Cuypers, who was also responsible for the Rijksmuseum and Central Station in Amsterdam. Cuypers went on to build the monastery Bovendonk in Hoeven, also part of the municipality. This marvellous building, characterised by its neo-gothic style, looks sober from afar, but up close you

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will notice the stained glass windows, beautiful ornaments and high ceilings.

Touring Halderberge by bike Today, the monastery is the location of a beautiful hotel, where the priests’ study rooms and lodgings have been turned into comfortable rooms. Bovendonk is centrally located between Breda, Bergen op Zoom and Willemstad, making it the perfect base for a cultural and historic trip, not to mention a great spot for discovering this amazing region by bicycle. Oudenbosch is only five kilometres away, so the basilica can be reached within a few minutes. From Bovendonk, you can also follow one of the many bicycle routes that have been set out not just in Halderberge, but throughout the whole region. They are categorised by length, but also by theme. For instance, they have the ‘Lost Peat’ route, which will take you along the history of the Peat and even extends into Belgium. Other routes take you along the different towns and museums, as well as the two marinas in Halderberge, where you have the perfect opportunity to take a break along the waterfront, with a nice refreshment or a local specialty beer.

each day, with live music at the different checkpoints. Perfect if you want to get to know Halderberge and beyond - and meet other cyclists too.

all airworthy and frequently take off. And for water enthusiasts, ‘Splesj Water Park’ in Hoeven is one of the Benelux’ biggest water parks.

And do not think Halderberge is just about monumental buildings; thrill seekers can get their shot of adrenaline by going skydiving at Breda International Airport, a private airport located in Bosschenhoofd. The skydiving club was founded by a very active parachutists club, who will take you to as high as 9,000 to 10,000 feet. From there, you tandem jump out of a plane. It is quite a popular attraction and not the only one at Breda International Airport. The Flying Museum, also located there, has a unique collection of historical aircraft, which are

In addition to all that, Halderberge still has even more to offer, such as an observatory, several museums and a beautiful arboretum with amazing varieties of bushes and trees. “Short or long stay, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in our city and in the West-Brabant region. Hop on your bike or start hiking, but above all, enjoy and have a pleasant stay.” Web:

During the Ascension Day weekend, Hoeven has a four-day bicycle event, where thousands of families and tourists ride along a 25 kilometre, 40 kilometre, 60 kilometre or 100 kilometre route Basilica Oudenbosch.

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Conveniently situated in the province of North Holland, Heemskerk is an attractive coastal town with plenty to offer. Whether you are looking to explore surroundings replete with history, recharge your batteries amidst peaceful and green landscapes, or spend a day breathing in a good dose of healthy sea air, this undiscovered pearl of the North Sea does not disappoint. The next time you visit the Netherlands, you may want to escape the hustle and bustle of its major cities and head to Heemskerk. What started out as a small agricultural/horticultural village in the Middle Kennemerland region, mainly existing 50  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

from the cultivation of strawberries and flower bulbs during the 19th century and early 20th century, has blossomed into a town that delights without overwhelming.

Multifaceted and easily accessible A visit to Heemskerk means wandering through its cosy centre and stopping along the way to savour a local ‘Ezelsbok’ beer or a bite at one of its inviting restaurants and cafés. Those seeking retail therapy, will find plenty of shops in the town centre. Fascinated by history? Heemskerk boasts medieval castles, ancient churches and monuments that attest to the

town’s rich past. Not to be missed is Château Marquette, which dates to the 13th century and proudly stands on a sprawling, lush estate. Also worth checking out are the Reformed Church, known as the Dorpskerk (Village Church) and dating to the 11th century, and the

Marieke van Dijk.

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12th-century Assumburg Castle with its impressive French Classicist-style gardens. Every December, the castle grounds host a Christmas fair with live music, performances and plenty of holiday inspiration. Visiting Heemskerk also means revelling in its natural beauty. “The numerous meadows and a belt of parks and ponds make Heemskerk a green heart in the northern Randstad,” says Marieke van Dijk, Alderman of Tourism. “And all this is but a 15 minute train ride from Alkmaar and Haarlem and 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station,” she adds. But that is not all: come the spring, the colourful fields of blooming flowers nestled between the dunes are quite a sight to behold. Experience their vibrant splendour by cycling through the region and meeting the growers. You will soon realise why Heemskerk’s quality flowers are renowned the world over.

Quiet beaches, rolling dunes and vast woodlands What makes Heemskerk especially in-

viting is its proximity to the seaside. Heemskerk’s wide, pleasant beach not only happens to be the cleanest in North Holland, but it is perfect for those looking for a more secluded place to sink their toes into the sand. Van Dijk: “The beach can be reached by bike or by foot only. This results in a pleasant family beach, never too crowded, where you will experience the pure and restful character of the Heemskerk coast.” You will not find noisy bars at this beach either. Instead, there is one friendly pavilion, De Vrijheit, where you can sit back with a cup of coffee, a cool drink or a satisfying dinner. Heemskerk’s beach is part of one of the country’s largest protected natural areas. Known as the Noordhollands Duinreservaat (North Holland Dunes Reservation), this oasis of calm stretches out over approximately 20 kilometres and counts 5,300 hectares. For a more active way to explore the area, put on your hiking shoes and trek through the sandy valleys and hills bordered to the east by Europe’s largest expanse of parabolic dunes. Another option is to ven-

ture out on horseback or to bike through the shady woodlands where you might just encounter robust Highland cattle lazily grazing. The region’s cycling hub network offers marked trails yet allows ample opportunity to plan routes that suit you best. The ‘Rondje Heemskerk’, for example, is highly recommended: “This cycle route follows the historic boundaries of the municipality and is literally a bicycle tour ‘around Heemskerk’,” says Van Dijk. “It is an interesting and varied journey over dykes and through dunes, passing agricultural land, meadows and water. You will also see the town’s beautiful houses and castles. In short, it is Heemskerk at its best.” Already planning a trip? The Stayokay hostel at Assumburg Castle, Château Marquette’s hotel, and one of the many B&Bs, will most certainly make your stay even more memorable. Web:

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The region of Wassenaar and Voorschoten is one of the Netherlands’ hidden gems for an enriching experience through nature, culture and history. The royal family once resided here, and are still spotted regularly around the local restaurants, country estates and beaches – or at Luciano’s, the country’s best ice cream parlour.

Vlietstra, advisor of recreation and tourism at the adjoining municipalities. “The area literally has it all: beaches, dunes, nature reserves, country estates, castles, museums, top-notch restaurants and shopping… And you’re surrounded by rich history through ancient linden trees, bunkers leftover from the Second World War and many listed buildings.”

The municipalities of Wassenaar and Voorschoten stretch out for 29 square miles and are located only half an hour away from Schiphol. It is a green, waterrich area with beautiful historic villages and much to see, do, taste and experience. “I could tell you something about so many things…there just wouldn’t be enough room in the article,” smiles Arjenne

Wassenaar: the seaside country estate

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A fifth of Wassenaar is covered by water, and its coastline is more than eight kilometres long. At the seaside, there are many activities on offer. “You can stay on the beach, sail a catamaran or enjoy the tranquillity of nature,” says Vlietstra. “Meijendel is a beautiful coastal dunes

area, with several marked walking trails and cycling paths so you can explore at your own pace. At the nature centre, you can learn more about the rich bird life and fragile vegetation.” There are many lesser known sites to be discovered too. Local blogger Femke Hameetman describes how she tempted

Photo: Beeldbank Dunea

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her teenage children into a nature trip by telling them about the recluse’s cave in the Backershagen forest. “When we got there, my daughter asked me if I could photograph her by the hermitage. ‘For Instagram?’ I asked, and she nodded. Funny: first she didn’t want to come, and now she was sharing the outdoor feeling with her online friends.”

ture areas in the Netherlands. The heart of Vlietland is formed by three lakes, surrounded by forests, creeks, sunbathing areas and a park-like landscape. Vlietland is connected to the Vliet, a beautiful, old boat-canal. On the Vliet, you can take a boat out for a spin and have a drink on a terrace by the water. It is even possible to reach the centre of Voorschoten by sloop.

Another interesting feature is the remains of an immense defence work from the Second World War, the so-called Atlantic Wall. It is a 5,000-kilometre-long defence line founded by the Germans. With nearly 1,000 metres of underground masonry corridors, five more bunkers are connected and inhabited by one of the largest populations of the lake bat in Western Europe. Wassenaar also boasts the Voorlinden museum, that offers modern and contemporary art, along with landscaped and sculpture gardens. For thrill seekers there is the amusement park Duinrell, with many exciting rides and a tropical swimming paradise with 16 unique water slides.

“In the centre, there are information panels that guide you through the rich history of Voorschoten,” says Vlietstra. “Did you know, for example, that the horse market originated in 1200 and is one of the oldest annual markets in the Netherlands?” Every last weekend of July, the street fills up with horses, there are market stalls, and entertaining activities for children. People from near and far flock to the centre: it is Voorschoten’s most popular event. “And when you’re there, make sure you check out the 15th-century cottage in the middle of restaurant La Casita, with a B&B over the top. It’s little gems like this that make Voorschoten such a special place,” enthuses Vlietstra.

Voorschoten, pearl on the Vliet

Cycling and walking along history

Vlietland at Voorschoten is one of the most attractive water sports, recreation and na-

Both Wassenaar and Voorschoten have beautiful cycling and walking routes, like

Photo: Beeldbank Dunea

the one going past the famous country estates or the route of the Engelandvaarders (England sailors) that shows the story of the Soldier of Orange. There are several castles that are open to the public, like Kasteel de Wittenburg, which has ten very exclusive hotel rooms and regularly hosts intimate concerts, or Kasteel Duivenvoorde, that has many stories to tell. If you go during the museum season, you can visit the castle museum, stroll through the park and marvel at the rich history of the castle and estate. “And the royal estate de Horsten is also worth a visit,” concludes Vlietstra. “That is where King WillemAlexander and Queen Máximá used to live, a green retreat in our royal region.” Web: fietsroute-engelandvaarders

Photo: Beeldbank Dunea

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Maastricht. Photo: HugoThomassen

Photo: TEFAF & the City.


