Discover Benelux, Issue 68, August 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents AUGUST 2019








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.

Top Architects in the Netherlands: Designing the Future Pay a visit to any Dutch city and the country’s strong architectural legacy will immediately become apparent. We hone in on some of the country’s top architectural agencies.

A Taste of Flanders Feeling peckish? Our Flanders foodie special is guaranteed to make your mouth water.


France Special Fancy a trip to France? We showcase some of our favourite places in the Benelux region’s most beautiful neighbouring country.

Fedja van Huêt Dutch actor Fedja van Huêt has been captivating audiences ever since he made his breakthrough in the Oscar-winning crime film Karakter (Character) in 1997. This August, he will hit Dutch television screens once again, starring in the eagerly anticipated eight-part thriller series Grenslanders (Borderlands). We caught up with the 46-year-old actor to discuss drama, mystery and his recently discovered French roots.




Holland’s Top Ten Delicacies Dutch cuisine has much more to offer than just cheese, ‘stroopwafels’ and herring. We present the Netherlands’ top ten culinary delights.

Discover East Flanders: Live it. Love it! From vibrant cities such as Ghent to picturesque towns like Oudenaarde, not to mention some of the country’s most stunning countryside, East Flanders has countless gems to discover.


Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  90 Columns

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 68, August 2019

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Debby Grooteman Eline Joling Eva Menger Frank van Lieshout Ingrid Opstad Karin Venema Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Paola Westbeek Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Thessa Lageman

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen

Cover Photo © Bowie Verschuuren

Editor Anna Villeleger

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster

Published 08.2019 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint

Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens Contributors Berthe van den Hurk Charlotte van Hek Chérine Koubat Colette Davidson

Our cover star this month is Dutch actor Fedja van Huêt, star of the upcoming thriller series Grenslanders (Borderlands). The 46-year-old recently appeared on the Dutch version of the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? in a bid to find out more about his family’s past, and was excited to discover a French connection. The charismatic star also spoke candidly about the occasional downsides of life as an actor, and revealed more about his upcoming film and television roles. As oyster season approaches, elsewhere in the magazine we also take a look at some of the Netherlands’ most mouthwatering delicacies. From seafood from Zeeland to Texel lamb, not to mention a refreshing glass of Dutch wine – the vineyards of Maastricht are some of the oldest in the country – we prove the Netherlands’ food and drinks scene is about much more than the famous Gouda cheese and lager.

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

Happy reading!

Phone: +44 207 407 1937 Email:

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 August 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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Welcome to the August issue. This month we have been inspired by the Belgian province of East Flanders, which is home to some of the country’s most picturesque towns and a vibrant cultural scene. In the mood for a French getaway? We hopped across the border to ‘la belle France’ for a tourism special. Meanwhile, back on Benelux soil we present our pick of the finest architects in the Netherlands, as well as a ‘taste of Flanders’ foodie guide.

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Athletic aesthetic If you want to be comfy but still look stylish, we’ve got you covered! The latest ‘athleisure’ trend is taking traditional work-out clothes out of the gym and making them a part of people’s everyday wardrobes. We show you how to get those sporty vibes with our selection of up-to-date activewear. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Go hard Stand out from the pack with this cool tee by Wolf Clothing Brand. This Belgian brand for the modern-day gentleman creates premium streetwear, and this T-shirt has a simple message: GO HARD OR GO HOME. Wolf Clothing Brand, ‘Street Go Hard’ T-shirt, €39.95

Good to go Aimé Leon Dore celebrates colour in all of their collections, and this sporty teal and navy-coloured nylon quarter-zip pullover is perfect for anyone who wants to embrace the athleisure trend and get noticed. Combine with a pair of track pants and you are good to go. Aimé Leon Dore, nylon quarter-zip pullover, €360 Aimé Leon Dore, track pants, €230 6  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Bag it up This fabric gym bag is not only the perfect accessory for training and sports activities, but for your everyday styles as well. Try using this bag with a casual urban outfit, and you will look trendy and chic. Available in red or black. Kooples, gym bag ‘KOOPLES X SPORT’, €118

80s style This windbreaker jacket from Belgium’s Bellerose gives us an athletic feeling with a nod to the ‘80s. We love it worn together with a simple white oversized shirt and denim trousers for a modern and smart, yet relaxed, approach. Bellerose, ‘Horizon’ jacket, €159 Bellerose, ‘Poker’ jeans, €139 Bellerose, ‘Gastoo’ shirt, €99

A touch of retro With their cropped shape, these green joggers embody this season’s trendy, sporty streetwear style with a touch of retro. You can wear these fitted joggers with a sleeveless blouse and a pair of sandals for a casual-chic outfit, or team up with trainers and a hoodie to emphasise the athletic look. Kooples, contrasting band viscose joggers, €178

Great outdoors Inspired by an outdoor theme, the unisex Jamie trainer is constructed in a lightweight and breathable mesh upper. With nods to hiking, the trainer sits atop a rugged Vibram sole unit ensuring that great cushioning goes hand-in-hand with style. Available in orange, khaki or black. Wood Wood, ‘Jamie’ shoe, €240 Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


Out of this world Summer means travelling, and travelling means souvenirs. Whether you stay close to home or roam the world: you will inevitably return with a memento. However, why not invest in something more exotic than a miniature Big Ben this year? With these intergalactic memorabilia, you might as well have been on a city trip to a galaxy far, far away. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


4. Deep space hibernation Three, two, one, ready for launch! With this adorable Rocket duvet cover, your rug rats will be taken off to great dreams in mere seconds. The cover comes in plenty of sizes, allowing parents to transform their room into a launch site too. €60


3. 1. Spacetime In the ever-dark galaxy, night and day are relative. Luckily, the futuristic Graphic Time Dot helps you to keep track of time. Its moonlike disks orbit around the sphere’s core at their own pace, reinventing the concept of clock hands. €195

5. Bright supernova Few pieces of art are as enchanting as the endless sea of lights which we call the galaxy. With its 252 LEDs, the Raimond Tensegrity Floor Lamp mimics this mesmerising view. Dim it to your liking and let your house bathe in its soft glow. €3,200

3. Elegant alien After shooting plenty of fauna into space, it is time to spruce up the eternal nada with some blossoming joy. This heroic astronaut vase takes your flowers to the moon and back. €74


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2. Atmospheric sphere Just like the moon reflects the sun’s light at night, the Ilumi Glow reverberates its bright glare until long after sunset. The mystical dots in the glass dome charge themselves with sunlight or when the lamp is on, and release their blue magic once darkness falls. After three hours, the last sparkles die out as well, letting the darkness take over. Price on request


Rode Donders, Almere. Photo: Jody Ferron


Designing the future From Gerrit Rietveld to Rem Koolhaas, not to mention Herman Hertzberger and Wim Quist, some of the world’s most celebrated architects hail from the Netherlands. Both nationally and on a global scale, Dutch architects continue to make their mark with their pioneering approach to building. In the following pages, we showcase some of the country’s top architectural agencies. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: AMSTERDAM&PARTNERS AND NBTC

Zuid by night. Photo: Roel Baeckaert

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

La Defense, Almere. Photo: Geert van der Wijk

Innovation Due to the country’s unique topographic situation, the Netherlands has long been a hub for pioneering architects. The necessity of being protected against water means that Dutch architects have become experts in the management of water and land. Java-eiland. Photo: Koen Smilde

Space Every square metre of land needs to be put to good use in a densely populated country like the Netherlands, and Dutch architects are renowned for coming up with highly efficient plans which make perfect use of the available space.

Experimentation Dutch architects have an international reputation for their original designs. From Berlin to New York, they have made their

mark across the world. Meanwhile, if you pay a visit to any Dutch city, the country’s strong architectural legacy will immediately become apparent.

Avant-garde From the capital city, whose canal houses are famous the world over, to avantgarde destinations such as Rotterdam, the architectural highlights are endless. In the latter, you will find architectural

gems including OMA Timmerhuis and the Erasmus bridge. 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.

Katterugwoningen. Almere. Photo: Geert van der Wijk

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

NBTC HOLLAND MARKETING’S ARCHITECTURAL HOTSPOTS We spoke to NBTC Holland Marketing about the significance of architecture in the Netherlands, and they told us their top five destinations for design aficionados:

Doesburg and works by Thijs and Evert Rinsema in the form of furniture, paintings, and other art expressions, as well as an extensive collection of publications on De Stijl and Dada. Van Doesburg was the founding member of the De Stijl art movement which began in Leiden in 1917.

Utrecht – Rietveld Schröder House

Schiedam – giant windmills

A 20th-century architectural gem and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Rietveld Schröder House is a must for lovers of modern architecture, De Stijl, or just the quirky. Designed by Gerrit Rietveld, one of the founding members of the De Stijl, it became the architectural showpiece of the movement. It is globally recognised as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space.

A city famed for its jenever production, made possible by its soaring windmills. Holland and windmills are synonymous, however, Schiedam is home to the world’s tallest windmills. These giants loom above the city, with some reaching 33 metres. Only six of the area’s original 20 windmills have survived.

Rotterdam – a contemporary architectural gem

Drachten – Van Doesburg-Rinsema House Drachten is the city in which Theo van Doesburg realised his first big commission, designing colour schemes for a complex of 16 middle-class homes, and one of these homes is now a museum that is open to the public. The residence illustrates how De Stijl influenced both interior and exterior design. On display in the residence are the design drawings of Van 12  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

A city that is home to bold, innovative contemporary architecture including floating pavilions, OMA Timmerhuis and the iconic Erasmus bridge. Wander through the city and you will soon be overwhelmed by some of its unusual buildings. This includes the Kubuswoningen that were built in the 1980s, a a series of unusually shaped homes inspired by the cubism art movement. Another, more recent addition, is the equally stunning Markthal, completed in 2014. The arch of the building houses over 200 apartments and is also beautifully decorated on the inside.

Amsterdam – a historic hub Amsterdam’s canal houses are famous the world over and with good reason. Dating from the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam’s oldest houses, with their ornate gabled façades, are a national treasure. Many of these stunning examples of architecture can be found around the city’s 17thcentury Canal Ring. The Canal Ring is a UNESCO-designated world heritage site.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Erasmus bridge.

The Rotterdam skyline.

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De Zalmhaven. Photo: Kaan Architecten, ZCV.


‘Starchitects’ against their will, father and son Cees and Diederik Dam hold fast to their design principles of comfort, commitment and freedom. “It’s about creating beauty in its entirety.” Started in the 1960s as Cees Dam Architects and renamed Dam en Partners Architects in 2002, father and son Dam have, under different guises, been responsible for a wide range of projects, stretching from complex urban developments, theatres, town halls and hotels, to luxurious residential homes, interior design and furniture. 14  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Cees Dam has been a household name in Dutch architecture for more than five decades, famous for iconic buildings such as the Amsterdam Opera and City Hall, the Optiebeurs building (now the home of Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad) and the House of the Future. Since his son Diederik joined in the 1990s, their firm have handled some of the most prestigious projects in Holland’s modern urban landscape, including the country’s two tallest towers, Maastoren and Zalmhaventoren in Rotterdam, as well as Almere Town Hall and, most recently, the Hourglass

Building in Amsterdam’s Zuidas financial district.

Icons Yet, despite their impressive output of unmistakably iconic buildings, both father and son Dam ironically have a real problem with the current demand for ‘iconic’. “Every time we are approached for the design of a large office project, one of the first demands on the list is that it must be iconic,” Diederik explains, of his frustration. “Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing intrinsically bad about a building being an icon, but first of all, the

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

environment needs to lend itself to such a building – for instance, Amsterdam’s Eye Film Museum on the banks of the IJ, or the Maastoren on the banks of the river Maas in Rotterdam – and secondly, it needs to be more than just iconic, it needs to do more than just shout ‘look at me!’.” “Iconic for iconic’s sake is an empty shell,” adds Cees. “Look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York. They don’t come a lot more iconic than that, but it was never set out to be iconic, it just is. The cylindrical form is functional and the building fits in perfectly with its physical environment. This is how it should be done, a textbook example of great architecture.” “Likewise, our Hourglass Building did not spring from a sudden flash of inspiration to design a building resembling an hourglass,” says Diederik. “Its shape is the result of a functional design to stack a mix of different sized hotel rooms and office spaces. It’s not empty form, but a building that actually adds something new to the urban landscape.”

Comfort Rather than flying to the far corners of the world to sell their flash designs to the

Hotel and housing Zaandam.

big corporations like some of the current breed of starchitects do, Dam en Partners choose to stay true to their trusted architectural design philosophy centred around their rich notion of comfort.

all this, throughout all our designs, the common thread running through them has been our constant search for what we have dubbed ‘comfort’.”

“Comfort is about a subtle interplay of space, materials, light, sounds and smells, which together are perceived as pleasant and luxurious, bringing enjoyment and wellbeing,” Diederik explains. “Our firm’s work is very diverse and very contextual, and Cees and I are also very different types of architects – I am more analytical and strategic, while Cees has a more intuitive approach – yet despite

“Comfort has many layers, and the search for it is like a great adventure,” Cees points out. “First and foremost, comfort means creating an intrinsically poetic environment that provides room for personal expression and interpretation, a flexibility and a sense of abundance that lend the user the freedom to use and perceive the space according to their own needs and insights. It is almost like chasing a


Hourglass Amsterdam.

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

NRC Handelsblad. Photo: Luuk Kramer

dream. In order to find the right balance between all the elements, the mediation between the interior and the exterior, the relationship to the environment, you need to use not just your standard architectural skills, but the whole of your emotional range, your intuition and experience, as well. This is why architecture will always in some way be rooted in tradition and craftsmanship. And why things like art, theatre and ballet are such an inspiration to our work. Art takes you away from this

fleeting world. It protects you against the chaos of everyday reality and gives you focus and direction.”

Social process “And we need art to take the client along on this journey, to hold a mirror up to them and show them the possibilities they might otherwise not have dared dream of,” Diederik argues. “Architecture is not about some genius creating a brilliant solution to everything in splendid isola-

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy The Hague. Photo: Luuk Kramer

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tion. It’s a social process involving the architect, the client and other stakeholders.” In this process, Dam en Partners see it as their duty and mission to be involved from start to finish. “Together with our own engineers we make sure that the original idea is not lost somewhere along the way”, Diederik continues. “This is something you can see happening more and more in modern architecture: architects reducing themselves to ad men

De Steltloper Ertskade Amsterdam. Photo: Luuk Kramer

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Foyer National Opera and Ballet Amsterdam.

peddling a very superficial representation of what architecture is, reducing design merely to the look of a building and surrendering their responsibility to guide the project end to end.”

because you build a real connection with the client, and together you get to where you want to be. And when you have finished the project, you know you have made a real and positive difference.”


“Ideally, this is exactly how the process should work for large-scale projects, as well,” Diederik chimes in. “Of course, considerations like green solutions for a cleaner environment are also important. We have been working with new

“The ideal situation is where you can take one person along on this adventure,” Cees adds. “Personally, my most successful and most beautiful buildings have been my designs for private homes,

Maastoren. Photo: Mathieu van Ek

environmental techniques for years, we even won a prize for the installation of a heat pump in one of our buildings as far back as 25 years ago. But all of this will never be as important as claiming our role as catalysts for adventure, creating buildings that will stand the test of time. Because that, to my mind, is true sustainability.” Web:

Private House Aerdenhout.

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Gusto MSC Schiedam. Photo: Marcel van der Burg

Building small but smart TEXT: EVA MENGER

Highly technical, super-efficient and future-building: those are the pillars of JHK Architecten. “We design buildings that are ready for the future,” architect and firm director Chris de Jonge explains. “The more companies move to the Netherlands’ central-western megalopolis, the more people will follow – and with that, the need for innovative, sustainable and efficient design increases.”

in sustainability and flexibility – both of which are key topics in today’s society. The firm uses modern techniques to create sustainable solutions. De Jonge: “Todays’ companies are always changing and transforming, and their offices need to reflect that. That’s why we create buildings that allow change to happen – whether that’s in format, purpose or work processes. Whatever happens in the future, our buildings are ready!”

With 65 years of proven concepts and constant development under their belt, JHK Architecten has a long tradition

Facilitating the organisational processes of their clients has always been the main aim of JHK Architecten. However,

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joining forces with others is easier said than done. Working across different subject areas can be difficult, and often the connection that was there in the begin-

Parking garage Lammermarkt Leiden.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

ning is gone at the end. This is not the case for Chris de Jonge. He joined the firm over 25 years ago, and clients from his early days still remain valued partners to this day.

Three pillars “All our designs share the same three starting points,” de Jonge explains. “The first is utility value, or the practical side of things. The second is experience value, which, of course, stands for the way in which users experience a building. Our final pillar is future value, as part of which we investigate how a building can facilitate structural changes within a company. An example of this is creating free height so that elevations or new levels can easily be added.” De Jonge: “We go for excellence. In practice, this means that 90 per cent of our efforts lie in efficiency, so there’s just a little budget of 10 per cent needed to get excellence. As a result we get to realise 100 per cent of the clients’ ambitions. Our craftsmanship is in the details. That makes the difference, and that’s what we choose to focus on.”

Egg of Columbus With the maximisation of small spaces as a key goal, most of the urbanisation projects JHK Architecten works on are technical masterpieces. Parking Lammermarkt in Leiden, for example, is a parking garage that, going up to 25 metres underground, is the deepest in Western Europe. “We worked on this as part of a design and build contract, which means that we worked closely with everyone involved and also had to take into account technical regulations and local requirements. Having to invent the egg of Columbus with all these restrictions in place, makes this work incredibly rewarding,” De Jonge tells us. Efficiency enabled by highly technical craftsmanship has turned the parking garage into an artistic underground cathedral. According to the proud citizens of Leiden it’s become an experience to park in Parking Lammermarkt. In addition, it’s both user and neighbourhood friendly; its cylindrical shape is spacious enough for users to feel safe and comfortable, yet so compact that it offers 525 parking spaces without being visible above ground.

To keep noise disturbance to an absolute minimum, a range of technical measures has also been implemented. The Lammermarkt Parking was awarded by the public with the RAP prize 2017.

Repurposing buildings JHK Architecten also specialises in transformations. De Jonge: “Lumière Cinema in Maastricht used to be a power plant. It was built in 1910 and comprises four monumental buildings, which now include six screens and a total of 500 seats, all of which offer a spectacular view.” Formerly bricked up spaces were opened and repurposed, and various levels were added to create a new sense of depth. “It’s become a warm, comfortable space on a very unique location,” De Jonge adds. Another excellent example is the transformation of an old carpentry factory, now the office of engineering consultancy GustoMSC. The characteristic building from 1948 is located on a former shipyard and contains three levels of large, open floors arranged around a central atrium while windows on each side let

FWN faculty Leiden, a collaboration with inbo. Photo: Marcel van der Burg

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Parking garage Lammermarkt Leiden. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

Parking garage Lammermarkt Leiden. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

Lumière Cinema Maastricht, a collaboration with Verlaan & Bouwstra architecten. Photo: Marcel van der Burg

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Parking garage Lammermarkt Leiden. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

in plenty of light. The architects chose to largely retain the original building - only restoring it where necessary and adding features to improve its overall practicality. “People are proud to be working in this building,” De Jonge adds. “We wanted the open, industrial character of the building to shine through as much as possible, which is why we mostly worked with glass and creative solutions like acoustic, portable walls. In addition, we found it important to give it a clean look. To achieve this result, we’ve hidden all technics in raised floors and integrated lighting into the acoustic ceilings.” The integral approach and close collaboration between various parties have led to a sustainable, light

Parking garage Lammermarkt Leiden. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

and comfortable office. The GustoMSC project was awarded as a National winning transformation for the Gulden Feniks 2017.

Versatility From their wide-ranging portfolio, it’s clear that JHK Architecten has its fingers in many pies, but they are selective in who they work for. Clients need to have a mission and be equally ambitious to deserve a partnership with JHK. The new faculty for the University of Leiden clearly illustrates this. The new maths and natural sciences faculty is a milestone for the university, as it’s the first time they will see all of their different institutes united under one roof; one collaborative space where the exchange of knowledge, edu-

cation and research will be facilitated. In helping to define the future of this new faculty, JHK has created a space in which people will start working more collaboratively – an attitude that is much needed for the collaborative scientific discoveries of tomorrow. The building is set up in a way that offers plenty of daylight and a spacious view from wherever students are seated. A central axis connects the different faculty wings and on the East side of the building, a ‘window of knowledge’ spans across the entire length and height. Here, lecture halls, meeting rooms and labs act as the public-facing business card of the faculty. What all these different projects show is that JHK Architecten uses their brainpower. “I think this will be crucial in the future,” De Jonge confirms. “The more our population grows and technical changes develop, the more effort we’ll have to put into making our designs fit for human interaction. It’s vital that we all work together. Only then will we be able to deliver integral and wellcoordinated building solutions. A building is never just a one man show: it’s a collaboration between an ambitious client, our technical, creative colleagues and the future.”

Lumière Cinema Maastricht, a collaboration with Verlaan & Bouwstra architecten. Photo: Marcel van der Burg


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  21

Victor J. Koningsberger Building.

Creating knowledge centres for the future TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: PETRA APPELHOF

Sightlines, traffic flow and parking spaces are all terms typically associated with road design, but they are equally prevalent in architecture. “It’s elements like these that allow us to think practically about the way in which people move through a building, and ultimately, that is how we can create designs that encourage interaction,” Joost Ector, architect and partner at Dutch firm Ector Hoogstad Architecten explains. With their innovative and forwardthinking designs, Ector Hoogstad Architecten is widely known for creating knowledge landscapes that offer space for reflection, collaboration and exploration. This tradition started 60 years ago when architect Jan Hoogstad founded the firm in a post-war Rotterdam. Playing a crucial role in rebuilding the city, Hoogstad set a trend for creating buildings that contribute to a better world. “This idea is still very deeply rooted in our work,” Ector confirms. “In its ability to unite, architecture can encourage people to move forward and build a future together.” 22  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Fostering knowledge sharing

A place to stay

Ector: “The layout of our buildings invites people to collaborate and communicate with each other. With sightlines, we create visibility into what people are working on, and by carefully directing traffic flows we make sure that people from different departments make contact. Parking spaces, by which we mean areas where people can casually sit down and chat after they went to a class or bumped into each other, stimulate conversation and knowledge sharing. Features like these will help people rise above themselves, both individually and collectively.”

The University of Utrecht approached Ector Hoogstad Architecten as they were looking to build a new education centre focused on collaboration. “Before the Victor J. Koningsberger building, they didn’t have anywhere for students to connect outside of the classroom,” Ector tells us. The building houses the faculties of geoscience, beta science and medicine and also functions as the university’s main meeting centre. Offering students, teachers and researchers a comfortable and inspiring place to work, the centre has been busy from the moment it opened its doors.

The passion that Ector Hoogstad Architecten has for innovation is visible in all their designs. Their building techniques are state of the art, and the firm is one of the front-runners when it comes to sustainability and circularity. “We’re also used to working on complex projects and like to stay on top of everything we do,” Ector explains. “Working with the latest 3D design tools and other advanced technology allows us to take control and makes us a very reliable partner.”

Central themes in the Victor J. Koningsberger building are light, openness and transparency. A huge central atrium spans the height of the entire building, with spacious steps offering access to each floor and an eye-catching roof letting in warm, evenly distributed light. Its transparent facades give the building an iconic look, but more importantly, allow for sustainable light, heat and energy use.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Innovation Businesses, authorities and educational institutions in the Netherlands are working together as part of the so-called triple helix. Innovation is their collective aim, and the new Center Court of Brightlands’ Chemelot Campus is here to facilitate that. It has become the heart of the campus, with users including university departments, offices and learning labs, as well as restaurants, gyms, meeting rooms and shops. It’s an inviting hub centred on connecting and sharing, which is why DSM chose it as the home of its R&D activities. The versatility of its many users has turned it into a great success. Another example of such a hub is the Matrix VII incubator building in Science Park Amsterdam. Combining lab rooms, office spaces and various communal spaces such as lounges, a spacious restaurant and meeting rooms, this innovation centre is ideal for start-ups in ICT, life sciences and new media. It’s located right next to the University of Amsterdam’s new beta faculty and offers top-level facilities for emerging businesses in chemistry and biotechnology. With floors divided into variable units, the building’s layout is incredibly flexible. The building was also designed with sustainability in mind. The facade lets in plenty of daylight but prevents solar radiation from coming in, thus keeping the interior cool without the use of excessive energy. “We tried to think of ideas that can improve the sustainability of the building in a subtle and innovative way,” Ector adds. “Subfloors are made of thermally modified wood that fights drought and doesn’t rot, for example, and technical installations are hidden under a gold moss roof, which buffers rainwater and filters particulate matter from the air.”

Matrix VII. Photo: Bart van Hoek

Victor J. Koningsberger Building.

Victor J. Koningsberger Building.

Whatever the team at Ector Hoogstad Architecten does, they make sure that innovation is at the heart of it. “We’re defined by the knowledge processes that emerge when people meet, and we want our work to show that when people join forces, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.” Web:

Center Court.

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Manor Province Utrecht. Impressions: Proloog



With a clear vision and plenty of passion, Zecc Architects creates visually stunning designs underpinned by sophisticated functionality and smart, sustainable solutions for your home. “Passion, inspiration and enthusiasm are some of our core values,” says Zecc creative director Bart Kellerhuis. “But we always make sure we balance our creative flair with a well-researched plan and a budget to match.” Since Bart joined as a partner in 2008 to lead the firm alongside general manager Marnix van der Meer, Zecc has been growing steadily to now having 22 staff in 2019. “Just the right size to keep a nice balance,” Bart smiles. “It allows us to take on large projects while at the same time 24  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

retaining a real family feel and can-do mentality within the organisation, so we can give all of our clients our full focus and dedication.” Over the last ten years, Zecc has built a reputation for original residential developments – often in urban densification areas – as well as many high-profile transformations. Standout projects include the design of the temporary residence for the Dutch Parliament in The Hague and the transformation of Utrecht’s former post office to house the city’s new public library.

al process to find the optimal functional design. If a client wants to have 20- by ten-feet glass patio doors leading onto the garden, that might not always be great in terms of functionality, but it will be stunning to look at and give a fantastic feel to the area.” From its end, Zecc also maintains a clear profile of what they stand for. “We have a penchant for more daring designs, and in every project we undertake, we have the

Think outside the box Maybe not as well known, but equally important, is their work in the private sector. “Working with private clients allows you more freedom to think outside of the box, rather than following a completely ration-

Bart Kellerhuis (left) and Marnix van de Meer (right). Photo: Inge Snelders

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Water tower. Impressions: Proloog

Residence Church XL. Photo: Frank Hanswijk

ambition to achieve something special. So we need to make sure that our vision fits in with the client’s wishes, otherwise it would be better not to take on the job.”

Spectacular transformations Zecc’s private home designs include new builds as well as some spectacular transformations, including a number of church conversions and a stunning design for a historic water tower in Utrecht’s city centre. But Bart’s favourite private project is a barn-like extension to a farmhouse in the countryside near Utrecht. “We’re really happy that the clients had the courage to go along with this radical design,” he explains. “It’s as if the main building has been ‘impaled’ by an alien wooden volume, which creates a whole new constellation and radically changes the relationship between indoors and outdoors.” The design uniquely intertwines landscape and architecture, and also offers great comfort and functionality, with different areas to sit around the house at different times in the day. “And the choice of material means that the extension will only become even more beautiful and interesting as time goes by, without needing a paint job,” he adds. “So it’s not just beautiful to look at, it’s also a very sustainable solution.”

Manor Province Utrecht. Impressions: Proloog

about the money: it’s also about how your plans fit the budget. “Not every transformation or build needs to have tonnes of money thrown at them. The important thing is that they are within budget. Projects that are underfunded will rapidly go from bad to worse. It’s much better to cut costs by simplifying your design. Sometimes it can even improve a design. It’s all about making the right choices and looking for the best solutions.”