A melting pot of international art and culture TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: MAASTRICHT MARKETING

Maastricht is the Netherlands’ most European (and cosmopolitan) city, located at the heart of where the country meets Germany and Belgium. From the moment you set foot in Maastricht, you feel a unique energy and dynamism of history, art and culture. “And when TEFAF - one of the biggest and most influential art and culture fairs - lands in the city, you can feel an extra layer of chic,” says Leontien Mees, managing director of Maastricht Marketing. The name Maastricht comes from the Latin ‘Mosae Trajectum’, meaning ‘crossing over the Meuse’, which refers to the 54  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

bridge over the river that the Romans built here around the first century AD. The city has been inhabited ever since, and today, it is the city in the Netherlands with the largest number of different nationalities among its inhabitants. “All these international influences from then and now are visible in the historic buildings and elegant houses, where you will find a rich variety of architectural styles from the early Roman period to the Maastricht Renaissance.” It also brings a whole lot of art and culture, which can be witnessed during the annual TEFAF (14 to 24 March).

TEFAF & the City Founded in 1988, TEFAF is a not-forprofit foundation which runs three fairs internationally in Maastricht and New York, as well as a programme of initiatives designed to enrich the global art community. TEFAF is one of the most influential and dynamic arts organisations in the world. Each year in March, TEFAF Maastricht provides a showcase for around 275 leading international dealers. In the MECC, the main exhibition hall for TEFAF, visitors can indulge themselves in 7,000 years of art and art history. “One of the highlights is an original 18thcentury doll house, exhibited by John

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Endlich Antiquairs,” reveals Mees. Koopman Rare Art brings another unique piece: The Shield of Achilles by Philip Rundell. And you certainly must not miss the portrait of Frédéric Maurice de La Tour, the 17th-century Governor of Maastricht, exhibited by The Weiss Gallery. The exhibition in the MECC is far from the only highlight. Before, during and after TEFAF, the city of Maastricht is buzzing with expositions, art installations, theatre and music. Take the visual arts haven the Bonnefanten Museum, for instance. Besides their own amazing collection, the museum is running the exposition Someone in my house by American artist David Lynch, which can be visited until 28 April.

Vrijthof One of the most famous places in Maastricht is the Vrijthof square in the middle of the old city. Throughout the Theater aan het Vrijthof. Photo: Alina Frieske

year and especially during TEFAF, this is the place where you find everything from amazing food and drinks, to performances at the Theatre on the Vrijthof, where during TEFAF there are various dance and classical music recitals, including shows by the South Netherlands Philharmonic and the Maastricht Conservatory.

ent boutiques. There, you will also find Dominicanen, the most unique book shop in the world, situated in the former Dominican church. “Even if you are not out looking for books, it is an absolute treat to stroll through the store and drink a cup of coffee there.” Strolling through the cultural quarter ‘Sphinx kwartier’ and the Frontenpark are also an absolute must.

Across the theatre on the Vrijthof you will find another of Maastricht’s historical gems: the 11th-century Basilica of Saint Servatius, named after the first bishop of the country. This is one of the oldest churches of the Netherlands. Besides the amazing chapel, the basilica also holds a treasure room, containing the shrine in which Saint Servatius has his final resting place.

“Maastricht and TEFAF create special encounters between people with a love of art, culture and the beautiful things in life. And they can fully enjoy themselves during, before or after their visit to the TEFAF.” The city and surrounding region are always brimming with high-profile exhibitions, theatre and music productions, breathtaking dance performances and special events. “The perfect place to relax and enjoy culture, art and life.”

Just around the corner there is a vibrant shopping centre with well-known high street shops, as well as independ-


Bonnefantenmuseum. Photo: David Lynch

Theater aan het Vrijthof. Photo: Conservatorium Maastricht

Theater aan het Vrijthof. Photo: Arno Paul

TEFAF. Photo: Loraine Bodewes

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Archive Bridge.

Photo: © Al Hajem

Mayor Ahmed Marcouch. Photo: © Al Hajem


The deep scars of war TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

The city of Arnhem is known as the backdrop of Operation Market Garden, the airborne mission which would stop the Second World War but resulted in an unseen bloodbath and defeat. For its citizens, the battle was just the prelude to a severe winter of famine and uprooting. In September 1944, the troops of Nazi Germany stopped the Western forces on their mission to resolve the war once and for all. The Rijnbrug in Arnhem became the battlefield for one of the most gruesome passages in the already black book of the Second World War: the battle of Arnhem. Thousands of losses on both sides of the river ended with the Brits and Poles waving a white flag, prolonging the war for another nine months. That is where the military transcripts stop. For the city of Arnhem, however, the worst had yet to come. “The battle left Arnhem in ruins,” says Ahmed Marcouch, mayor of Arnhem. “The city never really was a target. It was just unfortunately located on the route to the Ruhr Area, where they wanted to defeat Hitler. Arnhem paid the price for Europe’s liberty. 56  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

90 per cent of all buildings were destroyed and the Nazis ordered our citizens to evacuate the city immediately.” Packing nothing but the bare essentials, the villagers of Arnhem left. Most of them expected to be back home soon, but it would take until the armistice, nine months later, for them to return. “People found shelter but lived in close quarters, sometimes even in a shed or a henhouse. The long war made food and coal scarce, resulting in a long winter of extreme famine and frostbite, taking thousands of lives.” With the liberation, the people of Arnhem returned to their hometown. Yet, all they found there was a collection of rubble and bombshells. “While the Netherlands was celebrating their regained freedom, people here were collecting the junk. Even today, 75 years later, we still aren’t finished. The scars of the war are still noticeable in the streets and the people.” Since 1945, Arnhem has always paid their respects to the heroic veterans and the suffering citizens. Initially, in a more traditional memorial with the Polish and British

veterans and the involved ambassadors present, and since 2014, during the annual Bridge to Liberation Experience (20 September 2019), an evening of culture on a floating stage on the Rhine. By walking the liberation route, visiting an Airborne museum or exploring the scars in the city and its surrounding villages, you can immerse yourself even more in the tragedies that have been. “After 75 years, the people of Arnhem are finally starting to come to terms with their past and dare to dwell on the traumas of the evacuation. This city will carry the mark of its history for a long time to come. You can get people out of the war, yet, getting the war out of people is harder to do.” Web:

Photo: Chiel Eijt

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‘The Stonehenge of the Netherlands’ TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: HUNEBEDCENTRUM

Looking for a faraway trip on a shoestring? Then travel to the Stone Age this year. At the Hunebedcentrum, the first farmers are still afoot, and the biggest dolmen of the Benelux rises from the ground in all its glory. “Dolmens are tombs from the Stone Age,” explains, Harrie Wolters, director of the centre. “Ours is about 5,000 years old.” The mystical structures, which you can find all over Europe, exist out of at least three monoliths: two on the ground with a third one on top. Afterwards, the dolmen builders used to construct a hill of soil

over it. Nowadays, only the robust skeletons remain. “The building of the dolmens was a turning point in human history. Up until then, they were nomads, roaming the land. That our ancestors decided to settle and build these complex structures, is incredible. They had to be innovative to get the stones in place, and collaborate a lot. We have tried to build one ourselves and we’ve failed. This is the Stonehenge of the Netherlands!” Besides the impressive colossus, there is much to explore in and around the Hunebedcentrum. In the museum, you find dioramas, games

and films. Outside, in the Prehistoric Park, you meet the dolmen builders in their reconstructed village, where they show and tell you all about their era. In the magnificent Hondsrug UNESCO Geopark and the impressive stone garden, you can enjoy the best nature has to offer. “Companies are also more than welcome here. Our auditorium and restaurant can be rented for lectures and congresses and the centre is the ideal getaway for an unforgettable day of team building.” Web:


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Car and motorcycle enthusiasts will not disagree: motorised vehicles can be breathtaking. Yet, out of all their parts, the engine is rarely the piece that dazzles us with its allure. Eric Van Hove’s art pieces are an exception to that rule. With the help of artisan hands from all corners of the world, he creates beautiful power machines, which he now exhibits in the Fries Museum. The story of Eric Van Hove is one without borders. The Belgian artist spent many years in Algeria but has spent a fair share of his youth in Cameroon as well. “Eric is not of one nationality,” explains Eelco van der Lingen, curator of the exhibition at the Fries Museum. “This is obvious in 58  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

his art, which is neither European, nor African, but ‘glocal’. It talks about the impact of local tendencies on the global reality.” Throughout his oeuvre, Van Hove mixes his fascination for craftwork with the symbol and catalyst of industrialisation: the engine. He removes it from its context and duplicates it by hand. “This creates a paradox, since engines and crafts are each other’s opposites. You assemble something by hand which will afterwards replace the manual work itself. Where engines turn, crafts die.”

Fenduq Nevertheless, Van Hove’s work is no critique on the way we manufacture things today. It merely highlights the nature of our modern production methods. “You

can almost draw a line on the world map between the industrialised west and the crafty south,” Van der Lingen illustrates. “Here, we hardly manufacture anything by hand anymore, whereas in most developing countries it is the standard.” Therefore, Van Hove has assembled a big team of different artisans in Morocco to build the machines with him. Each of them can count on decades of experience and lots of talent. In his workshop, which he calls Fenduq, he and his team push the boundaries of what crafts can manufacture today. “Last year, the Fries Museum has purchased ‘D9T’, one of Van Hove’s biggest engines. The original D9T-engine was designed for a bulldozer by Caterpillar, for the construction industry. Yet, it became infamous when restrictive regimes

Discover Benelux  |  Top Art & Culture Spots in the Netherlands in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

used the powerful machine for clamping down protests. The parts Van Hove picks out to recreate always carry a history with them, they always have something beastly.” His reproduction of the D9T consists of 290 separate parts in 46 different materials. No less than 41 artisans contributed to completing this magnificent treat of engineering.

Direct impact on the world Yet, aesthetics are not Van Hove’s priority. As a contemporary, conceptual artist, his focus lies on telling a story to his audience. “With their big size and incredible details, his works are, of course, beautiful and attractive. But for him, they have to transcend that. They have to have content.” With his art rooted on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, he is making art for a very diverse audience as well. Not only do the levels of taste and style vary broadly, but also the way we consume art is different. “Here in Europe, we expose his work in the sacred, nearly sterile environD9T.

ment of a museum. A place where people take their time to observe it without any distraction. In Africa, you hardly find any museums. There, art is simply enjoyed on the streets. That immediately gives meaning to his pieces, since they also have a direct impact on the world outside the walls of cultural temples.” This impact is very noticeable with his work ‘The Mahjouba Initiative’, a social art-project in which Van Hove and his team create a handmade, electric motorcycle for the Moroccan market. In his characteristic crafty and collective way, he and an army of artisans join forces to create five prototypes which will eventually lead to the design of one ultimate Moroccan bike that will be manufactured manually on a big scale.

The Fryske Motor “Throughout the next year, while he exhibits in the Fries Museum, Van Hove will also work on a piece inspired by our region: Mahjouba. Photo: © Meriem Abid

Friesland. This has always been a district of artisans and farmers. Nowadays, however, we only perform crafts for the sake of nostalgia. We manufacture the objects our ancestors have been producing for centuries, but we don’t innovate anymore.” That is why Van Hove will create The Fryske Motor (The Frisian Engine), a handmade replica of a forest harvester’s engine as they are used by the local farmers. Besides Frisian craftsmen, Moroccan, Swedish and Indonesian artisans will create pieces for it as well. “All of them perform the same endangered art form: crafts. That connects them, whether they do it in Marrakesh or here in Leeuwarden.” Explore Eric Van Hove’s work yourself from 2 February 2019 to 5 January 2020 at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.


Photo: © Ruben van Vliet

Dorigin. Photo: © Eric Van Hove

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Art & Culture Spots in the Netherlands in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Corrie ten Boom showing the entrance to the tiny hiding place – where six people hid for 47 hours before they were rescued.

Astonishing story of family that hid Jews during WWII TEXT: KOEN GUIKING  |  PHOTOS: CORRIE TEN BOOM HOUSE FOUNDATION

The extraordinary story of the Ten Boom family, devoted Christians who offered shelter to Jews and others in need of protection during World War II, now lives in an impressive museum in Haarlem. By opening up their home to those hunted down by Germany’s Nazi regime, the Ten Booms knowingly put their own lives at risk. But they felt it as their duty to help ‘God’s chosen people’ and those who were on their side. The Ten Boom House, where father Casper ten Boom and his daughters Betsie and Corrie helped to save dozens of lives during Nazi occupation, has been a museum since 1988. When inside this old building, guests can begin to imagine what it must have been like to hide and 60  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

live here. The museum tells the story of courageous peaceful resistance, incredible selflessness and devotion, but also of the immense dangers that were looming outside. It vividly illustrates how the refugees and family members in the house prayed and sang together and how the Ten Booms, whose clock and watchmaking business was on the ground floor of the house, would use code language to converse with allies. They would, for instance, request a certain part for a watch that was just brought in, meaning they actually needed help to find shelter for yet another refugee. Despite all the safety precautions, the Ten Booms were eventually sold out to the Nazi regime by a Dutchman who had come to their home saying he needed money to help a Jewish family. Corrie ten

Boom fell into the trap, offered to help and asked the man to come back in the evening. German secret police then ransacked the house. This betrayal, as well as the miraculous escape from death of four men and two women whom Corrie ten Boom hid in a secret hiding place moments before she got arrested, have been well documented. Corrie ten Boom lived to tell the tale and her book The Hiding Place has been translated into over 60 languages. She has travelled the world to spread the message that ‘God will give us love and forgive our enemies’.

Unable to visit the museum? Take the virtual tour on:

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Robert de Hoog


The voice of a new generation Having already worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Jude Law, not to mention numerous collaborations with theatre genius Ivo van Hove, Dutch actor Robert de Hoog has been known on the international acting scene for some time now. Revered on both stage and screen, he was even nominated for an International Emmy Award when he was just 20 years old. Now aged 30, De Hoog’s star is continuing to rise, with the hugely successful television crime drama series Mocro Mafia and an upcoming performance in acclaimed director Simon McBurney’s production of The Cherry Orchard this spring. We caught up with the Leiderdorp-born actor, who passionately explained why he plans to use his success to nurture a new generation of acting talent. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: JANEY VAN IERLAND

prospects, or a life with money. Unfortunately lots of kids are choosing the latter option - with fast money and quick death.”

“When I was six I wanted to be James Bond,” recalls De Hoog, who was raised in South Holland in a family home that was brimming with culture. The actor remembers sneaking into the library as a child and watching You Only Live Twice on the video player, despite his father telling him he was too young to watch it. “I was amazed,” grins De Hoog, whose acting ambitions were consolidated when he was cast in the hard-hitting Dutch film Skin, about a teenager who gets involved with a group of neo-Nazi skinheads. The film was critically acclaimed, and even saw De Hoog receive an International Emmy Award nomination for his role as the troubled Frankie. The actor also scooped a prestigious Golden Calf for best actor at the 2008 Netherlands Film Festival, placing him among some of the awards’ youngest ever recipients. “I thought, ‘well now it’s becoming serious, and I really love this: I think I should do this for the rest of my life’.”

recent passion projects is the phenomenally successful drama series Mocro Mafia, about a group of friends - Romano, Potlood and De Paus - who transition from petty crime to harder crime, and eventually run Amsterdam’s entire cocaine trade. Jealousy grows and their friendship falls apart, with De Paus, together with his old school friend Tatta (played by De Hoog), going to war with Romano and Potlood, and turning the Dutch capital upside down in the process. “I love that show because I created it with friends. We started it all from nothing,” he explains. “Mocro Mafia is not a title we made up, it’s the name for a group of people who are selling drugs on the streets of Amsterdam. They are really well known in the Netherlands because they are on the news all day long - ruthlessly shooting each other in the streets in broad daylight, killing the wrong people by mistake…

A balancing act

Mocro Mafia

“We wanted to make a show about it. There are young people who have the choice between a life seemingly without

From the grittiness of Mocro Mafia, De Hoog was happy to get some comic relief with his role in the Dutch comedy series Soof, playing Victor - love interest to

Now aged 30, De Hoog has not lost any of his love for the arts. One of his most

Mocro Mafia is one of the latest Dutch crime series to make waves, following on from the internationally successful Penoza (Black Widow), about the wife of a drug-smuggler taking charge of the family business. However, the shows could not be any more different. “Penoza is like a romantic version of crime, whereas Mocro Mafia is almost like a documentary,” explains De Hoog, pointing out that many of the show’s stars had no formal acting training. “For many of them, it’s the first time they’ve ever acted. They represent a new generation, and I think that’s why people love the show so much. It’s a new way of creating drama.”

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Robert de Hoog

grateful for, and he is now using his status to help today’s youngsters engage more with the arts. “I’m trying to create a company that gives the opportunity to younger people to create for films or write for films and television,” he reveals. “When you start out in acting you might make a film and have some success, and then four years later you make a second film, and in between those four years you aren’t doing anything. So I’m trying to create a company where talented young people can just sit there and write stuff - just to keep them working and developing their talent.” Robert de Hoog (left) starred alongside Jude Law in Obsession. Photo © Jan Versweyveld

the show’s titular character. “When you do something so heavy, like Mocro Mafia, it’s in your body and in your mind the whole time. Soof came along and I was really relieved because it’s so sweet. It’s a different view on life, and I really love the combination of doing something very difficult and then something sweet and all about love. I love that balance,” smiles the actor. De Hoog also enjoys the variety of switching between screen and stage, and will tread the boards this June in Simon McBurney’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in Amsterdam. “What I love about theatre is the fact that the actor has to do something for his audience in one evening. With film, it’s a little bit like cheating - you do your part as an actor, but then the editor does his part and he can create a completely different character to what you intended.”

Obsession, and got to know the city’s various neighbourhoods. “I love multiple areas of London,” he enthuses. “I love Camden for the music and the vibe. I also loved where we lived, near London Bridge. The area around Bermondsey Street is wonderful.” Some of the actor’s earliest theatrical memories are in London, as he recalls his parents taking him there to see Billy Elliot the Musical as a child. “I was raised in a family where there was so much love for culture - everything from books, and classical music to opera - even musicals.”

Giving something back

De Hoog is particularly keen for this project to help upcoming talent from varied sectors of society. “It’s very important, in my view, that it’s very diverse. I want to find people who wouldn’t normally have such an opportunity because they aren’t in the ‘right scene’ or they don’t have a big network. “I really hope it succeeds because so many talented young people are sitting on the couch doing nothing instead of making films. I don’t know if I have the power to really change things, but I can do my best,” he concludes. “I want to give something back, and create an environment where stories can be told from all corners of society.”

Having had such a culturally rich upbringing is something De Hoog is extremely

De Hoog’s other theatre credits include Ivo van Hove’s Obsession, which he starred in opposite Jude Law in London. “That was such an amazing experience,” smiles De Hoog. “I’ve been working with Ivo for over five years now and just living in another city, working with an English actor doing his play, it was a very special experience for me. Jude is such a fantastic performer.” De Hoog spent three months living in the English capital during his time starring in 64  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

A scene from the Videoland RTL series Soof. Photo © Martijn van Gelder

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination



Create reality from your imagination The future is now. Over the course of the last few decades, man has achieved many things we did not expect would be possible until years to come. All the modern techniques we have now, allow us to manufacture next to anything out of thin air. The biggest milestone on this exciting road of innovation must be the invention of the 3D-printer: a fully-fledged production method with seemingly endless possibilities. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS


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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination


We may not realise it, but we all encounter additive manufactured products every once in a while. Eager to innovate, more and more companies are opting to print certain parts of their products over the traditional methods of casting and milling. Therefore, the toys of your children, certain parts of your car or even the crown on your tooth can just as well be a product of this marvellous technology.

A new era Though additive manufacturing is still very young, the industry has already made giant leaps in expanding the possibilities of the process. No longer are plastics the only material you can print


with. The technology for metal and ceramic printing is highly advanced as well, and taps a multitude of new markets. The technology of printing with biocompatible materials, on its turn, even puts the industry of medical devices and dental equipment on the brink of a new era. Whereas today, the production of custom-made implants and prostheses cost handfuls of money to both patients as well as governments, an equally qualitative product can be printed for just a fraction of that price.

Step into the future

rather daunting. With all its technical jargon and lightning-fast innovations, the universe of 3D printing is best explored with an expert by your side. Together with you, they explore the available options and pinpoint what would best match your specific needs. They help you look right through the sales pitches and past the shiny looks of the machines and focus solely on product features. We have selected the Benelux’ most reliable salespeople and manufacturers of printers and accessories, who can let your business print its way into the future as well.

Clearly, navigating yourself through the world of additive manufacturing can be

Digital Dot.

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The future of measuring TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: GOM

The era of tactile measurement is far behind us. Companies looking for a future proof measuring system, opt for the reliability of 3D-scan technology. With the aid of two cameras and their proper software, GOM is globally renowned as a most reliable and innovative partner for measuring technology. Industrial manufacturing is an exact science. Any discrepancy or tiny flaw can disrupt an entire production line or can result in an inferior product rolling off the assembly line. Therefore, data is king in the production industry. GOM is the ideal partner to help you gather just that. “As a firm, we specialise in 3D-scanning and testing equipment,” Wim Cuypers, sales manager for the Benelux branch, explains. “We provide state-of-the-art software and 68  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

hardware, both of which we create ourselves, and which therefore cooperate seamlessly.”