Creative To come up with these solutions, Zecc’s experience in social housing and public buildings has proved to be a real help. “Our work in urban densification projects forces us to be creative within very tight budgets: for instance, by introducing small details to give an otherwise dull and repetitive residential development an unexpected dynamic. And our experience with larger-scale redevelopments and

transformations helps us to find creative ways to integrate existing elements into our designs. But of course we also look at any new design solutions that may be developed by other firms.” Outside of architecture, Zecc also looks for inspiration in fields such as art, photography, graphic design, advertising and the digital domain. Every month, they invite guests to discuss a topic related to one of these fields during a Friday afternoon ‘images and drinks’ session. “Personally, I think it’s really important for architects to stay in touch with the wider world so that in some way these elements are channeled through in our designs,” Bart explains. “I believe it’s the only way we can keep our work fresh and relevant.” Web:

Daring plans Some of these private projects had plenty of budget to realise these daring plans, Bart admits. But, he argues, it’s not just


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  25

De Silo’s rooftop.

Form follows people TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: TANK

Buildings are often designed to fit their expected function and agenda, but for Dutch architecture agency TANK, this feels like the wrong approach. “Ultimately, it’s the user who has to work, live or socialise in it, which is why in our projects, form follows people, not function,” founding partner Menno Kooistra explains. Together with interior designers Sanne Schenk and Tommy Kleerekoper, Kooistra founded TANK in 2014. As director, he heads the architecture and urban planning department. His architectural background lies in sustainability, which is still the central element in everything his team works on today. “Our approach is that environmental impact can only be realised if it’s focused on the user. The user needs to benefit from it before anything else,” says Kooistra. While efficient use of energy undoubtedly contributes to the environment, it also works because it’s cheaper for the user. 26  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

The same goes for non-toxic building materials; better for the world, but it makes living conditions for the user safer, too. And then there’s user-friendliness. A sustainable home that is easy to navigate will inevitably lead to better climate control. By putting the user first, TANK designs buildings that are beneficial to individuals as well as society. In addition, they are unrestricted. Kooistra: “It’s our job to develop well functioning spaces, but it’s the user that decides what to do with it.”

Architecture as a product A good example of such a space is office turned housing development De Voortuinen (The Front Gardens), set to be built in the Amsterdam Westerpark area this year. While reusing the original building structure, the transformed exterior will offer a unique living experience that combines urban living with a sense of freedom and nature. Kooistra: “What’s so special about this design is that we moved the previously internal elevators to the outside, which

hasn’t just made the apartments bigger, but also lowered the building costs and so offers users better quality, for less money. What’s more, it will allow residents to enter their home through their very own 11th or 12th-floor garden.” The unique exterior of these apartments is perfectly reflected on the inside, too. “We wanted to create a place where anyone could live,” Kooistra explains. “The apartments are completely adaptable towards residents’ personal needs – whether they’re retirees, students looking for a house share or professionals seeking

De Silo’s design.

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a place to live and work.” As a full-suite agency, TANK works on these serialised products as if they were a consumer product. “Offering our services as a product significantly increases the overall quality,” Kooistra confirms.

Multifunctional spaces In addition to serialised work, TANK also specialises in – equally multifunctional and sustainable – one-off projects. “We’re currently working on transforming three old silos in the Amsterdam IJburg area into a cultural and commercial hub strongly focused on the neighbourhood,” says Kooistra. Combining transformation, mixed-use and sustainability (the design has already been awarded the BREEAM outstanding certification), it’s an excellent example of the unique work that TANK is able to deliver. Newly added wooden structures offer a warm contrast to the industrial concrete, and simultaneously function as planters and nest boxes to stimulate the building’s indoor flora and fauna. The silos’ rooftops will turn into public terraces, and the spiralled block on top will house offices, hotels, a cinema, restaurants and much more. The silos itself let in little daylight, and to save energy, these will turn into spaces needing less light, including a brewery, a cinema and a wellness centre. Whatever form of entertainment the lucky IJburg residents are looking for, they’re likely to find it here.

De Silo’s.

De Voortuinen.

Taking charge “Having the freedom to take projects into any direction is very important to us, which is why we like to be as close to the core as possible,” Kooistra explains. “We work closely with our clients and take charge of the total design, which is why we also have good relationships with constructors, sustainability advisors, building physics and everyone else involved. Clients don’t just hire us for architecture. We offer an integrated package in the shape of an industrialised product. It’s a relatively new approach within the industry, but there’s an increasing demand for it.” Web:

De Voortuinen.

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  27

The Netherlands’ most sustainable hotel TEXT THESSA LAGEMAN  |  PHOTOS: SEARCH AND IWAN BAAN

Hotel Jakarta is an extraordinary triangle-shaped building with glass facades and a timber structure in Amsterdam. It’s not just a hotel: there is a restaurant, sky bar, wellness centre, bakery and subtropical indoor garden too. “We wanted to build the neighbourhood’s living room,” explains architect Kathrin Hanf. The city council wanted a unique hotel concept, not only in its architecture but also in its public programming and sustainability. SeARCH, an Amsterdam-based, leading architecture and urban design bureau managed to create just that. The spectacular 16,500-square-metre building opened last year and includes many special features. According to the city council’s plans, the outside had to reflect the industrial characteristics of the harbour. From this spot on the Java island, ships departed to 28  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Indonesia between 1870 and 1970. “We wanted to bring the history alive in the building,” says Hanf, who supervised the project from the contest until completion. “For example, on the aluminium panels, you’ll find a Dutch merchant ship.”

Subtropical atmosphere Once you enter the building, you arrive in another world: suddenly you feel you’ve been transported to an exotic atmosphere. For example, you can admire the Indonesian plants and trees in the subtropical indoor garden, created in cooperation with the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. “The warm, pleasant, Indonesian atmosphere fits the concept of Hotel Jakarta well,” explains the architect. “It has a completely different atmosphere from other hotels in Amsterdam.” Unique for the Netherlands is the 30metre-high timber structure. “The building industry is one of the biggest polluters

right now,” explains Hanf. “It’s responsible for a large quantity of CO2 emissions, because of the CO2 that is released when producing concrete. However, you can often replace concrete with wood. CO2 is stored in wood and is, therefore, a much more sustainable option. This way, we contribute to the climate goals.”

Sustainable timber structure Many people think wood might not be strong enough for construction purposes. “That’s a misconception,” the architect emphasises. “When you use it well, it is very strong and lasts a long time, and it’s also suitable for large buildings.” SeARCH has been building with wood for over 15 years. Hotel Jakarta’s ceiling, floors and walls are made of bamboo, which is a sustainable material too, explains Hanf. It grows fast and takes CO2 from the air. Solar panels have been put on as many places

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as possible, as well: on the roof, including the glass parts, and at the south side. The energy-neutral building has an Excellent certificate from BREEAM, the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings, by the UK-based Building Research Establishment. Hotel Jakarta is even the most sustainable hotel in the Netherlands now. “It’s iconic for the climate discussion,” says Hanf with pride.

Prizewinning design It is not only SeARCH’s architects who are enthusiastic about the results.

“We’ve been to many award ceremonies in the past few months,” says Hanf. The company, for example, won the Golden A.A.P 2019 (the Amsterdam architecture public jury prize), the Green Good Design Award 2019, the WAF Award Best Hotel of the year, the Architecture Masterprize in Green Architecture, and the Public Building of the Year from Architectenweb Award 2018. Also remarkable about this building is the fact that 176 of the 200 hotel rooms – all made from wood – were prefabricated elsewhere. They were put at the construction site within three weeks, saving

half a year of construction time. “This meant less nuisance for the neighbourhood. And for the investor, it was very interesting too, because the hotel could open its doors sooner.”

Neighbourhood living room Apart from the hotel, there’s a dynamic public ‘pasar’ on the ground floor, an Indonesian market place, with various bars, a restaurant, bakery and coffee corner, a wellness centre and cultural activities. “You don’t often go to a hotel if you aren’t staying there,” says Hanf. “However, we wanted to invite the neighbourhood in and create a space where tourists and residents can meet and enjoy sitting in a subtropical sheltered garden.” From the sky bar on the top eighth and ninth floors, you have stunning views over the IJ river, the central station, some high buildings and the large ships in the cruise terminal. “A lovely place to watch the sunset,” says Hanf, who has enjoyed staying in the hotel herself a few times, as well. “As architects, it’s not often we can stay in the building we designed,” she smiles.

Web:, Email: Tel: +31207889900

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  29

Parkhoven garden patio: the outdoor spaces are enclosed by buildings, allowing residents freedom.

Architecture that improves lives TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: VNL-ARCHITECTEN

Architects Robert Landstra and Teunis Vonk took a big risk when they started their own company VNL-Architecten in the middle of the 2010 recession. Nearly ten years later, the company has become one of the Netherlands’ foremost experts on building for the healthcare sector, and particularly for patients with dementia. “We knew there had to be a better way of building for care patients – and today, we’ve proved that there is.” As colleagues at a large architecture firm, Landstra and Vonk shared an unease about the way most care facilities are built. “Building styles in the health sector tend to be fairly traditional, centred around patient wards. It just didn’t feel very nice or homely at all,” attests Landstra. “We wanted these clinics to feel much more residential, with a focus on living over care. Since we had no opportunities to produce our vision at the company we were work30  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

ing at, we decided to take the jump and start our own firm.”

interventions help people in real-time is incredibly rewarding.”

Reducing anxiety through design

Small tweaks, huge impact

In the ten years since, VNL-Architecten has certainly proved that building for the care sector in a more residential style works. What’s more: it has a significant positive impact on patients’ wellbeing. “We worked with Breincollectief, a foundation that conducts research into the effects of dementia on the brain, to really understand what causes people with dementia anxiety,” says Landstra.

The duo’s design vision is perfectly exemplified in project Parkhoven, a dementia care complex in Leeuwarden. “This facility comes close to our ideal,” says Vonk. “The building is centred around small groups of seven residents each. We have designed these units so that the living situation resembles a normal residential house as closely as possible. This means that visitors call at the front door of each unit and step into a hall, rather than having to register at a central reception desk, for example.”

“We developed an architectural vision around our findings, which allows us to create designs that minimise anxiety and interference for those that suffer from dementia. These designs work so well, that many patients living in our buildings can lower their medicine intake, and less care personnel is needed. Seeing our

The various units are interconnected via the back, but the connecting features are hidden, so that each unit feels like a standalone household. “The benefit is that the connecting passages create en-

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closed courtyards, so that the residents have an outdoor space in which they can move freely, without feeling locked up: there are no fences or other invasive features,” Vonk explains. Every feature of the design is intentional. Take the kitchen, for example: “We learned that dementia patients can feel anxious and distracted when there is movement or noise behind them, so we make sure tables are positioned in a way that minimises this. Many care facilities also combine the dining space and living room into one, which means patients never move around. In Parkhoven, we have put the living room and dining room at opposite ends of the unit, so that residents get some movement every day. Dynamic lighting helps guide them in the process.”

Villa Grou.

All these interventions lead to a space that feels homely, cosy and pleasant – worlds away from the often sterile and soulless feel of traditional hospitals and care facilities. The net effect is that patients are calmer, more engaged, and ultimately able to live out their sunset years as happily as possible.

Variety is the spice of life While Landstra and Vonk take great pleasure in seeing their designs improve the lives of dementia sufferers, they also take on projects outside the care sector. “Our other main project type comprises luxury villas,” says Landstra. “Designing in such hugely differing styles – and for very different budgets – keeps things interesting and fun for us.”

Villa Leusden.

The main ambition for VNL-Architecten is just that: “We mainly want to keep working on interesting and rewarding projects, and continue to enjoy the work we do. We are currently working on a large-scale care complex in Rotterdam, as well as several villas that are about to enter the construction phase. We are glad our risky jump in 2010 paid off,” concludes Vonk. VNL-Architecten is located in Grou and takes on projects all over the Netherlands and beyond. Find them online at:

Parkhoven residential units: dynamic lighting and plenty of daylight have a positive impact on residents’ moods

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  31

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

Babette Bouman.

Designing the perfect office space TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: TÉTRIS DESIGN & BUILD

How can an office building convey the identity of a brand without it being too obvious? That’s the question underpinning the work of Babette Bouman as head of design at Tétris Design & Build. “We’re constantly looking for ways of creating a sense of familiarity without it being vulgar. It’s about the way people feel when they enter the building, not about pompously waving the company flag. It’s a delicate balance, and that’s what makes it so incredibly interesting.”

the latter is where the brand experience comes in. Both are equally important.”

Where clients are often focused on whether a building is big enough for their company, Bouman states that it’s much more important to look at the ‘how’. “It’s the way in which a company chooses to make use of their space that needs consideration. There’s functionality and then there’s identity; where the first mostly concerns practical details such as meeting rooms,

The ever-changing office

32  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Bouman: “One of our most recent projects is the Coca-Cola headquarters in Rotterdam, as part of which we were asked to redevelop how employees use the office space. And that’s what makes this type of project so great. It’s not just about design, but rather, we actively take part in a company’s relocation plans. We significantly contribute to the way in which our clients move forward.”

Coca-Cola wanted their redeveloped Dutch headquarters to encourage mobilisation. “But,” Bouman explains, “when working with open-plan offices and hot desks, it’s absolutely key that there are plenty of quiet spots available, where those who need it can retreat themselves. Some work just needs to be done in si-

lence - and nobody wants to have to ask their colleagues to keep it quiet. The perfect office is about flexibility, both in terms of functionality and culture.” Bouman: “And that’s perhaps our biggest challenge. People don’t like change and are above all worried that they might not get what they need to deliver good work. But we’re here to show them that to stay future-proof, these types of transitions are necessary.” Tétris Design & Build was founded in France in 2003, and now has offices across the world. The Dutch team is comprised of 35 talented designers, architects and project managers who all work closely together to ensure designs can move to construction straight after they’re developed. Web:

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Sustainability bound up with beauty and quality TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: REITSEMA & PARTNERS, RONALD TILLEMAN

At Reitsema & partners architects, they believe that in addition to cradle to cradle design, and the utilisation of reusable materials, there is another solution for sustainability: creating buildings that do not need to be demolished and rebuilt. Lasting buildings mean less transport, less waste and less carbon dioxide emissions. The architecture firm has underpinned their views with research showing that adaptable buildings are the ones that last. These are the buildings with plenty of freedom in terms of layout, high ceilings and space for installation. “But more importantly — there is something else that these buildings have in common,” smiles Theo Reitsema, architect and founder of Reitsema & partners. “These are the buildings that we love. We preserve the buildings that we are invested in, the ones that we like, that are created

with love, with beautiful details and materials, that are unique and have a story. These are the buildings that stand the test of time, that transcend the issues of the day. And these are the buildings we take pride in creating.” In Borne, Reitsema & partners architects transformed the Sint Theresia church into a modern health centre. Both the buyer and seller wanted the church to regain its social significance for the neighbourhood and community. “During the renovation, we explicitly focused on conserving the existing spatial characteristics,” says Reitsema. “We were able to create a sustainable building by effectively placing a building inside a building. Only the practice rooms have a high-quality climate, while the atrium in the church has an intermediate climate, drastically reducing running costs. Because of the high-quality

finishes and details, I am convinced it will still be a desirable let in 20 years’ time.” Another significant project was the transformation of the VolkerWessels office in Rijssen. This was a particularly high-end office in the early ‘90s, and the challenge for Reitsema was to make the building high-quality and special again, in terms of both design and installation. The result is a refined, elegant design with a timeless aesthetic, combined with maximum comfort and energy-efficiency. “In addition to offices and repurposing, we also specialise in luxury villas,” explains Reitsema. “Here, we also use high-quality materials and refined details. Our architecture is timeless, because conserving equals sustainability.” Web:

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  33

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Designing the Future

DHG Smartlog.

Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub.

Garak Tower East Seoul.

WDP Greenery Breda.


Based in Rotterdam, ConvexArchitecten have made a name for themselves around the world. While they’re specialists in commercial buildings, notably distribution centres, the firm have also recently impressed in South Korea with a dynamic office tower, not to mention redefining living spaces as we know them.

International success ConvexArchitecten were selected by the Garak Construction company to design an office tower in the Gangnam business district of Seoul. The firm was asked to design a building that would make pedestrians look at their tower, rather than the ‘masculine’, rectangular Samsung headquarters opposite. By looking at the history of Korean design and ceramics, the team designed a ‘feminine’, dynamic tower with wave-like lines running 130 metres high.

Distribution centres In the Netherlands, ConvexArchitecten is an expert in designing distribution centres such as the modern Smartlog, designed 34  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

for DHG in Moerdijk. It is centres like these that reflect the company’s expertise, and how their business-like approach, virtue and reliability has helped them stand out since the firm was established in 1947.

office space and its location means that products can be distributed from a big hub to smaller logistical streams by either electric cars or boats – reducing congestion by traffic in the city.

While ConvexArchitecten have designed many distribution centres, no two are the same. Take, for example, the centre WDP asked them to design for The Greenery in Breda. The building structure is made of concrete rather than the traditional steel, and includes many cold storage rooms designed especially for dealing with soft fruits such as raspberries and strawberries.

A new way of living

Multilevel Cityhub Equally, the Logistic Cityhub in Amsterdam is unique. Aware of CO2 emissions and trying to fit a modern transport system in a historical city, ConvexArchitecten is commissioned by Larendael Investments to design a two-layered complex with a size of 125,000 square metres, where trucks can dock and load on both levels. The hub further includes 11,000 square metres of

In addition to the commercial successes, one of ConvexArchitecten’s most recent projects is Dörp – a pioneering concept that offers a new way of living. In short, it means that inhabitants’ personal space is smaller, yet they gain in communal areas – think enjoying meals together or even a communal music room. “It’s a living space that fits upcoming social economic developments – focused on people being more involved with each other.”

For further information please contact Peter Couwenbergh Web: Tel: +31(0)6 511 440 98 Email:

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Sustainable modernism for architectural artwork TEXT: DEBBY GROOTEMAN  |  PHOTOS: JULIUS TAMINIAU

Design studio Julius Taminiau Architects can be found in the centre of Amsterdam. The international team, led by Julius Taminiau, has the ambition to create beautiful, sleek and detailed buildings where quality is the key factor. This, in combination with the use of durable and sustainable materials, creates a design style that can be described as ´sustainable modernism`. “We think sustainability is important, but this can’t be at the expense of design,” explains Julius Taminiau. “The combination can sometimes be difficult. For example: to avoid the loss of heat in a building, less windows are recommended. But for natural light and to include nice views, you want to have them. So the question is, how to make a smart design that takes all aspects into account?

And a design that will be sustainable in time, too.” One of the projects Taminiau is really proud of is the transformation of a farm to a residential building. Julius Taminiau Architects transformed an old cowshed, yet still kept an appearance of a typical shed. Of course, the use of sustainable materials was important for this project. “To exaggerate the look of a shed we even used wood for the roof of the building. Also, we included some big openings in the design to look out over the surrounding landscape. The idea behind this also references the openings in the original shed, where the cows or a tractor would pass through.” When talking about the future of design, Taminiau sees possibilities for water

homes. “In the future, maybe a part of the Netherlands will be underwater. Why not build villages on the water? A houseboat is a complete home and offers so many advantages. You live directly in nature. You see animals passing by and can take a swim in the morning when you wake up. Also, you think more about the products you use. For example, what is getting flushed through the sink and where it ends up,” muses the architect. “It is my ambition to always design something that people can enjoy. With good architecture, you can spread some happiness. A smart-designed space that exudes calmness, made using well-considered and natural materials.” Web:

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  35

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‘Side by side with clients, every step of the way’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: EXS ARCHITECTS

More and more people in the Netherlands want to design their own homes. With ExS Architects, they have a partner that not only looks at the wishes of today, but also the needs of tomorrow. “A sustainable house has the capacity to adapt to the everchanging needs of its inhabitants, and can endure in times of rapid change,” explains founder Elina Karanastasi. ExS Architects is a team of architects and passionate technicians that have designed and created numerous villas and townhouses in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Nijmegen. “We create unique homes inspired by the individual needs of the people that are going to inhabit them, while creating sustainable solutions in the wider sense of the word, approached with creativity and unique design solutions,” elaborates the architect. The two villas ExS Architects conceived at the Leonidas location in Rotterdam, are a fine example of this. “We design unique architecture

initialised by each location and its future users. The differences between the two villas, which are 50 metres apart, demonstrate how much we incorporate the initial needs and character of each client, as well as the surroundings.” To ensure their clients follow each step of the journey with confidence, ExS Architects puts effort and attention into not only creating a great design, but also with their original sixstep system to monitor the whole process. “We provide a total service, from technical drawings to budget monitoring. We keep providing that service, even after the completion of the project,” concludes Karanastasi.


Creativity, intuition and expertise TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTO: MICHAEL CERRONE FOTOGRAFIE

Studio RAAM is a young architecture firm from Rotterdam with an emphasis on sustainability in their architectural work. Their designs vary from rooftop extensions and interior renovations, to business parks and hospitality establishments. RAAM’s spatial, no-frills designs are elegantly characterised by a certain rawness. RAAM was founded in 2017 by William de Ronde and Koen Klok, who met during their architecture studies. The designers explore form, function and material, using their creativity, intuition and expertise as a guide. “We always consider the environment of the building, as well as the client’s wishes in addition to our own ideas,” explains Klok. De Ronde adds: “We use our expert eye to see the possibilities of the space, and utilise it optimally. For instance, when a client asked to 36  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

make his roof more accessible, we designed an abstract volume with several functions. It’s not only the entrance, but also serves as an outside kitchen and storage. We designed a simple black shape with a functional bite taken out; and the extension became a feature rather than a necessary addition.” RAAM also designed a modular beach pavilion that merges with the surrounding dune landscape. This contemporary solution is self-sufficient and easily expandable or diminishable, size-wise. When demands of time require changes, the compartments can be removed and reused elsewhere. The architects integrate sustainability in every design through the use of durable materials, greening and power generation. “We visualise our ideas in a 3D drawing, so the client can get a good grasp of the design at an early stage. We then work together

with the builders to ensure that the execution lives up to the design. Ultimately, it’s also important to us that the end result looks good,” smiles Klok.


Holland’s top ten delicacies TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: NBTC

Though not many travelling to the Netherlands go there with a specific enthusiasm for the country’s food, Dutch cuisine has more to offer than just cheese, stroopwafels and herring. Luckily, recent years have seen a renewed interest in Dutch culinary culture, centred around local eating and rediscovering typical products and recipes. Leading Dutch chefs have also banded together to place Dutch cuisine on the cultural map, right up there with its art and design. From north to south and east to west, there are plenty of delicacies waiting to be discovered. Here are ten you need to try.

1. Oysters Loved by the Dutch for centuries, oysters have even been seductively depicted in many still-life masterpieces from the Golden Age. Zeeland has two varieties: the Creuse oyster, with its clean, briny taste, and the flat ‘Zeeuwse platte’ oyster, which has a more delicate flavour. Oyster season runs from September to April, and they are at their absolute tastiest during the months of October, November and December, making them a perfect choice for the holiday table. Dutch oysters are best eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon or a mignonette sauce made with red-wine vinegar and shallots. 38  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Photo: Pixabay

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Holland’s Top Ten Delicacies

2. Wine Dutch wine? Yes, you read that correctly! After tasting 16 different vintages in 2010, even wine critic Jancis Robinson’s “condescending skepticism” became “surprised delight”. She called the experience her “most surprising tasting ever”. Wine has been grown in the Netherlands since 968 AD. Today, there are approximately 200 professional vineyards producing roughly 1.3 million bottles of wine annually. Impressive, considering the country’s cool, wet climate. The oldest (1970) Dutch vineyard is the Apostelhoeve in Maastricht. Another well-known vineyard is Colonjes in Groesbeek, the country’s wine village. It has 13 hectares and is the largest organic vineyard.

Photo: Pexels

3. Asparagus Referred to as ‘white gold’, asparagus is a delicacy many Dutch await with delicious anticipation. If you drive into the southern provinces of North Brabant and Limburg during the extremely short asparagus season (it runs from late March/ early April and ends precisely on 24 June with the feast of St. Jan), you will see them in neat beds, and almost every restaurant will serve them in one way or another. Though asparagus comes in three varieties (white, purple and green), more than 95 per cent of the Dutch production is white. They are certainly not cheap – hence their nickname!

4. Oosterschelde Lobster Another seafood star from Zeeland is Oosterschelde Lobster, often called the ‘Rolls Royce’ of its kind. With tender, sweet meat and a refined taste, the lobster is a ’slow food’ product, caught under strict rules and regulations, and only between the last Thursday in March and 15 July. It is protected and promoted by the ‘Kring van de Oosterscheldekreeft’ (Association of Oosterschelde Lobster), formed by 16 restaurants in Zeeland offering special menus during the season. The best place to buy Dutch lobster? Viskwekerij Neeltje Jans in Vrouwenpolder. Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  39

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Holland’s Top Ten Delicacies

5. Kemper Chicken The French have ‘poulet de Bresse’, and the Dutch have Kemper chicken from IJzevoorde in the Achterhoek region. In the ‘90s, while farmers were mass producing poultry cheaply, Herman Kemper was on a mission to bring back the taste of real chicken. He went to France in search of a slow-growing breed and studied the effects of feeding the birds a proper diet. Kemper chickens are allowed more time and room to grow and are fed a diet of quality grains. The result? Chicken with real flavour and tender meat – exactly the way they tasted in the good old days.

Photo: Dorine Ruter

6. Livar Pork Livar pork was inspired by a group of five Dutch farmers who travelled to Spain to learn the art of producing the best-quality meat. Originally, the pigs enjoyed the good life at the Lilbosch Abbey in Echt, where they were lovingly cared for by Cistercian monks. Today, there are several farms raising Livar pork. With its deep colour and perfect marbling, this extremely flavoursome meat is best enjoyed slightly rosé so that it retains all its juicy, tender goodness.

Photo: Paola Westbeek

7. Dried Sausage Known mainly for its 120-mile-long skating tour (the Elfstedentocht or Eleven Cities Tour) and its own language, the northern Dutch province of Friesland has a stunning diversity of regional products and cherished food traditions. Friesland’s cuisine consists of stick-to-the-ribs fare with robust flavours. A must-try is their dried sausage (Fryske drûge woarst). Slowly smoked on oak and turf, it is flavoured with coriander and black pepper. The sausage is best eaten as a snack, preferably with a glass of Beerenburg (a distilled regional drink made from different herbs and plant extracts) or one of the 18 varieties of beer. 40  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Photo: Pixabay

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Holland’s Top Ten Delicacies

8. Groninger Mustard

9. Texel Lamb

Mustard’s sharp taste has added zest to Dutch cuisine since the 13th century, when it was not only used as a condiment, but also thought to enhance digestion. In fact, a spoonful of mustard was usually taken after a rich meal, hence the Dutch saying ‘mosterd na de maaltijd’ (‘mustard after the meal’, referring to something that happens too late). Mustard from Groningen is sharp, robust and great with meat, or served as a dip for cheeses or sausage. In the past, the mustard was also used to make ‘mosterdstip’, a simple sauce consisting of bacon fat, flour and a little cream.

With wide, green pastures and crisp air, Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Islands, is a paradise for sheep. And did you know that there are more sheep in Texel than people? The strong, sturdy breed (known as the Texelaar) has been around since the 15th century. Texel lamb is reared under strict, sustainable conditions. In order to be granted regional certification, the animals must spend at least 100 days outdoors. Texel’s saline pastures give the meat a slightly salty taste, referred to in French as ‘agneau de pré-salé’.

Photo: Paola Westbeek

10. Stellendam Prawns The best prawns thrive off the coast of Stellendam, where the sea bottom is composed of fine, white sand. This influences their colour: they are rosy brown and lighter than the ones caught in the Wadden Sea. The fleshy bite and fresh flavour of Stellendam prawns make them perfect in a cocktail with a shot of whiskey and a few drops of lemon juice. Serve the prawns with an aromatic, fruity white such as the Apostelhoeve’s Cuvée XII, a wine from Maastricht! Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  41

De Koppenberg.


Live it. Love it! Surrounded by Bruges to the west and Antwerp and Brussels to the east, the Belgian province of East Flanders is bursting with artistic gems, stunning scenery and vibrant towns. This month, we showcase the province’s unmissable art and cultural hotspots, not to mention our favourite addresses for wining and dining. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS

Leie Ghent.

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Discover Benelux  |  Discover East Flanders  |  Live It. Love It!


Graslei Ghent.

Festivities galore No trip to East Flanders would be complete without a visit to Ghent, the province’s beating heart and Belgium’s festival capital. The city’s cultural calendar is jampacked, with highlights including the tenday Ghent Festivities in July and the annual international film festival in October.

Idyllic countryside Nearby Geraardsbergen is the entrance to the Flemish Ardennes’ rolling hills and idyllic countryside, while beautiful Beervelde Park is an absolute must in an area renowned for its horticulture.