Digital twin Implementing 3D-scanning in your company, rather than traditional tactile measuring, has many advantages. While measuring up free forms and complex geometries, for example, the old method is inadequate since it only measures one point at a time. A 3D-scan, on the other hand, registers all the points of an object in no time and creates a digital twin of the artefact on which you can perform your calculations and measuring. Afterwards, you can save the digital copy and its data on your computer as irrefutable evidence. If you later on decide to perform some additional measuring, your scan will be there

at your service, even if the original physical product has shrunk or set out a few millimetres because of the temperature or humidity. As products become more complex by the day, the demand for 3D-scanners has increased significantly. “Additive manufacturing allows companies to create very complex shapes. To showcase the functionality of those printed parts, clients can not only use our 3D-scanners for checking its dimensional quality but also our 3D-testing equipment to evaluate strength, heat resistance and other crucial parameters.”

Plug-and-play By setting high standards for themselves, GOM has increased the accuracy that

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

their products can achieve astronomically. Many factors can influence how exact your digital twin turns out. Reliable data quality is very important. Vibrations of a truck, passing on the street can result in irregularities in the data. “Not only do we use the best cameras, but we also use two of them per scanner,” Cuypers states. “This way, the sensor monitors itself, allowing it to have the most reliable data quality. As an extra guarantee, it also checks the calibration itself.” “It is true that implementing customised systems like these can cost you much money, effort and time. To avoid this, we also offer multiple standardised models, or Scanboxes, which can be introduced effortlessly. They come in different sizes, for a variety of uses and sectors, and in gradations, from easily controllable to expert level. Either way, they are plug-and-play devices that are operational in no-time.” This opens doors for smaller companies for whom the cost of the machines, the start-up, or the operator, was too high till now. Scanning technology is no longer a privilege for the biggest in business.

Industry 4.0 While gazing into the future, Cuypers still sees many interesting challenges for his innovative company. “The industry is on the brink of entering Industry 4.0 and we are ready for it. We are designing methods to interlink our products to an internal network and make sure our software is future proof. We have also introduced the GOM CT, computer tomography to scan underneath the surface of an object as well, and also capture its internal channels and parts. Progression is important to us, but we also want to keep offering simpler solutions for companies with tighter budgets or less complex needs. Our software can already read CAD-files, yet we make sure it remains compatible with older 2D- and 3D-files as well. A revolution to Industry 4.0 happens on the assembly lines of the production companies. But, when they decide to join the movement, we are more than happy to help and facilitate them wherever we can.” Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

The new era of metal 3D-printing TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: VALCUN

Though most 3D-printers use plastics, the production industry holds many opportunities for metal additive manufacturing as well. Today, however, the enormous price tag and the slow building rates prevent many companies from taking the leap. The Flemish start-up ValCUN is about to change that. They are creating an affordable and fast metal 3D-printer which delivers top-notch quality.

“In 2014, I was developing a rocket engine in my spare time,” ValCUN founder, Dr. Jonas Galle, explains. “I did everything myself: from calculating the data to creating the design, as well as the manufacturing of its components. During the milling of the complex main engine’s parts, I started to understand the benefits of metal 3D-printing. Diving deeper into it, I was shocked by how expensive the technology was. I found it hard to believe that 70  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

it had to be that expensive.” Triggered by this factor, Galle started investigating the causes of such a high price and how they could be avoided or replaced. This resulted in the creation of his disruptive technology and the founding of ValCUN. To date, most metal additive manufacturing systems use a very fine metal powder that is spread out layer per layer, and molten with a high-power laser. This method is very slow and asks for lots of unnecessary extra metal powder, an expensive product which must be stocked carefully to prevent powder explosions or people inhaling it. “We threw all of this overboard, dared to take a big step back and asked ourselves: ‘How can we make it economically competitive?’. We came up with a patent-pending technology that combines the advantages of both low-cost plastic printing (fused deposition modelling) and plasma cutting technology, and baptised our Molten Metal Deposition. We melt raw

metal and extrude it through a nozzle on a preheated surface, just like a pastry chef does with molten chocolate.”

Recycled metals ValCUN’s technology has several advantages over the existing ones. Since metal gets molten prior to printing, it is unnecessary to use expensive metal powders. Instead, you can opt for standard metal wires, raw metals or even recycled ones. You can throw old or broken parts into the

ValCUN-cofounders Dr. Ir. Jonas Galle and Dr. Ir. Jan De Pauw

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

machine to print brand-new ones with that material. “Right now, we focus on printing with aluminium,” explains co-founder Dr. Ir. Jan De Pauw. “With its excellent heat conductivity, it can be used in many industries for cooling or heat exchange applications. Afterwards, we will adapt our printers to work with other metals as well, like copper and stainless steel, for example. We also want to collaborate with our clients to discover what their needs are and start from there.” Another advantage of ValCUN’s printer is its speed, which is significantly higher than the

current state of the art. “What slows them down is its layer-per-layer powder deposition, typically just 20 to 100 micrometres at a time. We don’t do this. Therefore, we can obtain speeds similar to automatic welding which is over ten times faster,” Galle points out. “Thin layers are beneficial for fine details but are a waste of time for the sections of the objects on which high precision is not required. In addition, current printing methods require post-processing, like support removal, threading or smooth finishing. However, the lion’s share of production companies is not interested in such high precision on the entire part. To improve its

speed, ValCUN lets its printers add the finishing tools such that post-production time can be reduced. Since the parts aren’t surrounded by unused metal powder, it is easier to sand or mill off the rough edges or faces in the same device while the rest of the object is still being printed. This way, when you take your object out of the machine, it can be entirely finished. Therefore, the industry is better off with our faster and more economical alternative.”

Small-medium corporations and hobbyists Though their technology is still in development, a share of companies already see opportunities in a collaboration with ValCUN. Especially for the creation of parts that eject heat, the technology is highly anticipated. “In industries like plastic moulding, dissipating the heat generated in the process is vital. The quicker you get rid of it, the more profitable your production line becomes. Since aluminium is very conductive, it is highly suitable. The same applies for the creation of heat sinks for electronic devices, power electronics and battery packs for, among other things, electric cars. By printing these items, companies will be able to work faster and at lower costs than they can even imagine today.” ValCUN aims for a go-to-market printer in Q3 2021 with a price tag of around 50,000 euros, well below the 200,000 to one million euros you pay for today’s technology. The ambition, however, is to drive down this price throughout time and, eventually, offer a basic model for about 5,000 euros. “This way, we reach the initial goal I had in mind while building my rocket engine: making metal additive manufacturing affordable for hobbyists and medium to small corporations and welcoming them into the future of production.” Web:

TOP LEFT: “You can throw old or broken parts in the machine to print brand-new ones with its material.” BOTTOM LEFT: A ValCUN-printer can print a fully finished object out of a variety of materials. BOTTOM RIGHT: Lei at al., internat. Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer 127 (2018) 396-412

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Buying a 3D-printer is not as easy as it looks. The big and diverse market knows massive differences in price, quality, type and complexity. Trideus, Europe’s biggest all-round supplier of 3D-printers, helps you pick out the model that suits your business like a glove. ‘A 3D-printer is a 3D-printer’, you might think. Yet, Jesse Buteneers, founder of Trideus, respectfully disagrees. His massive online and offline business is specialised in providing companies with the best printer for their needs. “The world of additive manufacturing is very diverse,” he explains. “You can find basic models for just 200 euros and professional machines with a price tag of over three million. The trick 72  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

is to find the one that does what you want it to do, but not more.” Though Trideus only offers printers from 2,000 to 300,000 euros, the variety is still dazzling. To ease up the selection process, they offer you the help of their specialised consultants. “First, we get to know our clients, their businesses and their aspirations. Then, we pinpoint what features they are likely to use and from which they won’t benefit. That already narrows it down a lot.”

ented product. Therefore, it is very interesting for businesses to get advice from someone who isn’t linked to any of those specific brands, but wants to sell you the ideal machine instead.” Their client base surpasses the borders of sectors too. Not only factories like car or plane manufacturers use it: plumbers, for example, use it to print specific shapes of pipes and

For many sectors With 12 different brands of printers on the shelves, Trideus is the biggest autonomous supplier in the Benelux. “Our clients benefit from that,” Buteneers emphasises. “Those brands aren’t direct competitors of each other, but all offer their own, pat-

Jesse Buteneers.

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

old-timer devotees can even print those car parts that are not available anymore. The possibilities are endless, yet, you need the right printer for your specific goal. “Our arsenal exists out of plastic-, metal- and ceramic printers. What suits you best depends on your plans. Will you make pretty prototypes to show to clients or should your result resist the heat of a car engine running nearby?” A promising evolution in additive manufacturing is its use in the medical sector. Trideus has a special department for the dental industry with specialised consultants. “The big advantage of 3D-printing over the classic methods of manufacturing is that you can quickly and cheaply create unique pieces. A prosthetic tooth is a good example of that, since it will only fit in one mouth. With special printers and biocompatible materials, we can already print temporary crowns as placeholders until the final crown arrives. If this technology keeps developing, we might be able to print the real crowns in a few years.” This could make dental care considerably more affordable in the future. Today, the production of night braces costs about 180 euros. If printed, this could be pushed down to just three euros, or one and a half per cent.

and rethinking what is best for them.” Those who want to, can also lease a printer from Trideus, giving them more flexibility. If you only have to 3D-print every now and then, you can consider asking Trideus to print it for you. In their professional print shop, they manufacture their clients’ objects on demand. “Some companies, like designing offices, only need a printed prototype a few times a year. For them, it can be more economical to outsource this task to us, rather than buying a printer themselves. We also specialise in printing in industrial plastics, which can resist heat, for example, and making sizeable prints, like objects of a cubic metre.”

In the future, Trideus aims to become the number-one reference for additive manufacturing in the Benelux. “Our service sets us apart from other suppliers. We understand what companies are going through while implementing 3D-printers in their plants. Therefore, we provide trainings for working with the specific hard- and software, and assist with maximising the positive impact the technology can have on your company. More than just a supplier, we are a partner and ally in lifting your business towards the 21st century.” Web:

Print on demand Naturally, the implementation of additive manufacturing in your company is a process. The model you buy today to experiment with will not necessarily be the one that sticks. “We always follow our clients on their journey. Usually, companies start by buying a smaller, cheaper model to experiment with. Half a year or a year later, they come to buy a second or third printer, or they decide to scale up to a more advanced model. We advise them on their path of growth by evaluating their needs

Ultimaker S5.

Desktop Metal prints.


HP JF 580.