Architectural delights Meanwhile, the picturesque town of Oudenaarde is brimming with architectural delights, including one of Belgium’s most impressive town halls. Also worth a visit is Aalst, which earned its nickname as the ‘city of onions’ due to the development of onion farming here and in the surrounding districts in the 19th century.

Garden days at Park of Beervelde . Photo: Park van Beervelde

Belfry (Belfort) Ghent. Photo: Artoria

Step back in time Another town to put on your to-do list is Sint-Niklaas, which boasts an array of attractive Art Nouveau and Art Deco houses, as well as a large market space. From Sint-Niklaas, you can visit countless charming historic towns and villages. Start planning your trip to East Flanders now at:

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  43

Discover Benelux  |  Discover East Flanders  |  Top Places to Eat & Drink

A real classic Belgium food experience in an old fermette TEXT: DEBBY GROOTEMAN  |  PHOTOS: CORBOO

For tourists who want to enjoy the real Burgundian, Belgian cuisine, restaurant Corboo is the place to go to. The restaurant can be found just ten minutes from the city centre of Ghent and is located in a 200-year-old fermette. Original elements from the farmhouse are still visible both on the inside and the outside, which fits well with the classic menu they are serving. The menu at restaurant Corboo consists of delicious dishes that are made with top ingredients only, with everything freshly prepared in the restaurant kitchen by owner and chef Alexander Corbisier. “From the biscuits we serve to the bread and the ice cream, we make everything from scratch. Since the restaurant only works with seasonal products, the menu also changes regularly. We cook mostly with local ingredients from the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Lamb from the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands and fish from the North Sea are good examples of what we serve. In the end, it all depends on what is on offer and the season. In 44  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

summer, for example, the fresh seafood platter is a big hit.” The restaurant is famous for the fresh game dishes that are offered from mid-September till January. The meat, like pheasant and hare, is cooked in a classic style, and served with a matching wine. In fact, with all items on the menu, the restaurant puts great detail into the accompanying wines. “We offer more than 200 different wines, mostly from France, Spain, Italy and Austria. We really appreciate Austrian wine, since it is the leader in organic wines.”

linens and crystal glassware. And, of course, comfortable seats. There is plenty of space around the tables so the guests are not packed together. We want them to savour the experience of a special lunch or dinner.” When the weather allows it, guests can also be seated on the terrace that offers a Provençal look and feel. One part is covered with vines, the other part is surrounded by olive trees. Tourists will find that the dishes and special menus at Corboo are very fairly priced. And this year, the restaurant also got a special mention in the Gault & Millau guide.

Inside, the restaurant’s decor can be described as classic, in keeping with the menu. “We offer set tables with white


Discover Benelux  |  Discover East Flanders  |  Top Places to Eat & Drink

Ellen and Olivier.

A gastronomical Spanish oasis in Aalst TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: GASTROBAR SAVIDA

A stone’s throw from the main square of Aalst, one of Flanders’ cosiest city’s, you will find Gastrobar Savida, a culinary paradise with a Spanish edge. Don’t expect century-old recipes and Iberian classics here, however, but instead, allow yourself to be surprised by pure and refined dishes with a Spanish soul. “Savida means ‘the life’ in Balearian Catalan,” explains chef Olivier de Kegel, who runs the business alongside his wife Ellen. “We came up with the name on a holiday in Ibiza. Both of us love Spain and, throughout the years, we have seen quite a bit of the country. When we are there, we also love to go for dinner and be inspired by their rich and pure flavours. So, when we decided to open a restaurant ourselves, we just couldn’t resist bringing those Spanish flavours into our kitchen as well.”

Nonetheless, Gastrobar Savida is not your run-of-the-mill tapas bar. Instead, De Kegel mixes classic Spanish ingredients like chorizo and ‘jamón ibérico’ with traditional Flemish products like prawns and North Sea lobster. The essential concept of tapas stays afoot, though: the menu counts plenty of small dishes from which you can take your pick. “Yet, that’s where the comparison stops. Unlike classic tapas, our dishes are not meant to be shared. Furthermore, they are way more refined than the Spanish classics. We never combine more than three flavours on a plate, so as to give all those great ingredients the attention they deserve.” For the full experience, you had best opt for the Experience Menu (80 euros): a selection of nine delicious and diverse plates; some from the general menu, others created especially for the set menu. Of-

ten, the most popular dishes from recent weeks appear in this excellent selection. “And nothing complements a Spanish meal better than a good glass of wine. 80 per cent of our wine list comes from the Iberian Peninsula and, upon request, we even serve our Experience Menu with all-Spanish selected wines.” Yet, that refined food and elaborate wine list stand not in the way of the restaurant’s informal and warm atmosphere. Instead of long table cloths and sterling silver tableware, they have filled their elegant restaurant with minimalist, marble tables and modern cutlery. “For us, it is vital that our guests have a great time. And, they definitely don’t have to dress up for that.”


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  45

Discover Benelux  |  Discover East Flanders  |  Top Art & Culture Spots

A local history with universal ambitions TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: PAM ENAME

Visiting Ename is like visiting history. This famous Belgian heritage village has preserved and reconstructed the history of its community and the natural environment for more than 1,000 years. Fascinating stories come at you from every direction; from the archeological site with the remainders of a Benedictine abbey, to the protected forest Bos t’Ename, and the beautifully restored Saint-Laurentius Church, a unique monument from the year 1000. The provincial heritage site pam Ename is where all stories come together.

“Ename first emerges in history in a context of political tensions and military defence,” begins Marie-Claire Van der Donckt, conservator at heritage site Ename. “When the political map was rearranged in 843 due to the splitting up of Charlemagne’s empire and the French and German empires came to face each other, German Emperor Otto II founded Ename as one of his main frontier sites.” From the 960s, when Ename’s castle was founded, the centre developed into a blooming settlement with an important harbour, a market, and two churches, perfectly representing life in medieval times.

These two stories form the central narrative of pam Ename. Via a selective collection of historical objects and interactive stories through films and virtual reality, it lets visitors experience Ename as a village community on the one hand, while at the same time shows the Ottonian centre as an outstanding military, ecclesiastical and economic site. By combining these local and international elements, pam Ename shows archaeological remainders in a way that transcends the material side. It shows the human story behind this mysterious village - and makes its people come to life.


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Discover Benelux  |  Discover East Flanders  |  Top Art & Culture Spots

A circle of creation Renowned for spotting emerging talent, organising exhibitions, artist villages and the recurring large-scale event Coup de Ville, the art platform WARP was founded to promote contemporary art in Sint-Niklaas. Connecting the artistic scenes from Ghent and Antwerp, WARP’s progressive approach mediates playfully between the local and global cultural context. During WARP’s week-long event Artist Villages, upcoming artists from all over the world get the chance to meet industry professionals, discuss their work and receive feedback to kick-start their international career. The most promising of these artists


become part of WARP’s inner circle. This facilitates opportunities in other countries, and of course in the platform’s own 19th-century dwelling in central Sint-Niklaas. The 1,200 square-metre manor, with several exhibition spaces, an artist residency and large garden, once belonged to artist Jan Buytaert, who wrote in his will that his home should be turned into a cultural destination. Following the necessary renovations, the building now hosts short-term exhibitions padded out with readings and workshops around the chosen theme. While the displays are ever changing, WARP keeps a close eye on the artists’ works and often invites them back for more.

Coup de Ville 2013. Photo: Adrien Tirtiaux

Coup de Ville 2013. Photo:Carlos Aires

WARP’s largest event, the triennial Coup de Ville, is a citywide tour with art integrated into different locations throughout Sint-Niklaas. For the first time since its launch in 2010, WARP has given the artists a specific theme – Chasing Flowers. From the concept of beauty, to economics and migration, and reproduction – all artists choose their own angle to add to a concept that takes over the city. Coup de Ville: Chasing Flowers will be on display in 2020.


Coup de Ville 2016. Photo: Jonas Vansteenkiste

Craftsmanship interwoven with contemporary art TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTO: GALERIJ THEAXUS

Growing up in the Belgian town of Oudenaarde, Dorothea Van De Winkel became fascinated by local tapestry traditions at a young age. Later on, she decided to make her own tapestries and followed a multitude of training courses. The textile artist works on a traditional Basse-Lisse loom to transform pencil drawings into beautiful hand-woven tapestries. Galerij Theaxus is situated in the picturesque village of Kwaremont, where designer and textile weaver Van De Winkel demonstrates

her skills on the loom before guiding visitors through the exhibition area. “Tapestry weaving is labour intensive, but I use a modern technique which is faster than in the olden days,” says Van De Winkel. “The biggest pieces I make are 240 by 185 centimetres, and it takes me four to five months to complete one. That is, if I work eight hours a day, five days a week. But I have been known to get very engrossed in my work. When there’s an exhibition coming up, I have to work faster to be finished in time. Luckily, I have a very devoted mother who supports me.”

Van De Winkel’s work has been exhibited abroad and has won several prizes. Her original designs originate in her head. “I draw my memories, my thoughts,” she says. “With a pencil I pour them into abstract shapes, or my own figurative graphics. Then I might add some colour with paint. I enlarge the picture by hand and use that design as the basis for my tapestry.” Galerij Theaxus’ exhibitions also host other artists, with a variety of art forms on show. The gallery is well worth a visit for those who appreciate craftsmanship interwoven with contemporary art. Galerij Theaxus, Ommegangstraat 3, 9690 Kluisbergen-Kwaremont, Belgium


Dorothea Van De Winkel.


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  47

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Fedja van Huêt


A man of mystery Dutch actor Fedja van Huêt has been captivating audiences ever since he made his breakthrough in the Oscar-winning crime film Karakter (Character) in 1997. He has since gone on to scoop three prestigious Golden Calf awards, not to mention his countless critically-acclaimed theatre and television roles. This August, he will hit Dutch television screens once again, starring in the eagerly anticipated eight-part thriller series Grenslanders (Borderlands). We caught up with the 46-year-old actor to discuss drama, mystery, and his recently discovered French roots. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: BOWIE VERSCHUUREN

“The interesting thing about making a film is that all the elements have to come together for it to be a success,” begins van Huêt. “That happens sometimes, but not a lot!” Of course, one of van Huêt’s earliest roles was a prime example of what happens when all those favourable elements come together. The actor was just 24 when he received international acclaim for his role playing ambitious young lawyer Jacob Willem Katadreuffe in Karakter, which won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1998. Van Huêt describes making the film, an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Dutch writer Ferdinand Bordewijk, as an “amazing” experience. “I was in my last year at Maastricht Academy of Dramatic Arts and then I did Karakter. I’m a lucky guy!” he smiles.

Step back in time Van Huêt was born in 1973 in The Hague, and showed an aptitude for performing arts from a young age. The actor had always wondered where his love of acting came from, and recently participated in the Dutch version of the genealogy series

Who Do You Think You Are? in a bid to find out more about his roots.

from?’, and I didn’t know before that I had French roots. I can say I’m French now!”

“I always said that was the one programme I’d like to do,” recalls van Huêt of his appearance on Verborgen Verleden (Who Do You Think You Are?) back in February. “They check you out first and see if they can find a story that’s interesting enough. I said ‘well, if you don’t find anything then I don’t want to do the show’!”

Van Huêt usually prefers to keep his personal life separate from his career, although he’s glad he made an exception to this rule for Verborgen Verleden.

Fortunately, the research revealed some fascinating connections, with van Huêt admitting the whole experience was “actually really touching”. “I discovered I come from a line of military people — that was for me a big surprise!” he explains. “Even though I didn’t know those people, it’s very personal. They’re still family even though they’re far away.”

A little ‘je ne sais quoi’ The actor was also chuffed to discover a Gallic link. “I have a little bit of an exotic look. I was wondering where that came from. People aways ask ‘where are you

“The people who make that programme are great people. It was an adventure of a week and I really enjoyed it. I don’t do a lot of personal stuff as I prefer to play characters rather than getting attention being myself. But that was very well done, I felt very comfortable.” British audiences are currently gripped by van Huêt’s role in the thriller Overspel (The Adulterer), which debuted on Channel 4 earlier this year. In it, he plays lawyer Willem Steenhouwer, who embarks on an affair with a photographer (Sylvia Hoeks) and becomes drawn into a web of murder and deceit. “For me that was actually a long time ago [the programme ran in the Netherlands over three seasons from 2011 to 2015]. When it was on Dutch television it had Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  49

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Fedja van Huêt

good ratings and people enjoyed it, and now I’m getting even more reactions,” he enthuses. “It was a good script with great actors — people I’d wanted to work with for a long time.” Van Huêt has had his fair share of juicy roles, and is especially excited about his part playing journalist Bas Haan in the upcoming film The Judgement alongside Yorick van Wageningen. “It’s a very good script and I think a very important film. It’s based on the true story of the Deventer murder case [a cause célèbre in the Netherlands]. It’s about trial by media, which is very interesting given the times we’re living in.”

Flying high Also on the horizon is Vliegende Hollanders (Flying Dutchmen), a series about the early days of commercial aviation. In it, van Huêt plays Dutch aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker, while Daan Schuurmans plays Albert Plesman, founder of the Dutch airline KLM. “Fokker — that’s a difficult name to say in English — was one of the pioneers of building planes,” enthuses van Huêt, pointing out that he’s also just finished shooting a drama series about pilots in the 1960s. “Funnily enough, I’ve recently finished another project with an aviation theme called Highflyers. We shot in Arizona on a military

Fedja van Huêt is the star of upcoming thriller series Grenslanders (Borderlands). Photo: AVROTROS

base. It was unbelievable! It made me feel like a little boy again,” he laughs, conceding that he wasn’t actually that mad about airplanes as a kid. “I didn’t have model planes in my bedroom or anything,” he grins. So what was van Huêt like when he was younger? “When I was in high school I was in a lot of bands,” he recalls. A keen drummer, could he have made it as a musician rather than an actor? “Maybe. But I was an ok dummer, not a great drummer and it’s a difficult profession,” muses the star. “I was lucky to get my chance to show what I can do as an actor. People have to see something in you, so I’m counting my blessings.”

Despite having earned a reputation as one of the leading actors in the Netherlands, van Huêt admits that auditions can still be a draining process. “It’s a difficult thing,” he says. “You have to be comfortable with criticism. You have to have a thick skin and you have to know how to cope with disappointment.”

Lucky man With Dutch actors like Michiel Huisman and van Huêt’s Overspel co-star Sylvia Hoeks making a name for themselves in Hollywood, could van Huêt be tempted to follow in their footsteps? “I think if I really wanted that I would have to be more active — you have to move to either London or the States to really get involved. Occasionally you can do an e-casting. But that’s also very difficult because you have to learn a lot of lines for the next day and then film yourself with your phone. You might get further, but then at the end it’s a no. So that’s a lottery,” he concludes, admitting that while he wouldn’t rule anything out, he is already happy enough with the cards he’s been dealt. “I don’t really have a strong urge. I have family here and I can play good parts already. But if the opportunity arose, then of course!”

Grenslanders (Borderlands). Photo: AVROTROS

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Grenslanders starts 25 August, 8.15 pm on NPO.

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  51

Photo: 5 Terres Hôtel & Spa


Enjoy culture, gastronomy and natural beauty Being at the heart of Europe, the Benelux region is spoiled for choice when it comes to travel. The region’s most covetable neighbour has to be France, with its world-class culture, famous cuisine and diverse scenery. It comes as no surprise that this magnificent country consistently tops the list of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

Photo: Hotel Restaurant Keimberg

52  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Tourism Special  |  France

Photo: Abbaye d’Auberive


Wine route

France is of course famous for its romantic capital city, the glamorous French Riviera and the fairytale castles of the Loire Valley, yet there are many more delights just waiting to be discovered. If you are a fan of the great outdoors, one of the country’s most scenic areas has to be the Champagne-Ardenne region, with its unspoiled nature and peaceful forests making it a superb spot for hiking. The Der Lake and the four lakes of the Langres area, not to mention countless rivers and ponds, also make this idyllic area popular with fans of water-sports and fishing.

Also only a short journey from the Benelux region is the Alsace region, with its postcard-perfect towns and villages, superb vineyards and just a hint of Germanic flavour. With their brightly coloured cottages and medieval ramparts, the Alsace wine villages have a fairytale-like quality. During the summertime, there are many wine festivals taking place in the villages along the Alsatian Wine Route. Oenophiles will not want to miss the picturesque hotspots of Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Kaysersberg and Bergheim.

Photo: Agence Phot Urop - Office de Tourisme Sarlat Périgord Noir

Meanwhile, if cycling is your thing, Alsace has a combination of short and long-distance bike routes, and the region is crossed by three EuroVelo routes including the EuroVelo 15 - Rhine Cycle Route, from Andermatt to Rotterdam.

Foodie paradise Fancy heading further south? Then you absolutely must visit the Dordogne department in southwest France. The beautiful town of Sarlat-la-Canéda boasts some of the region’s best-preserved medieval architecture, with picturesque narrow streets and Gothic and Renaissance mansions aplenty. Foodies will delight in the region’s mouthwatering duck specialties, while the lively markets are a feast for the senses.

Photo: Domaine du Hirtz

Need some help planning your trip? Read on for a guide to some of our favourite places in ‘la belle France’.

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  53


Hotel & Spa 5-Terres is a hotel for lovers of great food and fine wine, of luxury pampering and striking design, deeply rooted in its locale. Sometimes, travellers in identikit international hotel surroundings can briefly wonder which region, country or even continent they’re in. That’s unlikely to happen in the extraordinary 5-Terres Hotel & Spa, a four-star MGallery Collection hotel in Barr, the wine capital of Alsace. It starts with the name, recalling the five soil types in which Alsace’s wines gain their individuality, and reflects the pride owner Jean-Daniel Seltz has in his property. “This building dates from the 16th century. We undertook a huge amount of work to restore it, so today our guests can 54  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

enjoy an atmospheric mix of traditional and contemporary in a superb location on Barr’s historic Town Hall Square, surrounded by forests and vineyards, and at the foot of Mont Saint-Odile.”

Two builders Master mason David Kellerknecht constructed the building five centuries ago as a meeting place for Barr’s leading citizens, and thanks to its strategic location – within easy striking distance of Strasbourg, Basel, Freiburg and even Luxembourg and Flanders – and conference facilities to cater for select business gatherings, it serves a similar function today – albeit for a wider clientele. M. Seltz has another affinity with his medieval forebears too – his company, Seltz Constructions, rebuilt the place; he selected all the materials; and he designed

each room. “We have top-quality materials available locally: for example, all the leather comes from a friend’s tannery nearby – he also supplies Hermès.” The design retains the original site’s ambiance, with robust oak beams and Vosges sandstone, married with modern touches like a glass cover over the lobby that floods it with light, to produce something cosy and human. “Along with the functionality and the look of the décor, we wanted to build in the sensual,” says Seltz, “so the natural scent of wood blends with the luxurious aroma fine leather gives, and even the stone adds to that.” When it comes to the pleasures of the senses, however, it’s the restaurant and

Discover Benelux  |  France  |  Top Hotels

extremely impressive wine cellar that lead the way: “Our two chefs Axelle and Mathias Stelter have amazing resumés, including time with Alain Ducasse at Monaco’s Louis XV. On the menu, you’ll find classics like foie gras, a dish representative of the cuisine here that aims to keep the qualities of the finest produce front and centre, especially truly local foods like slowly braised ham hock. It’s generous cooking, both gourmet and gourmand, meant for the taste buds, not the eyes!” says Jean-Daniel.

Fine wines aplenty Foodies will experience no problems in finding the very best wine pairings for those dishes: “The accent here is very much on wine,” Seltz continues. “Major objectives here have been to have one of the finest wine cellars in Alsace, something we believe we’ve already achieved; and to put the accent on biodynamic, organic and natural wines. Soon, there’ll be more than 1,000 different wines avail-

able for diners and our wine bar. This will include, of course, a great many from Alsace, but our stock covers the whole of France, with some top Italian wines as well. Barr is surrounded by grand crus from famous places like Mittelbergheim and Kirchberg, but also by smaller, less famous growers we admire. We’ve focused on vignerons who work closely with their vines and the earth in which they grow. They may not all be great names, but they are great winemakers!”

Relaxing spa Of course, there’s another part of the complex that stimulates the senses: its extensive spa, marketed under the clearly merited marque SPA A. Located in the cellars of the hotel, it features a swimming pool and three treatment cabins, and employs four trained practitioners who pamper their clientele with the decidedly high-end Gemology range of products in their treatments, formulated using precious and semi-precious stones.

That side of the business and others are soon to expand. Currently, the hotel has 27 bedrooms, including several suites, but within the next 18 months, another 20 or so will be added, along with an outdoor swimming pool, gym and a major extension to the space taken up by the spa. A further development, is that recently purchased land 150 metres from the hotel is to be a new secure parking lot, a move perhaps symbolic of Jean-Daniel’s philosophy of continuing incremental changes: “The 5-Terres is already, I believe, one of Alsace’s top four hotels, but we’ll keep improving,” he says. Proud of the 9.3/10 rating on a well-known booking site, Jean-Daniel wants to push that to 9.5/10. And it’s hard to imagine he’ll be happy to stop there. Web: Facebook: 5terreshotelspa.MGallery Instagram: @5terreshotelspa

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  55

Discover Benelux  |  France  |  Top Hotels


When Christian Jacky, owner, manager and resident chef of the Hotel Restaurant Keimberg in Cleebourg, took it over in 2012, he gave it its first revamp in 40 years. “Environment was a priority,” he explains, “and I knew I wanted raw materials and clean energy from the get-go.” His commitment paid off with an ambitious ground-coupled heat exchanger – which uses the near constant subterranean temperature to warm or cool air sustainably – that has proven skeptics wrong. Alsatian food needs no introduction, and the hotel’s cosy restaurant offers an updated take on local classics. “We use regional ingredients and offer a truly homemade experience. We even cure and smoke our ham and fish ourselves,” beams Jacky. The 13 rooms (eight doubles and six suites) have all been modernised in a minimalist style with warm touches of wood. The beautiful 19th-century building also boasts an outdoor heated pool that is open all year round. “Visitors can expect authentic, unadulterated peace here,” says Jacky. “We are a real haven off the beaten track.” For de56  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

spite the popularity of southern Alsace (namely Strasbourg and Colmar), northern areas only attract a small crowd of discerning travellers, making them a soulful retreat for wine and nature lovers. The highly unusual wine cooperative, operated by five villages over 200 hectares, is a key local attraction offering wine tastings and cellar tours. It started off as a federative project in 1946 and has been going strong ever since. Alsace holds a special place in history books, and history buffs will rejoice at Cleebourg’s proximity to The Maginot Line fort at Schoenenbourg. Completely restored, it offers comprehensive tours, including the kitchens, barracks and retractable gun turrets.

road trips, organised by avid motorcyclist Jacky himself. “The area is wonderful, with wineries, forests and greenery aplenty, and the gentle slopes make it an ideal walking holiday for all generations, from children to 100-year-olds,” he states. Cleebourg is only a short drive away from quintessentially Alsatian spots, such as the villages of Hunspach and Seebach – with their colourful half-timbered houses and floral arrangements – and medieval beauty Wissembourg. The area proudly displays its heritage and, seemingly forgotten by time, gives visitors a taste of what life was like half a century ago.

Nature is another draw here, and the hotel offers electric bike rentals and motorcycle


Discover Benelux  |  France  |  Top Hotels


Located in Wattwiller, Alsace, the Domaine du Hirtz offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life, and is a leader in eco-tourism. While you’ll be tempted by its cosy, nature-themed rooms or wine tours through nearby villages, the Domaine du Hirtz’s Nordic Spa is undoubtedly its main asset. In the Parc Natural Régional des Ballons des Vosges, in France’s Alsace region, rolling hills meet dark green pine trees, cows roam freely and wildflowers bloom. Nestled deep in these woods is the Domaine du Hirtz, offering chalet-style rooms and relaxation with a natural touch. The Domaine du Hirtz prides itself on tailoring the hotel experience to each client’s needs. Their ten studios are perfect for couples or small families, while 12 lodges accommodate larger families or groups. Its Chalet Convivial is perfect for weddings, seminars or receptions. And what better way to spend time with family and friends than at the Domaine’s Nordic Spa, which offers a one-of-a-kind

spa experience. Employing the concept of thermo-relaxation, guests alternate between hot and cold sessions to rid the body of toxins and improve circulation, the Scandinavian way. The spa offers more than 16 services, and is constantly growing. With a total of 2,500 square metres, it offers three saunas, two hammams, four massage and treatment spaces, four indoor and outdoor pools, four rest areas, two mineral spaces, sensory and Nordic showers, a fitness room and a restaurant. “Guests can create a personalised circuit, choosing from our completely unique offering,” says Floria Drieux, spa manager at Domaine du Hirtz. “We can even be rented out for special events, where guests get their own chalet, plus free access to a healthy and detoxification buffet, plus private entry to the spa.” And no need to be a guest at the Domaine du Hirtz to benefit from the spa’s relaxing properties – it’s open to the public as well. Apart from its spa, the Domaine du Hirtz has plenty of activities to entertain guests. Its Auberge serves up traditional, regional

dishes using seasonal ingredients, and its ‘Musical Thursdays’ feature new groups in various genres each month. The hotel is also committed to ecotourism and sustainability. Strap on your hiking boots and check out the trails in the nearby national park, or enjoy the peace and quiet of the rooms, far from the buzz of the city. “We organise events all year long,” says Marine Gregorc, communications officer at Domaine du Hirtz. “From Halloween parties and treasure hunts to hikes in the national park, there’s something for both children and adults.”


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  57

Photo: Dominique Piot

Apples and art in a Cistercian abbey TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: ABBAYE D’AUBERIVE

Set in the heart of what will soon be France’s 11th national park, Auberive Abbey is a most unusual place. The historic 12th-century building, with beautiful orchards growing ancient apple varieties, also doubles up as a contemporary art centre. Thanks to the vision and dedication of the Volot family, it has become an unmissable spot for nature, art and history enthusiasts alike.

Love at first sight Alexia Volot comes from a family of collectors, with over 2,500 works from international artists and a clear focus on figurative expressionism and ‘outsider art’ – art generally made by autodidacts that sits outside the boundaries of offi58  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

cial culture. “It’s fascinating when people suddenly see the potential of a material not traditionally meant for art, such as seashells, peels or fabric,” enthuses Volot. “So what we have now is akin to a cabinet of curiosities.” Her parents had been searching all over France for the right spot to showcase their growing collection. “They looked at castles, old factories and modern buildings, but when they visited the abbey in 2004, it was love at first sight,” she explains. They convinced her to leave Paris behind and join them on their art adventure, of which she is now an integral part.

The abbey’s nine lives A listed monument, Auberive Abbey is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1135 by

Bernard of Clairvaux, the future St Bernard. It was entirely rebuilt during the 18th century, before heritage conservation came to be, and was privately owned between 1791 and 1856. The French state then acquired the abbey, which became a women’s prison for three decades. Between 1885 and 1924, it functioned as a workhouse for minor delinquents and a farming camp for boys, whose time was split between farm work and rudimentary education. It was rebought by monks in 1930 and, by the time Volot’s family bought it, it was used as a summer camp for the works council of Belgian giant Solvay. Saying it has left its mark on the area would be an understatement. Even the 5,000 hectares of neighbouring forests, which will

Discover Benelux  |  France  |  Top Places to Visit

Sam Le Rol, La Sirène.

be encompassed in the upcoming 11th French national park, once belonged to the abbey.

A wealth of rare apples Though the building warrants a visit in itself, its three orchards, set over six and a half hectares, are undoubtedly another highlight. There are around 70 trees (mostly apples, with some pears and plums), including varieties so rare that some can’t be found anywhere else in France. So much so, that Volot’s family teamed up with a local apple conservation organisation in an attempt to safeguard existing varieties and replant more fruit trees. “Each variety had its own use back in the day,” she explains. “They bore fruit for alcohol-making, roast-

Cristine Guinamand, Météores.

ing or as fodder for animals. But we’re not that discerning today, we just press the lot!” The yearly production of about 1,000 kilogrammes is sent to the local press, where it is juiced and bottled up before returning to the abbey. “It has an indescribable depth of flavour. We actually have some die-hard fans who come especially every year and buy it by the caseload,” she adds.