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A new dimension for professional print service providers TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: DIGITAL DOT

It takes just one phone call and a printer running into issues will be working again within a day. That is the strength of Digital Dot, a professional service for emergency repairs, maintenance, inks and consumables for super-wide format digital printers. “As soon as we hear about a machine with issues, our technical team jumps in the car to fix it,” says Sofie Demeyer, co-manager of Digital Dot. Super-wide format digital printers contain many delicate components that can cause unexpected problems. To minimise the impact of this, Digital Dot in 74  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

Belgium delivers a one-stop-service to resolve them, usually on the same day. Demeyer says: “Clients want to have a single number to call in case of a problem or a need. We offer that service, from ink top-ups to technical support and regular maintenance schemes. We also have a large stock of spare parts as well as second-hand equipment.”

the fractured and costly technical support offered by the printer manufacturers was often not responsive or flexible enough, especially in case of an emergency. Filling that gap in the market, Digital Dot set out to offer a quick, reliable and personal service to many businesses in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Setting the bar for the industry

Super-wide format digital printers

Digital Dot was founded in 2007 by Nico Desmedt, who, by then, had already earned his stripes in the digital printing industry for several years. He found that

Digital Dot focuses on super-wide format digital printers, with a printing width of two to five metres. “They typically produce billboards, adverts, shop interior

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

elements, truck tarpaulins or printed panels, canvasses or any other surface you can print on,” Demeyer says. Digital Dot also offers ‘Digital Dot Certified’ printers. She adds: “We completely recondition second-hand machines so they are effectively as good as new, but for a far lower price. It can be a great solution for a printing company that does not have the budget to buy a brand-new digital printer.”

Taking on a new dimension

Another impressive feature is the speed at which the machines print. Demeyer: “A life-size perfume bottle of 1.20 metres tall can be completed in about two hours. You can also print custom channel letters, as you can use any font, shape or form imaginable, soft signage frames or thermofolding moulds.” Having sold the Benelux’ first Massivit 3D-printer to 3D Next Level last year, Digital Dot is proud to announce the sale of a second machine in the Netherlands. “As we are based in Belgium, we are also

Recently, the company has ventured into a new field. In 2017, Digital Dot became the official Benelux sales partner of Massivit, a company that builds large 3D-printers aimed at the visual communications market.

really happy to announce the first sale in Belgium to 3Motion. These early adopters of this innovative 3D-technology are well aware of the added value this will bring to their current business. Demeyer is looking forward to a busy year. “Besides being the official Benelux sales partner of Massivit, we are now also honoured to host a dedicated European demo centre which Massivit opened last month” Web:

Sofie Demeyer and the team at Digital Dot are only one phone call away.

“These printers are the only ones in their class,” says Demeyer. “Instead of using the well-known plastic filaments, the machines print with a liquid, semi-transparent gel that instantly hardens under UV exposure. The gel does not need any support construction and its opaque nature allows for light to shine through.”

Bespoke 3D retail design Demeyer: “The mission of print service providers is to make their customers stand out. Imagine how adding a 3D element to a 2D campaign can boost the visibility of a customer.” There are endless applications for product displays, fairs, promotional campaigns and event props.

The Massivit 3D European demo centre Located in the cradle of Belgium’s large format 2D-printing sector the new centre will showcase Massivit 3D’s innovative, large format 3D-printing solutions. Based next to Brussels’ main airport, it is easily accessible with close transport links. It will provide a central location for Massivit 3D’s extensive European dealer network to host potential customers who are keen to test out the creative possibilities that large format 3D-printing technology delivers. They will be able to

investigate the synergistic services that can be developed and added to their existing offering. On site, visitors can experience live 3D-printing sessions on both a Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D-Printer and a Massivit 1500 Exploration 3D-Printer and witness the unrivalled print speed of up to 35 centimetres(13.7 inches) per hour on the Z axis.

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  75

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Additive Manufacturing  |  Create Reality from your Imagination

The Q20 Arcam printer, based on EBM Technology. With Serkan Yildiz (operations engineer), Geert De Donder and Ewald Goossens

This tool is printed to help in a brazing process, where channels are printed in the tool for cooling purposes.

Combined pinion, rack track assembly. This shows the AM possibilities. Photo: Jan Peirs

This is a demonstrator with a diameter of 300 millimetres, which show the capabilities of the EBM printer by minimal use of supports and no deformation.

This drawing gives an idea of the capabilities on design, design for functionality and design for AM. BMT Additive does their own strength analysis in order to create functional parts which meet the customer’s requirements.

Beyond conventional metal production TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: BMT ADDITIVE

The benefits and implications of 3D metal-printing are numerous. So numerous, that many companies and designers cannot yet oversee all available options. BMT Additive sees it as their mission to help their customers discover these possibilities and use them as input for their product development. This integrated approach is crucial to ensure the maximum value of additive manufacturing. BMT Additive is a subsidiary of the BMT Group, a longstanding giant in the field of engineering services and high-precision metal components. BMT Additive is the only company in Belgium that 3D prints titanium products for external use with Electron Beam Melting technology. They work with clients in the aerospace and transportation sector, and also co-create industrial machinery and equipment. “Co-creation is the best method to use in the 3D-field that is still growing from its infancy,” says Geert De Donder, business development manager at BMT Additive. “We offer design, printing and finishing to come up with a tailored design for functionality, the selected printing technolo76  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

gy and finishing steps. This makes us a unique partner for our customers.” 3D metal additive manufacturing creates new possibilities in several industries. For instance, General Electric Company has recently presented the game changing Advanced Turboprop engine, which reduced 855 parts to just 12, by using additive 3D-printing technology. This means less part interfaces, leading to an improved performance. Furthermore, the engine weighs less, is more durable, and has a simplified logistic. “At the moment, our plant is mostly research and development orientated,” says Ewald Goossens, business unit manager at BMT Additive. “We make titanium parts like brackets, valves and sprockets to the highest standards applicable in the industry sectors. At the same time, we are investigating the possibilities of aluminium, high-strength stainless steel and Inconel alloys. Industrial 3D metal-printing is only just getting started, and we are at the forefront of the development.” BMT Additive works together in several consortia to qualify for big aerospace pro-

jects. All the produced parts are subjected to stringent testing, including 100 per cent inspection. Results typically surpass clients’ expectations, due to the expert knowledge and experience available within the company. “I sometimes call us ‘the Steve Jobs of 3D printing’,” smiles De Donder. “20 years ago, nobody imagined what the possibilities for the smartphone would be, and look at them now… The same applies to 3D printing, the possibilities are endless!” Web:

Typical hybrid solution. This part consists of two parts: the body in titanium, and the gear ring made out of S82 British steel. The titanium body is printed, where the gear ring is manufactured in the conventional way. The total concept gives a 40 per cent weight saving. Photo: Jan Peirs

Discover Benelux  |  xxx  |  xxx





A tribute to Berwick TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

I should have written this article months ago so you could get to the York Theatre Royal pantomime last Christmas. Berwick Kaler has played the pantomime dame in York for the last 40 years. He writes, co-directs and stars in the show, which runs from mid-December to the start of February. Tickets go on sale in March - there are queues - and the pantomime provides the financial basis for the rest of the theatre’s year. Now, at the age of 72, Kaler is hanging up his wig for good. Every year for four decades, the York panto has provided a unique theatrical experience. I have never seen such strong rapport between an acting team - the other main players have been at it for almost as long as Kaler has - and a diverse, packed audience ranging from tots to nonagenarians. Whole families have been going together decade after decade. The atmosphere is drenched in laughter. Kaler is one of the great panto dames. He does not wear inches of make-up, nor camp it up, nor write smutty jokes

– he does not need to. He has a ‘sixth sense’ for a joke and perfect timing, according to the theatre’s artistic director, Damian Cruden. Surreal costumes and an incomprehensible plot are the order of the day. But what is the relevance of this to business? I usually write about simple rules of thumb to help bosses manage better, reduce stress and raise productivity. Watching Kaler this year made me reflect on what really good leaders can achieve.

At the end of the performance I attended just before Christmas, the audience stood for five minutes and applauded the man who has given so much pleasure, so generously, for so long. It was moving and sad. We can all learn from the personal and leadership example of Berwick Kaler.

Kaler is an exacting professional and working for him is not a bed of roses, but he has the respect of his team as well as the love of his audience. He is supremely good at his job. His natural warmth puts people at ease. He approaches people non-judgmentally. He inspires loyalty. Every performance is a feel-good experience. More than this, and remarkable in these times of social atomisation, he and his team have contributed to a sense of community, belonging, and pride within the city. People come together at the panto; divisions are overcome.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their leadership and communication skills for working internationally:

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  77

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


Management Summit teaches you how these two things can combine and can even elevate each other. Business leaders and politicians present a series of fascinating lectures on how the earth and the environment can become your most important business partner.

FITC Amsterdam 2019. Photo: © David Carson

ShowUP 3-4 February, Amsterdam, the Netherlands With its light, welcoming atmosphere, ShowUp is more than just a gift and design fair for shop owners. It strives to inspire all those who stroll through the corridors, searching for original and unique items. Besides retailers, many journalists, bloggers and influencers come to peek at what more than 350 suppliers and designers have to offer. 6-8 February, Kortrijk, Belgium The era in which factory automation was exclusively for the big players is far behind us. Many smaller companies introduce robots in their plants to prepare themselves for the future. is the perfect place to get familiar with the possibilities of these metal employees and to find yourself the perfect partner.

Unleashing IoT for Digital Transformation 11-12 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Now that everyone and everything is plugged into the world wide web, it is 78  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

important for business leaders to follow this digital stream. The internet of things comes with a multitude of business opportunities to improve, save and evolve. This congress shows you the tip of the iceberg of possibilities and helps you to implement them in your business.

Sustainability Impact Management Summit 14-15 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Running a profitable business and running a sustainable one should not be mutually exclusive. The Sustainability Impact

FITC Amsterdam 2019 18-19 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands FITC gathers marketeers, technologists and creative spirits for a ground-breaking congress on innovation, design and much more. Some of the world’s biggest experts take the stage to share their vision on a rapidly changing sector. During the many workshops and the opening party, you can socialise galore and perhaps meet your future colleague, partner, employee or boss.


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Profile David Vandenbeginne.

An essential address for entrepreneurs in Belgium TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: BUSINESS CENTER

David Vandenbeginne, an influential figure in the Belgian business world, has founded one of the country’s most successful business venues: Dilbeek Business Center. Vandenbeginne’s ascent has been impressive. This corporate director knows how to make the most of the laws and benefits of the country’s different regions. For example, the Flanders region enjoys considerable flexibility among the selfemployed, with companies benefitting from a strong entrepreneurial climate. Would you like to grow your business in the province of Flemish Brabant? The team at Dilbeek Business Center can help you make the most of the region’s outstanding business potential. “We can help you in all aspects of creating your business,” says Vandenbeginne, CEO of Business Center. He founded Business Center about a year ago to help small independents as well as multinationals with the creation and domiciliation of their firms. The company have helped entrepreneurs from various countries and sectors get started. “There has been such a high demand, from all different types of people, ranging from electricians and construction companies to diamond brokerage com-

panies and real estate to hospitality companies. It’s so rewarding getting to meet people from varied industries. Not only does it open many doors, it shows how many different people are having their projects realised.” Vandenbeginne works with the best lawyers and accountants in the region as well as the SNI (syndicat neutre des indépendants) in order to provide clients with all available elements and offer the best protection related to their needs. The Business Center team helps companies become familiar with business law specific to the Flemish region, which is very different from that of the French-speaking region. The Flanders region grants many advantages for independent businesses, making it more favourable to create a business in Flanders. If you need help or advice with the creation of an SPRL or an SCRI, Business Center’s expert team will be happy to help you in all your steps, guiding you and helping you make the right decisions. Located just off the motorway in Dilbeek, and with public transport links just ten minutes from Brussels city centre and 15 minutes from the airport, Business Center could not be better placed. Modern facil-

ities are equipped with the latest technology and a large projection room. A stateof-the-art co-working space and private offices are also available. Everything is there to create your business and have it domiciled at Business Center, with advice available at every step. Business Center can accommodate various budgets and offers a range of services according to the needs of each client. Various competitively priced packages are available. For example, it is possible to have a registered address at Business Center from 89 euros per month, without any long-term commitment.

Many advantages in Flemish Brabant for your company: Sales and purchases, they take care of everything Benefits include a registered address, meeting room, private office, and much more. Everything is made available at one unique address.

For more information, visit: You can also connect with Business Center on Facebook or Instagram.

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  79

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann


The sweet smell – and taste – of success TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON  |  PHOTOS: PÂTISSERIE HOFFMANN

Luxembourgers like the finer things in life. Master pastry chef and entrepreneur Jean-Marie Hoffmann has built a very special business that aims to provide not just the fine, but the finest. In his youth, Jean-Marie Hoffmann dreamed for a time of becoming a surgeon, but decided that such a life was not for him. Given the meticulous attention to detail demonstrated in his creations, his growing business empire, and his tireless drive to improve both, it is very possible he would have made a mighty medic. The path the now 51-year-old Hoffmann chose was to become a great pastry chef, learning his craft with some prestigious names before deciding that it was time 80  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

to launch his own operation. “I looked seriously at Venice Beach in California as an option, but it wasn’t right for me or what I do.” He wondered about Dubai too, but finally saw that home was best. “Luxembourg has great gastronomic traditions, it’s an ever-more prosperous place where people are willing to pay for the best, and where they appreciate what top quality is,” says Hoffmann, “Like the French, eating well is a part of our culture, our heritage.” Thus, in 1991, he opened his first shop in Bonnevoie, making a name and setting it on the firm financial footing that enabled him to open a second, in Alzingen, in 2001. Making a name for himself included, in 1996, coming second in the

pastry-chef world championships in Paris, the perfectionism that yielded that result reflected in the products in his shops – ices, sorbets, chocolates, delicate pastries, gâteaux… “We set the highest standards and use the best materials, including flour and fresh cream and milk from Luxembourg; but we also search the world for the topmost

18 Avenue de la Porte-Neuve L-2227 Luxembourg.

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann

quality ingredients, like cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and Madagascan vanilla.”

A grand expansion For some people, that relatively simple business would have been enough, especially as it evolved into what is very much a family concern: “My wife has been very important to the company since the start, and my daughter Kelly joined after she became a master pastry-chef. And now my son Dustin is working on the marketing side,” he says. But Hoffmann had other ideas. As 2017 ended, it was announced that his company was acquiring the 16 shops, restaurant and production premises of long-established Luxembourg rival Schumacher, investing 16 million euros into upgrading their facilities. “We changed overnight from around 30 employees to 230,” he states, “And to be able to achieve what we want to do with the business, we expect to increase that to 280 or 300 before too long.”

produce, this is something that takes a very special approach – and Hoffmann is appreciative of production director Michael Weyland. “The scale of the operation, with 18 shops, and many catering companies and other outlets in addition, could be seen as industrial,” Hoffmann says, “But this has to be artisanal, what we do is a craft with so much done by hand, reliant on human skill rather than machinery.” And Hoffmann has no intention of losing what has always been – and remains – the trump card of his business: “If I have a new idea, if we come up with a new product say, we can make it happen – and at the highest level of quality – within the day.” It is a philosophy that matches the nature of the business. In the restaurant, the mouth-watering menu du jour is now

truly du jour, changing daily and using the best seasonal produce. The wraps, sandwiches, quiches and salads that form the savoury basis of the traiteur business are truly fresh. The chocolates beneath their glass counters in the shops are miniature works of art, the great classics occasionally joined by new creations; and it is the same too with the pastries, handmade, as enticing on the shelves as they will be later in the day on the tables of Luxembourg’s discerning diners. The whole team is working tirelessly, and it is working successfully too. And they share a vision: “Our goal is to be one of the big names in our sector, not just in Luxembourg but beyond too,” Hoffmann concludes. Web:

The bakery business is known for its anti-social hours, but to integrate the two parts and oversee the new investment projects Hoffmann has gone further, actually installing a camp bed in a windowless broom cupboard next to his office in his new production facility in Wormeldange, and spending most nights there.

Fresh ideas, fresh investment, fresh products Even early on in the process, the signs were positive, sales good, and a good reaction from the workforce was evident. Because of the nature of what they

CEO Jean-Marie Hoffmann.

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  81

Discover Benelux  |  Culinary Profile of the Month  |  TERO Restaurant

The tastiest and healthiest food in Belgium TEXT: LORENZA BACINO  |  PHOTOS: TERO

Many of us struggle to find the right balance between healthy eating and tasty food, and are often disappointed by the austere options on offer. TERO restaurants (in Brussels and Bierges) have set themselves the challenge of serving delicious food whilst remaining as close to nature as possible. Their mission is to ensure customers experience a great taste adventure and enjoy the benefits of a healthy meal to boot. “We serve up a wide selection of small hot or cold dishes made for sharing, a bit like Middle Eastern mezzes and including vegetarian and meat options that vary depending on the season,” explains manager Arthur Lhoist. Ideally, guests choose two to three dishes each to share. Prices are reasonable and range from seven to 16 euros per dish. At TERO, you are sure to experience healthy eating without compromising on the taste and the pleasure of enjoying food with friends. 82  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

From farm to plate

Over the counter

Most of the produce originates from TERO’s very own organic farm (La Ferme des Rabanisse), near Rochefort in Belgium’s beautiful Ardennes region. Each week, an assortment of seasonal, locally sourced vegetables is delivered to the restaurants and transformed into tasty, healthy meals. Nothing has to travel very far, ensuring it is as fresh as can be.

Delicious products are also available to buy over the counter. The homemade Zaatar, served with a drizzle of olive oil, is perfect for dunking your bread in. Or how about trying the cinnamon-flavoured sugared almonds with your tisane or coffee?

The TERO team aims to be as transparent as possible by respecting the land and its produce, as well as making sure everything is sourced and prepared according to precise tenets. All the meat served at TERO originates from local breeders who share the same values - namely the wellbeing of the animal and the respect of the land. All fish is sustainably sourced from the Atlantic ocean and only natural sugars made from dried fruits, syrups, honey and cane are used. The pork is free-range and only grass-fed from the farm.

Meals can be delivered within certain areas with the help of Deliveroo, so ask for more details. Web:

Château de Vianden.


Captivating castles With beautiful countryside, picturesque villages and regal châteaux, Belgium and Luxembourg are home to some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes. Here, we present two of the most captivating castles these countries have to offer. Château de Beloeil.

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

Amaryllis exhibition.



Sometimes the best treasures are not necessarily in the most obvious places. This is certainly the case in Belgium, where tucked away in the Hainaut region, to the south of Brussels, lies one of Europe’s most spectacular castles. Known as ‘the Versailles of the North’, the magnificent Château de Beloeil is surrounded by a moat amidst more than 60 acres of parkland complete with lakes and ornamental gardens created by a student of André Le Nôtre - designer of Louis XIV’s gardens at Versailles. Originally built as a medieval fortress, the Château has been the residence of the Belgian Princes de Ligne since the 14th century and although it is open to the public, it is still home to the current, 14th Prince – Michel. The Château’s lavish interiors house not only priceless tapestries and antiques but also a superb art collection. Paintings date from the 15th to 19th century and include royal portraits by renowned German

court painter F.X Winterhalter. There is also a vast, wood-panelled library with some 20,000 books.

I find special about Beloeil, says His Highness the Prince de Ligne, “is the beauty, the peace and tranquility here.”

One of the highlights of the year at the Château is the annual Amaryllis Flower Festival – from 27 April to 5 May 2019 (open daily from 10am till 6pm). Held in conjunction with the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens in Holland, this spectacularly colourful event showcases around 10,000 artistic flower displays and installations ranging in style from traditional to contemporary.

The Château is open to the public at weekends and Bank Holidays in April, May, June and September, from 1pm till 6pm. In July and August, it opens daily from 1pm till 6pm. Group guided tours are available in English, French, Dutch and German.

August 17 will also see the return of Les Féeries de Beloeil – the Château’s muchloved night of illuminations, music and fireworks, this year with choreography and staging by celebrated Belgian artistic director Luc Petit, known for his work with the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Disney.

Beloeil’s richly furnished drawing rooms can also be hired out for events, with space for 100 people, whilst the library, conference room and chapel lend a unique grandeur to conferences, gala dinners, receptions or theatrical performances. Web:

Throughout the rest of the year, the Château is a wonderful place to while away an afternoon, admiring the sumptuous interiors and ornate gardens. “What Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  85

Discover Benelux  |  xxx  |  xxx

Photo: Jengel


Visitors to north-eastern Luxembourg’s magnificent Vianden Castle will find it hard to imagine that this architectural testament to a thousand years of history was once brought close to ruin. Perched on a precipitous hill above the pretty town it once defended – and ruled – Vianden Castle today is a breathtaking sight, as it was for centuries as the seat of noble families connected to some of Europe’s most powerful rulers. And it is not just the exterior that captures the imagination – inside the great walls, the rooms, both dynastic and domestic, are equally eye-catching. That would not have been the case in 1977, however, 86  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

when work began to turn the tide of long decline, to restore a site that had been of strategic and cultural significance for more than 1,500 years.