Current exhibition The family curate a yearly exhibition, selecting specific artists or themes from their wide collection. This summer, the exhibition titled Recueillir les Histoires (Collecting Stories) focuses on three radically different artists linked by one core similarity: the art of storytelling. Expres-

sionist Cristine Guinamand’s large-scale colourful paintings suck the audience into a heavenly universe, only to confront them, upon closer look, to a bleaker reality. Algerian-born Kamel Khélif is a talented illustrator who delves into exile and cultural inadequacy in largely grey and brown-toned works, which are deeply rooted in his family history. The third artist is the late Sam Le Rol, a former cabinet-maker who developed a quirky passion for shells and obsessively created hundreds of intricate architectural reproductions and fairytale scenes. “It goes to show that human creativity doesn’t belong to a certain elite. When it comes over someone, it can really take over,” muses Volot.

Visitor information The contemporary art centre is open from Sunday 2 June to Sunday 29 September 2019. Tuesday: 2pm – 6.30pm Wednesday to Sunday: 10am – 12.30am and 2pm – 6.30pm The rest of the abbey is open all year round. Audio guides are available in four languages (French, English, Danish and Dutch) and apps are provided in French, Italian and Spanish.


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  59

Discover Benelux  |  France  |  Top Places to Visit

Cooking demonstration. Photo:Agence Phot Urop

Goose Festival marching band. Photo: Mathieu Anglada

La Roque Gageac village. Photo: Dominique Repérant


Walking through the romantic town of Sarlat feels like stepping into a history book. But this bustling town is far from a sleeping beauty. It hosts dozens of cultural and food festivals every year, making it a lively base to explore the Perigord region – the land of chateaux, gastronomy and French ‘art de vivre’. Built in honey-coloured local stone, Sarlat is known for having the highest concentration of historic and classified monuments in France – 78 over 11 hectares. The town’s bi-weekly markets brim with tantalising local delicacies, while sunset casts another spell: “We have authentic all-gas lighting throughout the town,” explains Katia Veyret, head of communication at the Sarlat tourism office, “which really enhances our unique architecture

and takes you back in time”. Unsurprisingly, countless films have been shot there, including classics such as The Four Musketeers and Les Misérables. The town capitalises on its emblematic animal, the goose, during Fest’Oie, a gastronomic festival offering cooking classes, a goose contest and an extravagant all-you-can-eat 15-course waterfowl and foie gras meal. But the star event is undeniably the truffle festival, which takes place in January. Food tastings, tapas bars, oenology courses and a handful of Michelin-starred chefs judging a cooking competition make for an eventful weekend. Locals as well as visitors delight in the town’s annual Christmas market, which is ranked in the country’s top five most beautiful markets – no meagre feat

for a southern town. Film, theatre and art each also have their own festival, sprinkled throughout the year. The beauty of Sarlat, however, extends far beyond the town itself: “We are known for our castles and manors, with many clustered in a 20-kilometre perimeter around the city,” says Veyret. You can visit Joséphine Baker’s old home, le Chateau des Milandes, or the stunning hanging gardens of the Château de Marqueyssac, with its roaming peacocks. The latter is close to two of the country’s most beautiful villages: Beynac, with its famous hilltop castle and winding lanes, and photogenic La Roque Gageac, with golden stone houses nestled between limestone cliffs and the Dordogne river (a UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve). The area also boasts some prehistoric gems, such as the neighbouring and world-famous Lascaux caves. Whether you’re into food, history, architecture, art or wildlife, the Dordogne is the place for you.

Truffle fine dining. Photo: Mathieu Anglada

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Evening lighting. Photo: Mathieu Anglada



The taste of happiness! Belgium is famous for its array of gourmet specialties, with Belgian chocolate undoubtedly topping the list. From truffles to pralines, not to mention chocolate bars from the most iconic brands in the world, there is something to delight all tastes. Read on for a mouthwatering ‘taste of Flanders’. PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  61

For the love of chocolate TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK  |  PHOTOS: BELCOLADE

Preserving the heritage of real Belgian Chocolate is their biggest goal. The family recipes are still in use and perfected over the years, but the company also safeguards the future of chocolate with their sustainable cacao programme.

Belgian chocolate: probably the best pairing of words. Its reputation has always been one of great taste and superior quality. In the village of Erembodegem, Belcolade, the real Belgian chocolate brand of Puratos, produces some of the best chocolate the country has to offer.

Sustainability as win-win

Belcolade was founded in 1988 and has remained a family business. The owners’ love for chocolate is much more than always pursuing the highest quality ingredients and achieving superior taste.

Puratos’ sustainability programme is called Cacao-Trace. It has all the required parts of sustainable certification, but with an additional element. The fermentation of the cocoa beans is fully under the control of the company. It is just as great wine de-

62  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

pends on how its grapes are fermented, the more expertly fermented the cocoa beans, the better the final chocolate will taste. In post-harvest centres close to cocoa farmers, expert fermenters monitor and improve the fermentation process and check the quality of the cocoa beans. This ensures Belcolade Cacao-Trace chocolate will have a consistently exceptional taste. Laura Remory explains: “Our sustainable cocoa sourcing programme (consistency) is an added value for everyone. From growing the cocoa to the end customer,

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of Flanders

everything is done with a long-term perspective. This is how we improve the taste of our chocolate; by increasing the quality of the ingredients in our chocolate.” Also, elaborating on the close relationship with the farmers, Laura continues: “at Belcolade we love long-term thinking and good partnerships. The farmers are trained and educated on growing the best quality cocoa beans and preserving the fragile ecosystem.”

Per kilogramme of chocolate sold, ten cents goes back to the farming communities. It is comparable to one or two extra months of salary each year. “The love for chocolate ensures the future of chocolate,” says Remory. “By creating value with better tasting chocolate and sharing that value back with cocoa farming communities, we believe we increase the durability and build on a sustainable future for chocolate.”

The chocolate bonus

Puratos has close and long-term relationships with farmers in Vietnam, IvoryCoast, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The goal is to expand to more countries every year: however, only if it can be done as a long-term partnership.

For chocolate famers, it can be difficult to provide a good life for their families, and children of the farmers often decide to work elsewhere to make more money. On the other hand, the global demand for good-quality chocolate is increasing by the day. “Therefore, we chose to not only pay the Cacao-Trace farmers a premium for good quality cacao, but also to give an additional chocolate bonus.”

Shades of chocolate Besides the strong investment in sustainable production and looking for the world’s best chocolate, Belcolade also

hosts workshops for professionals such as pastry chefs, culinary artists and others involved in chocolate. Remory: “We demonstrate chocolate techniques for professionals, teach them new recipes and we are always innovating.” The latest book Bleu Chocolat illustrates 100 pieces of chocolate art that will blow your mind, the work of Belcolade chocolate genius and artist Stéphane Leroux. “It is all about the survival of the profession and the love for chocolate,” adds Remory. “Chocolate is so much more than only white, brown and dark chocolate. There is a richness and complexity about it that has more than three shades. We want to share that with the world.” Web:

Chocolate art by artist Stéphane Leroux, from the book Bleu Chocolat.

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of Flanders


Belgians are known across the globe for their love of chocolate. So, it comes as no surprise that one of the most famous chocolate brands in the world was founded here. Adorned with its famous elephant, Côte d’Or has been around for over a century, and has become synonymous with quality to people all over the world. “The original chocolate created more than 135 years ago is as popular today as it was back then,” begins Annick Verdegem, corporate affairs manager Benelux at Mondelēz International. Mondelēz owns the Côte d’Or brand, as well as other famous confectionary marks such as Toblerone, Oreo and Milka.

Unmistakeable Côte d’Or was founded in 1883. The name refers to the African ‘Gold Coast’, now known as Ghana. “From there, came the cocoa beans that created the pure and intense taste of the chocolate, 64  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

that we still have today. Although we have been innovating our chocolate and expanded our range to include up to 100 different products, the recipe has never changed. That it is why it is so iconic, and so recognisable to everyone.” At least 81 per cent of Belgians blindly recognise the taste of Côte d’Or, according to a test. Each Belgian person has their own consumption habits, too: some eat it with a slice of bread in the morning, some eat it as a snack and many more enjoy their favourite piece of Côte d’Or with a coffee.

Made ‘just right’ Cocoa is the essence of chocolate and Mondelēz International wants to ensure its chocolate is made the right way. That is why the company founded its Cocoa Life programme. “Cocoa is vital to our business but it is also our responsibility to empower and support cocoa farmers and their communities,” explains Verdegem. “Making it right means tackling the complex challenges that cocoa farmers face,

including climate change, gender inequality, poverty and child labour.” The programme began in 2012 to ensure all Mondelēz chocolate brands use 100 per cent sustainable chocolate by 2025. “To achieve this, we have invested over 400 million US dollars in cocoa farming communities around the world. By the end of 2018, we reached 142,875 cocoa farmers in 1,476 communities.”

Moments of joy In a 2018 poll, nearly two thirds of Belgians described chocolate as their ultimate ‘enjoyment-for-me’ moment. Côte d’Or has been a fundamental part of those happy times for over 135 years. “Chocolate is emotion, it’s part of who we are,” concludes Verdegem. Time to enjoy a tasty bite with a cup of coffee!






The future of automotive TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

There are more than a billion cars in the world and 1.25 million people die in road accidents annually. Both numbers are rising. Asia is embracing the automobile and gearing up to produce lots of them. The health of the European automotive industry, however, is far from assured.

What impact might this revolution have on Germany in particular, where the motor is the motor of the national economy and to some extent the European economy too? What if Germany realises too late that it was looking the wrong way, that a green transport revolution had crept up and left it standing?

Future watcher Tony Seba has a dramatic way of illustrating this. A 1900 photograph of New York shows a street full of horse-drawn vehicles and one motor car. A photograph taken ten years later shows the same street full of motor cars and one horse-drawn vehicle. Seba says we are about to experience another transport revolution so far-reaching that we won’t know what’s hit us; nor will the people whose economic survival is bound up with automotive production.

As diesel is phased out and US tech giants move in, some motor manufacturers are belatedly waking to the challenge: Volkswagen, for example, is now making a strong commitment to an electric future. But can Germany achieve the major and rapid transformation it needs to avoid massive economic and social disruption?

Demand for cars will decline in Europe. More young people are stigmatising car ownership. Electric cars and driverless vehicles will transform the way we move ourselves and things around. Uber is testing food deliveries by drone. 66  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

A recent conversation with a senior automotive executive in eastern Europe made me think that perhaps it is possible. She – a rare woman in the male-dominated world of automotive management – is already planning for a production downturn. She is training all her managers to focus on disruption and sustainable innovation. If they are not going to be producing cars in the future, how will they stay ahead?

What can they do to redirect a whole enterprise in new and as yet unpredictable directions? The Western petrol engine apocalypse could be imminent. Few senior managers I’ve talked to are taking action to deal with a world which is already turning upside down. It’s refreshing to meet someone who is taking the challenge seriously and trying to get the top men in her company to heed her warnings too.

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

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


Laracon EU.

International Conference on Economics and Business Management 13 - 14 August, Brussels, Belgium The IASTEM - 659th International Conference on Economics and Business Management (ICEBM) brings together cutting-edge academics and industrial experts from the economics and business fields. The conference’s primary goal is to promote research and developmental activities.

Global Legal Forum 14 - 16 August, The Hague, the Netherlands The Global Legal Forum 2019 will give you the chance to learn first-hand from leading change-makers in the legal industry. It is an unparalleled platform to

meet, interact and network with an array of inspiring legal experts.

Global Woman Club Brussels: Business Networking Breakfast 21 August, Brussels, Belgium Bringing together successful women from all around the world in an environment where they feel comfortable, Global Woman Club is an ever-expanding network where members can enjoy countless benefits. These hugely popular breakfast reunions are hosted regularly.

The Roast of your Leadership

perhaps you are just starting out? Hosted by psychologist Joel aan ’t Goor, this unmissable event will offer you an insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and help you understand how you can tackle these in an improved way.

Laracon EU 28 - 30 August, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Laravel enthusiasts from across the world will descend on the Dutch capital for this huge gathering hosted by Laracon EU. Listen to talks by leaders in the field and participate in motivating workshops.

27 August, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Are you a successful entrepreneur, or Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  67

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  MCM Emballages

Preserving food and the planet: yes they can! TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: MCM EMBALLAGES

MCM Emballages is a female-led family business and success story, created by Maryvonne Le Corre and co-managed by her two daughters, Cyrille Balaa de Manzini and Morgane Balaa. The French company, which specialises in professional and domestic food preservation, is the official supplier of famed German glass containers Wecks, in France and across Europe. Aside from its wide array of jars, sold on a wholesale or retail basis, MCM Emballages also offers autoclave sterilisers. Balaa de Manzini, the brand’s export and retail manager,

explains: “Our aim is to simplify a highly regulated process and offer all our clients a personalised, hands-on service through information and training, to save them both money and time.” The company’s visibility has increased exponentially in the last few years thanks to a string of high-profile collaborations with the likes of leading French agri-food business Fleury Michon and foie gras specialist Larnaudie. The TGV – France’s high-speed intercity rail service – now provides ready meals in glassware supplied by none other than MCM Emballages.

The ubiquitous jar has captured foodies’ imagination by tapping into current trends: pleasing minimalist shapes, fully recyclable materials and the hipster revival of food canning. “Now, you can enjoy strawberries in December guilt-free. Seasonality is respected without impacting nature’s cycle or compromising your carbon footprint,” beams Balaa de Manzini, “and no cold chain to boot!” Innovative techniques, which help foods retain all their flavour and goodness, have convinced farmers, delis, butchers, foodtrucks and ready-meal brands to hop on the bandwagon. Many hotels now also turn to it in peak season to keep up with high demand. Canning enthusiasts, artisans and large businesses alike are all flocking to MCM Emballages – and for good reason.