Roman roots “We know, and archaeological evidence has shown, that the story here stretches back to a fort established on this site in Roman times, in the fourth and fifth centuries,” says Jessica Ersfeld, Chef de Personnel at the castle. “And afterwards, the politically powerful Counts of Vianden lived here from the 11th century until the beginning of the 15th. The site as it stands now, evolved over the centuries from the 11th to the 17th, when a Renaissance

mansion was added, so our story is a very long narrative indeed!” Between the Roman era and the 11th century, when the castle as it now stands began to take form, there were many other fortifications – layer upon layer of history. “It is our duty now to protect this amazing heritage, and to communicate it to the many, many thousands of visitors we receive here through the year,” says Jessica. Enormous efforts and great investment have gone into restoring the castle to its current glory after a period of decline that began with its sale in 1820 to one

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Castles in the Benelux

Wenceslas Coster, a merchant who began to dismantle and sell whatever he could – roof tiles, copper gutters, leadwork, panels and beams. Exposed to the elements, the remainder was allowed to rot until, in 1977, the state took it over. Now, thanks to the Herculean efforts of the national monuments service and the Friends of Vianden Castle, the damage has been reversed.

Telling the story “We want people to really enjoy their time here, and to get the most out of their visit,” says Jessica, “and a visit can easily last up to three hours.” As you would expect, there is a comprehensive audio-guide system available (including one for smartphones) to explain the major features and the flow of history; a cafeteria where visitors can refresh themselves; and a shop, newly opened, for souvenirs and materials to expand on the experience. But most impressively, there is a dramatic information centre where you can enjoy audio-visual presentations and, thanks to its stunning design, take in the atmos-

phere of a thousand years of life within the walls. In 2013, a dossier was presented to UNESCO with the aim of having the castle and town of Vianden added to the organisation’s World Heritage List. Although the candidature was rejected in this instance, the experts involved in compiling the information found both the fortress and the settlement represented remarkable cultural elements which deserve protection and preservation. The castle evolved over centuries, providing visitors with a huge range of sights and architectural styles, from Medieval to Renaissance, taking in even the Byzantine (an elegant gallery), and what can be seen today, which continues to evolve. “We have just been working on the ancient well, there is more restoration work underway in the lower chapel, and we are constantly changing aspects of the furnishings and décor,” Jessica adds, “so that even those who have visited previously will always find new things

to see, though of course, major elements like our famous tapestries are permanent fixtures.” The mission to bring people to Vianden means that throughout the year there are concerts, festivals (the medieval festival that runs from 27 July to 4 August this year is the 18th such event), and exhibitions – children may be keen to experience the one covering caricature and cartoon culture – that benefit from the superb setting and facilities. And there is even the possibility of arranging private celebrations in places as atmospheric as the vast cellars or the banqueting hall. “It really is a wonderful and living space,” says Jessica, “And like our predecessors, we are continuing to make improvements.” It is hard, however, to see how it could be possible to improve on the view – wooded slopes, high walls and fairytale turrets – with which a visit begins. Web:

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  87

Amro World Tennis Tournament.

Out & About Do not be fooled by the lower number of days: even in February, the Benelux offers you plenty to explore and experience. While hiding from the cold snap, comfort is provided in the shape of steaming-hot coffee and delicious chocolate. Once outside, you can bump into a ‘Gilles de Binche’ or gaze at mesmerising light art. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Salon du Chocolate.

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Comic Con. Photo: © Miguel Discart

Art Rotterdam 7-10 February, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Get ready to meet the cultural prodigies of the Netherlands in their natural habitat. At the annual art fair of vibrant Rotterdam, galleries open their doors and provide a platform for young, promising artists. Enjoy their refreshing and rebellious style and you might even end up buying one of their masterpieces.

ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament 9–17 February, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Once a year, the living legends of the tennis world gather in Rotterdam for one of the world’s biggest indoor tournaments. Among others, the German superstar Alexander Zverev and Croatia’s Marin Cilic will throw their rackets into battle to take the much-desired cup home with them.

Bright Brussels 14-17 February, Brussels, Belgium On the coldest nights of the year, the people of Brussels leave their cosy homes for an illuminated walk through the city. 11 extraordinary light installations create a glowing route throughout the centre, accentuating iconic as well as hidden monuments. Join the enor-

mous crowd to shiver with excitement. www.visit.brussel

Paul Kalkbrenner 15 February, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg When he and his brother Fritz topped the global charts with their monster hit Sky and Sand, Paul Kalkbrenner became one of the world’s most important techno producers. Luxembourg might well be in for a big treat, given that the German musician is most celebrated for his live performances. Get lost in his beats and dance the cold winter out of your body.

All the Rembrandts 15 February – 10 June, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Alongside Vincent Van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan, Rembrandt van Rijn dominates Dutch art history. In 2019, 350 years after his death, his work is the centre of attention in many thematic expositions in all corners of the Netherlands. Het Rijksmuseum, home to his most famous work, The Night Watch, celebrates his iconic repertoire by hosting the biggest Rembrandt exhibition ever; with 22 paintings, 60 drawings and 300 of his most beautiful prints on display.

Art Rotterdam. Photo: © Joost de Leij

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  89

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Moose Bar XXL 16 February, Antwerp, Belgium You do not have to go skiing to deserve some après-ski. This winter, Moose Bar opened pop-up après-ski bars in all Flemish cities, blowing some mountain air throughout the low countries. In February, they scale it up and organise a night of ‘Tiroler-madness’ in Belgium’s biggest arena. Strap on those lederhosen and order some schnapps while getting wild to the live tunes of DJ Ötzi, the musical legend behind the evergreen Anton Aus Tirol.

Bright Brussels3. Photo: ©, Eric Danhier

Moose Bar.

Photo: © Anima Festival

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Salon du Chocolat 22–24 February, Brussels, Belgium 8,000 square metres of cacao pleasure: that is the best way to describe this annual chocolate fair. Located in the capital of chocolate, it is no surprise that this is the best place to find the finest pralines, bars and cups of hot cocoa. Belgium’s greatest pastry chefs and chocolatiers will be present, as well as models running the catwalk in chocolate couture.

Anima 1–10 March, Brussels, Belgium In the birthplace of animated superstars like Tintin and the Smurfs, Anima showcases the best animation films of the past year. Besides its competitions for national and international shorts and feature films, the festival is known for hosting immersive experiences like the animation night: a binge-watch session of 50 short films that will keep you occupied from the evening until the break of dawn.

Moose Bar.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Amsterdam Coffee Festival 1-3 March, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Though coffee used to be no more than a necessary caffeine boost, many worship the black gold today as if it was a religion, vital to their daily routine. During the first few days of March, Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek becomes a temple for those devotees of cold brews, latte art and more coffee-drenched experiences. Drop by for a masterclass, a tasting or just to enjoy a steaming-hot cup of joe.

Comic Con Brussels 2-3 March, Brussels, Belgium Once a year, villains, heroes and other bizarre creatures gather in Brussels to show off their outfits and make new friends. Cosplayers from Belgium, abroad or even a galaxy far, far away, stroll around the fair or get in line for a picture with their idols. This year, among others, Bonnie Wright (Harry Potter’s Ginny Weasley) and the man behind the Chewbacca-suit join the party.

All the Rembrandts.

Paul Kalkbrenner. Photo: Olaf Heine

Carnival of Binche 3-5 March, Binche, Belgium Though carnivals come in all colours and sizes in the Benelux, few are as iconic as the one in Binche. Besides the colourful wagons and costumes, the traditional ‘Gilles de Binche’ steal the show. Folklore states that these masked men with feathers on their heads and stuffed orange suits fertilise the soil again and scare away demons. In 2003, UNESCO added this whimsical parade to their list of intangible cultural heritages. Gilles de Binche. Photo: © Mich Verbelen

The Amsterdam Coffee Festival. Photo: © Gary Handley

Salon du Chocolate.

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  91

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Carnival

St. Maarten.

Parading through the Benelux TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Forget Venice, forget Rio: if one region knows the ins and outs of the world’s most bacchanal celebration, it is the Benelux. Once a year, both big cities as well as small towns go crazy on the costumes, parades and confetti, traditionally as a last escapade before the sober period of Lent kicks in. Breda 2 March – 5 March Breda, the Netherlands In the Netherlands, the traditionally Catholic south goes wild for Carnival. For three days straight, the city of Breda becomes Kielegat, 92  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

an Eden for all those who like to party, dress up and scream along with Dutch evergreens. The festive spirit echoes through the historic streets and bars while the parade meanders through the crowded main roads.

come, given that they have been around for six centuries or more. UNESCO even granted them the title of Intangible World Heritage, and we happily second that opinion.

Binche 3 March – 5 March Binche, Belgium Immerse yourself in a sea of orange and white during the folkloristic parade through Binche. The iconic Gilles might remind you of the Italian Comedia del Arte, but are as Belgian as they

Aalst 3 March – 5 March Aalst, Belgium Aalst is the home of ‘de voil jeanetten’, featuring grown men in trashy women’s clothing who often wear a lampshade on their head or push a stroller ahead of them. Together

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Carnival with the many satiric floats, they give shape to Belgium’s biggest carnival. Welcome to the temporary court of Prince Carnival.

Maastricht 3 March – 5 March Maastricht, the Netherlands The carnival of Maastricht is a full-option one. The three days of madness contain parades, floats, comedy, dances and - the biggest attraction of them all - ‘de zatte hermeniekes’ (the drunk harmonies). These brass bands parade through the city from one pub to the next, guiding the partygoers to their next pitstop. Symphonies are often lost on them, since loudness overrules all artistic aspirations. The carnival even grants awards to those bands for playing the most ‘off-tone’.

Stavelot 30 March – 31 March Stavelot, Belgium On the fourth Sunday of Lent, the small city of Stavelot traditionally awakens to celebrate Laetare, one crazy intermezzo in the middle of the fastening period. The protagonists of

the parade are the Blancs Mousis, ghostlike characters in white robes with large red noses. Instead of talking, they communicate through guttural noises, while showering the many spectators in confetti.

Maaseik 3 and 31 March Maaseik, Belgium Maaseik celebrates carnival twice a year. Once before Lent and once at Laetare. That last one is one of the oldest carnivals in Belgium. Or, if you ask a local, the oldest. Manuscripts from as far back as 1575 describe the frivolous festival which is still a must-see for all those visiting the region. During the first carnival of the year, however, you can witness the absurd ‘kloonjestoet’: a parade with nothing but clowns.

Sint Maarten 20 April – 17 May Sint Maarten The last and biggest carnival of the season is organised in the far south of the Dutch Kingdom. On the Caribbean island Sint

Maarten, the carnival is the biggest celebration of the year. Many parades cross the tiny islands with an amount of feathers that would make even Rio De Janeiro jealous. And the best thing of all: the party lasts for no less than 33 days this year. For the 50th anniversary of the festival, they will organise the longest carnival marathon the island has ever seen. Let the Caribbean rhythms, flavours and moves take you over this spring for one last blast of carnival craziness.

Biche. Photo: © Mich Verbelen



Breda. Photo: Esther Hereijgers Fotografie

Aalst. Photo: © Gert Swillens


Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  93

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  KANAL-Centre Pompidou


This new cultural hub in the Belgian capital is hoping to woo visitors from now until 30 June 2019, with a series of carefully curated exhibitions and live performances that will give contemporary art a whole new meaning.

temporary setting, inside a former Citroën garage. “This unique setting only lasts until 30 June and gives a new lease of life to a building that has stood here in Brussels for decades,” says Yves.

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Brussels is home to a wealth of attractions, but if there is one not to miss, then it is the city’s new KANAL-Centre Pompidou. “Brussels is an important place for contemporary art and we needed a place to house it all,” says museum director, Yves Goldstein.

One exhibition not to miss is Children’s Games, made up of a series of short videos that explore the childlike activity of play, through the use of visual inventory. Francis Alÿs, the Belgian artist behind the exhibition, focuses his exploration on the varied uses of public space, such as towns and villages, places of rest, and zones of conflict or suspense.

The KANAL-Centre Pompidou is set to become the largest cultural institution (museum for modern and contemporary art and architecture) in Brussels when it opens definitively in 2023, with more than 41,000 square metres of exhibition and recreational space. Thankfully, visitors do not have to wait until then to experience it, as the KANAL-Centre Pompidou is offering a 13-month preview (it opened on 5 May 2018) of different exhibitions at their

Another highlight during a visit to this temporary museum space is the Home Movie Factory by Michel Gondry, which invites you to produce your very own film in a specially recreated studio. But there are so many more things to discover during these last months which will blow visitors’ minds: the design exhibitions Red & White and Phantom offices, Ericka Beckman’s Super-8 Trilogy; the mind-blowing Mere Constructions or the architecture exhibi-

94  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019

tions Miscellaneous Folies, As Found and As Seen… and many more. What sets this cultural institution apart are its live shows, taking place at least once a month between now and June. One not to miss is The Night of the Unexpected, a co-production with the Klarafestival. During the performance, the public moves from one small concert to the next, asking themselves whether technology can really save us. So what are you waiting for? There is so much to choose from that the only difficulty you should face is knowing when to visit. For more information on the museum, visit:

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  CIVA and Musée de la Photographie

Highlighting the eclectic history of Brussels’ urban spaces, landscape and architecture CIVA is a museum, an archive centre, a library and a place for architecture and landscape architecture enthusiasts to meet. Based in Ixelles and Kanal-Centre Pompidou, the centre’s mission is to spread the Brussels region’s exceptional architectural and landscape history with the public. CIVA is the main architecture and landscape centre in Brussels, organising exhibitions, lectures, guided tours, book launches and children’s activities throughout the year. Designed Landscapes, which runs until 31 March 2019 in Ixelles, is an exhibition that puts forward new perspectives on the landscape of the Brussels region, from 1775 to the present day. Through original documents and photographs, the exhibition allows visitors to discover the rich history of parks and public gardens in Brussels. Another unique exhibition, As Seen – Photographies d’architecture is running until 30 June 2019 at Kanal–Centre Pompidou, and

highlights the best contemporary Citroën garage buildings, built between 1927 and 1941, chosen from CIVA’s archives by Belgian photographer and artist Philippe De Gobert. Catering to the whole family, CIVA’s Cité des Enfants is a permanent exhibition, designed for children and adults alike. Through interactive lessons, educational games and drawings, it traces the history of architecture and urban planning in Brussels from the 19th century to the present day. “Brussels is one of the greenest cities in the world, but surprisingly, the city’s heritage is not well known , even among many locals. Our mission is to share information and highlight the wonderful, rich and eclectic history of Brussels,” says Ursula Wieser Benedetti, director of the garden, landscape and urban ecosystem department at CIVA.

Web: Facebook: civabrussels Instagram: @civabrussels

TOP: Edouard Keilig, Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, 1862-1867. Vue from Chalet Robinson. Old postcard. Photo: © Coll. CIVA, Brussels. BOTTOM: Parc Porte de Ninove. Photo: © Bruxelles Environnement / Bruxelles mobilité / Beliris / Arcadis / Base / Suède 36

A journey through the history of photography The Museum of Photography, located in Charleroi, is a centre for contemporary arts of the Wallonia-Brussels federation. Situated where the old convent of Mont-surMarchienne once stood, today, it is one of the largest and most important photography collections in Europe, displaying over 80,000 photographs. The museum takes visitors on a journey covering the entire history of photography, from the 19th century to the present day. “The museum’s collection is more historic in the ancient neo-gothic Carmelite convent building, and more thematic in the new contemporary wing. The museum features big names in Belgian and international photography,” says Cécile Druart, the museum’s communications manager. Alongside the museum’s permanent exhibitions, there are also temporary ones; two of which have recently opened. Patrick Willocq’s Songs of the Walés, is a visually and aurally immersive exhibition into the world of the Walés, 96  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019


which is a ‘breastfeeding mother’ ritual and celebration of motherhood, practiced by the Ekonda and Ntomba people in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Willocq lived during his formative years. The exhibition is composed of portraits, installations and a documentary film, all interspersed with the songs of the Walés. Olivier Cornil’s Dans mon jardin les fleurs dansent (In my garden flowers dance) is a narrative exhibition, illustrated through writing and photographs. The very personal work is focused and based around Cornil’s mother and the family circle, set in Corrèze in south-western France, between 2002 and 2018. The exhibition tells a story of breakups, bereavements, tears, laughter and longing. Both exhibitions, alongside Jacques Meuris’ L’expérience photographique will run until 12 May 2019. Web: Facebook: /museephotocharleroi


Walé Asongwaka s’envole. Photo: © Patrick Willocq / courtesy Project 2.0 / Gallery

Walé Bongei, la brillante. Photo: © Patrick Willocq / courtesy Project 2.0 / Gallery

Issue 62  |  February 2019  |  96

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Abbaye de Villers

An abbey steeped in 900 years of history TEXT: NDÉLA FAYE  |  PHOTOS: ABBAYE DE VILLERS ASBL

Founded in 1146, Abbaye de Villers was home to monks of the Cistercian Order for 650 years, until all abbeys were nationalised and sold to individual buyers under French rule. With activities to draw in the whole family, the abbey continues to attract visitors looking for new discoveries, relaxation and serenity. Located in the commune of Villers-la-Ville, Belgium – about halfway between Brussels and Charleroi – Abbaye de Villers (Villers Abbey) is the most complete site of a Cistercian abbey anywhere in Europe. It spans over 30 hectares of land. “What makes the Villers abbey unique is the number of ruins that show us what everyday life at a monastery was like, such as the gatehouse, a prison – which is a very rare sight at a monastery – a guesthouse and a mill, preserved in its entirety,” explains Michel Dubuisson, historian and assistant director at Abbaye de Villers.

Drawing in over 150,000 visitors annually, the abbey is open throughout the year and has activities to suit all ages. There is everything from interactive tours and guided group visits to family discovery walks and activity days, as well as open-air concerts, theatre shows, exhibitions and a medieval festival, organised annually in the region. The abbey also boasts beautiful gardens, full of medicinal plants and space for medi-

tation. “Our medicinal herb gardens include nearly 250 species of plants, devoted to the wellbeing of the body and the mind. Following in the footsteps of the abbey’s colourful 900-year history, the abbey continues to attract visitors looking for a change of scenery, relaxation, and spirituality,” Dubuisson concludes. Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns


Forgotten son returns to Amersfoort After some 350-odd years, Caspar van Wittel is making a glorious return to Amersfoort, in the bumper exhibition MAESTRO VAN WITTEL – Dutch master of the Italian cityscape at Kunsthal KAdE. With the clue being very much in the title, Caspar van Wittel found his great success in Italy, winning accolades for his distinctive cityscapes. A cynic might say that his move to Italy was no surprise: in the 17th century, the

Netherlands was awash with great painters – Rembrandt and Vermeer are some competition. Regardless of whether or not this was a contributing factor in his relocation, van Wittel quickly earned himself a reputation in Italy by pioneering a style known as ‘vedute’, where cities were rendered in painstaking detail. You can quickly recognise a ‘vedutisti’ painting – the equal attention given to each squareinch of canvas makes for a surreal, highdefinition image.


Despite his Italian success, and his influence on painters such as Canaletto, van Wittel remains largely unheard of in his home country. Kunsthal KAdE, along with Museum Flehite, present a major retrospective of this forgotten son, with a great selection of studies, gouaches and iconic paintings - alongside some 30 works by Dutch and Italian masters. It is rare that such an integral and influential part of art history is neglected, so it feels like a homecoming worthy of celebration. MAESTRO VAN WITTEL – Dutch master of the Italian cityscape is on show at Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort until 5 May 2019.

Photo: Caspar van Wittel, Piazza Navona, 1699, oil on canvas, 96.5 x 216cm, © Carmen ThyssenBornemisza. Collection on loan at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

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.


Piraat Piraat is a strong Belgian ale and was awarded a gold medal at the 2018 International Beer Challenge. It was one of six beers brewed at the Brouwerij Van Steenberge that took medals home from London last year. The family-run Van Steenberge brewery was established in 1784 and is located at Ertvelde, approximately ten kilometres north of Ghent. If you are going to be in the area and enjoy participating in brewery tours, contact Van Steenberge a couple of weeks in advance to arrange a look around the modern premises. Tours, lasting two hours, are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It is also possible to taste beers at the site’s Bar Baptist taproom. However, Piraat’s secondary fermentation 98  |  Issue 62  |  February 2019


is a reason to purchase bottles and hold onto them. Over time, the flavours will mature and evolve, from fruity when young to a more complex taste after several months. This amber ale was first brewed in 1988. Yeasts more commonly used in creating wine were utilised to give Piraat its character, and rice also features among the list of ingredients. The result is a beer with a spicy aroma and a slightly sweet flavour that levels out to a crisp, pleasantly bitter finish. A rigged sailing ship is depicted on the label on bottles of Piraat, whose name in English means ‘pirate’. Despite the prodigious strength of Piraat, it does not taste like an overly boozy beer. It pairs well with platters of cheese and hearty soups served with crusty bread and lashings of salty butter.

Brewer: Brouwerij Van Steenberge Alcohol content: 10.5 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.

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