Discover Benelux  |  Culinary Profile in France  |  Celtic La Source

Naturally pristine Boasting exceptional purity, Celtic water is the pride of Niederbronn-les-Bains. All natural or lightly sparkling, the water is low in mineral and sodium content so it’s perfect for everyone. Nestled within the Northern Vosges Regional National Park is Niederbronn-les-Bains, a thermal town near the French-German border. Over 2,000 years ago, the Celts discovered what is now a major draw to this small Alsatian town – a lightly mineralised thermal spring. Now, Celtic is committed to bottling the purity of the nearby national park, declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Celtic water is naturally low in mineral content as well as sodium, making it perfect for pregnant women and the preparation of baby bottles. Those with high blood pressure or cardiovascular and kidney disorders can also benefit. Celtic water has thus been certified by France’s Ministry of Health. While Celtic water is flat, the company also offers a sparkling variety – infusing it with a CO2


gas naturally found in the Eifel region of Germany to create both light and strong bubbles. But Niederbronn-les-Bains’ thermal water is not only known for its clear, refreshing taste, it’s also entered into the region’s collective imagination. After discovering the pristine water source, the Celts erected the statue of a woman’s bust near the source as a symbol of fertility, and it can still be seen today. “Those hoping to have a child still come here to see the statue,” says Alain Andreolli, marketing director of Celtic water, “leaving fruit and vegetables in offering.” And given their proximity to nature, the environment is always of the utmost concern for Celtic. All of their plastic bottles are recyclable

Usine Celtic.

and they offer a glass bottle-only line. They’ve reduced their industrial energy consumption by 25 per cent. “We’re definitely concerned about the impact of our production conditions on the planet,” concludes Andreolli.


Putting community at the heart of multilingual learning TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: EIMLB / PATRIK BITOMSKY

Luxembourg is a diverse, vibrant country, which people of various nationalities call home. This multiculturalism is reflected nowhere better than at the École Internationale de Mondorf-les-Bains (EIMLB), situated in the country’s desirable Moselle region. The state-run international school, which is divided into a primary section (French and English) and secondary section (French, English and German), may have only opened in September last year, yet it has already earned a strong reputation, thanks not only to its pioneering pedagogical practices, but also due to the palpable sense of community amid pupils and staff. 70  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

EIMLB counts more than 20 nationalities among its student body, and is proud of its multicultural outlook. “We stress that each class should go for at least one pedagogical trip abroad per year. This could be skiing, or a visit to a major European city,” begins the school’s director Camille Weyrich.

Open to the world

“One of the strongest aspects of the European offer is the emphasis on language,” notes the director. As an ‘Accredited European School’, EIMLB offers the European Schools’ curriculum, which emphasises a multilingual and multicultural pedagogical approach. This leads to students leaving secondary school with the bilingual European Baccalaureate diploma.

The school follows the ‘European offer’, which was put into place by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Education. The European offer is public, and aims for social, democratic and cultural integration, highlighting the position of the school as a social elevator and as the impetus of the European spirit.

In terms of languages, the EIMLB offers students several choices. In the first year of primary school there are two language sections: French and English. Except for language classes, all subjects are taught in the language of the section. Students choose their first language (learned

Discover Benelux  |  Educational Profile of the Month  |  Luxembourg

at native level) from French, German, English and Portuguese. “This allows most students to use their native language at school,” explains the director. Students choose their second language from French, German and English. In secondary school, students chooses a third language among French, German, English and Portuguese. Then, in the fourth year of secondary school, a fourth language is taught as an option. Learning Luxembourgish is also compulsory for all pupils in primary school, and in the lower classes of secondary school.

The Dalton Plan In addition to the importance of language and communication, a major influence at EIMLB is the Dalton Plan, a teaching concept developed by American educator Helen Parkhurst (1887-1974). As a young teacher at a rural American school, Parkhurst was faced the challenge of having to teach a diverse range of students aged 4 to 14 in one class. Unable to meet the needs of each individual pupil using traditional teaching methods, Parkhurst created a course principle that allowed students to take ownership of content as independently and individually as possible, by working as often as possible in pairs, groups and autonomously. As Parkhurst discovered, when pupils follow their own interests, it has a huge influence on their individual rhythm and the learning success of each person. The school she founded in New York still exists to this day, and is one of the most esteemed schools in the United States, with an array of wellknown names from the arts, business and law amid its alumni. While there are similarities to the Maria Montessori’s child-centred educational approach, which is favoured in many primary schools, the Dalton Plan is especially well suited to independent learning in secondary pupils, and has been implemented in schools across the world. “At EIMLB we embrace the principles of the Dalton Plan, while following our own path in its pedagogical design,” reveals Mr Weyrich. ‘Freedom within a framework’, responsibility, cooperation and autono-

my all form the guidelines of education at EIMLB.

Collaboration While more traditional courses are also followed at the school, students are introduced to independent learning and cooperation with their peers. The goal is to reduce classes where the teacher is the sole focus, with an increased emphasis on the individual interest of each student and their own learning process. “This means the role of the teacher becomes less about providing discipline, and more about advising students in their learning.” Pupils are encouraged to interact and work constructively together – collaboration is at the heart of the learning experience. “It’s about the pupils working to support each other. The focus shouldn’t

be on the pupil as a ‘lone warrior’,” points out Mr Weyrich. Unlike traditional group work, students at EIMLB partake in a type of small group learning called ‘cooperative learning’, where each student has a responsibility for the group’s learning process. This creates a positive interdependency between the group members and has a positive effect on social interaction, as well as on the group’s academic results. Courses at EIMLB are organised in blocks of double lessons, meaning the number of subjects per day is limited and provides pupils with the necessary time to deal with a topic in depth, to practice and to review. “Pupils will deal with no more than three to five topics per day, with lessons only ever featuring a maximum of 45 minutes’ worth of traditional teaching,” notes Mr Weyrich. Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  71

Discover Benelux  |  Educational Profile of the Month  |  Luxembourg

Putting students at the centre For each six-week learning phase, teachers develop a detailed learning plan for their subjects and classes which can be customised for the particular needs of each student, depending on whether they are particularly gifted in one area or need extra help. “This approach really puts the child at the centre of their education, and gives them the time they need to get to grips with their learning. Some students need more time to focus on the basics, while others work faster and wouldn’t be challenged in a traditional lesson. The teacher can come up with special challenges for extra-performing students.” Learning plans are primarily implemented in the form of disciplinary or interdisciplinary projects called assignments. For each objective, students have enough educational material to practice and also check for themselves to what extent they have mastered a certain subject. “Working autonomously gives the student the chance to see how well they have understood the lesson, and if they have any problems they can ask their teacher.”

Independence The autonomy really comes into play with the pupils’ self-study periods, which happen during 12 lessons per week. During these sessions, teachers remain in the classroom, while pupils have the opportunity to work independently or visit

whichever teacher they may benefit from during that time. “This is a perfect opportunity for students who couldn’t keep up in the lesson to seek the support of their teacher. For example, a student could be advanced in English but require more support in maths, so during their autonomous session they could go to their maths teacher. This flexible timetable is a great way to cater for everyone without having to change the specific timetable,” enthuses the director.

Dalton Diary Each learner is responsible for managing their own Dalton Diary, in which they can

plan their individual learning process, plot their development goals and reflect on what they have learned at the end of each six-week period. Students are responsible for keeping their Dalton Diary up-to-date, and it forms an important link between teachers, students and parents.

Innovation After a successful introduction of iPads in classes this year, September will see the end of traditional paper workbooks for secondary school pupils. “Of course handwriting will always be important, but technology will always be important too – even more so in the future. It has been astonishing how quickly both the teachers and students have adapted to the iPad. They soon lost all their fears.”

Personal harmony Pupils at EIMLB are provided with a framework to ensure they develop their own sense of personal harmony. “We want to make sure students feel at ease at school,” insists the school’s assistant director Stephan Dumange. In the first three classes of secondary school, pupils are given their own ‘coach’ who they meet with every Friday to discuss any problems they might be having, as well as the positive aspects of their week. Furthermore, pupils have their own portfolio where they reflect in collaboration with their tutor on skills they have developed 72  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Educational Profile of the Month  |  Luxembourg

outside of traditional school subjects. This could be related to 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration. “This portfolio could prove to be more interesting to future employers than a student’s actual school results,” muses Mr Weyrich.

Democracy Citizenship is a key focus too, and pupils here learn to have a democratic spirit from an early age. For example, two representatives from each class regularly meet at the School Parliament to debate issues affecting the school community and the evolution of the school. “A democratic approach is practiced every day,” explains the director. “We want everyone to be involved in the processes and decisions that affect the school community.” The Parliament has a specific budget that it has to manage, helping pupils understand the importance of looking after finances. “It isn’t just a matter of teaching pupils about democratic structures, it’s about living within one,” points out Mr Weyrich. “The parliament offers us plenty of inspiration. When they have an idea about how things could be improved, we look to implement their feedback.” A class assembly also takes place every other week, providing pupils with an opportunity to address unanswered questions and discuss the needs of the class.

PowerPoint. “Even between children of the same cultural origin, differences in socialisation can appear, depending on the family environment and the environmental conditions in which the child is growing up,” explains Mr Dumange. “If differences are not explored, they can become misunderstood, and a cause of subconscious intolerances. So we decided that, once a year, we would have a day focusing on accepting the differences between all the types of people in the world.”

Self-expression Creativity is nurtured at EIMLB, with pupils being encouraged to express themselves. One of the ways in which they are motivated to do this is by the many opportunities for extra-curricular activities. “These help the pupils discover personal interests, which could be intellectual, creative or sporty. Just some of the activities include chess, drama, archery, robotics, or working on the school magazine,” reveals the director.

A school where tolerance flourishes Being compassionate and understanding are fundamental pillars at EIMLB, reflected by the school’s annual Acceptance Day. “One of the primary goals of any school should be to teach pupils about tolerance, respect and acceptance,” asserts Mr Weyrich. The first Acceptance Day took place on 10 May 2019, under the initiative of Mr Dumange. Pupils from both the primary cycle and the secondary cycle participated in Acceptance Day, with the school being transformed for half a day into a large platform of thematic workshops. Working in groups, pupils considered a main theme to discuss from a list of suggested examples of intolerance, such as xenophobia, homophobia and sexism, and gave presentations using a range of resources including video and Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  73

Discover Benelux  |  Educational Profile of the Month  |  Luxembourg

Support service All primary pupils can enrol at the school’s education and support service, SEA, which is located in the school building and is open Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm. The children are welcomed at SEA before classes begin, they then spend lunchtime there with the socio-educational staff and their classmates. Meanwhile, in the afternoon there are various extracurricular activities, as well as free play and the opportunity to receive help with homework. “I used to say that in a ‘traditional’ school, life began when the bell rang at the end of the day. But we offer a full-day model from 7am to 7pm. Real life happens at school. It’s not all about academic activities, it’s about getting to know each other and developing interests,” enthuses Mr Weyrich. During the school holidays, SEA remains open, organising various activities for the children including workshops, sports and excursions. “The children go on various outings around Luxembourg and the neighbouring countries. Today, for example, they have gone to the Eifel National Park in Germany,” smiles the director.

Finding their vocation The secondary school also has a socio-educational service, MESA (which stands for Motivation, Education, Social, Accompanying) and organises socioeducations projects in close collaboration with the teachers, as well as coordinating extracurricular activities, and much more. A successful MESA scheme involves organising day-trips to specific locations related to pupils’ particular talents. These could be related to sport, technology or the arts. “This really helps foster students’ specific interests. It means everyone gets to know about ‘real life’ outside school,” concludes Mr Weyrich. “Our pupils gain a true understanding into how the world works.” École Internationale Mondorf-les-Bains 2, route de Burmerange L-5659 Mondorf-les-Bains

To find out more about EIMLB visit:

74  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Hotel of the Month  |  Luxembourg

A nature journey back in time TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: HOTEL DU MOULIN

The Domaine du Moulin d’Asselborn is a respite from the big city and a call to nature lovers from around the world. Cosy up in one of their many themed rooms, dig in to a plate of their famous local trout or head out for a hike in the nearby parks.

Just one kilometre away is the Relais Postal d’Asselborn, where upscale, themed rooms and charming décor draw guests into a relaxing stay. Choose between the Royal Suite and the boudoir, or the postillion apartment for a personalised experience.

And for those feeling antsy, there are plenty of excursions nearby the Domaine. The north of Luxembourg is known for its great fishing, while the Clervaux golf course is only five kilometres away. The Weiswampach Lake is a refreshing way to beat the heat in summer.

The Domaine du Moulin d’Asselborn is steeped in history. 300 years ago, the local post office sat here, and a water mill churned away. Today, the site is a hotel, auberge and restaurant for those looking for a unique way to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

And for those with a grumble in their stomachs, no need to drive kilometres to find a delicious meal. Tuck in to a plate of local trout – undoubtedly the renowned dish here – or enjoy a mug of Belgian beer. Three distinct spots line the Domaine de Moulin d’Asselborn – a restaurant, brewery and ‘Mille Stuff.’ The venues are open to hotel guests as well as wedding receptions or business meetings.

Perhaps what the Domaine is most known for – besides its ability to transport guests back in history – is its hiking trails. Strap on your hiking boots and trek across the Belgian-Luxembourg Ardennes or explore the 104 kilometres of trail along the Bernistapp canal and old slate quarries.

At the Hotel du Moulin, rooms are set up in a chalet style, where wood-beamed ceilings and plush beds and chairs offer a chance to truly rest. The Moulin d’Asselborn – one of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s oldest water mills, dating back to 1036 – still operates today. Guests can visit the Moulin d’Asselborn Museum on-site. 76  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

“People come here for the great cuisine, the beautiful wood-burning stove in winter and the garden terrace in summer,” says Liliana Da Mota, front-desk manager at the Domaine du Moulin d’Asselborn.

“This is not a stay for those looking for a cosmopolitan experience,” says Ms Da Mota, “but for those who love nature, this is the place to be.”


Lowlands. Photo: NBTC

Out & About Relax, refresh and repeat: that must be the ideal August routine, and the Benelux is the perfect place to do just that this month. Relax at one of the many urban festivals or musical celebrations and refresh at a beer fair or food pop-up afterwards. Don’t worry about running out of summer-proof things to do: the Benelux has more activities on the programme than there are days in the month. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Bollekesfeest. Photo: Jonathan Ramael

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  77

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Hello Summer Until 25 August, Brussels, Belgium This summer, the laid-back Hello Summer village roams through the municipalities of Brussels. After having spent ten days in Brussels’ city centre in July, the event will now strike down in the European district, Laken and Neder-Over-Heembeek. With music, sports, food and fun galore, Hello Summer installs the perfect exotic oasis in the crowded metropole.

Flower Parade Rijnsburg

Concours d’Elegance. Photo: Alexandre Prevot

10 August, Rijnsburg, the Netherlands In the nation of tulips, flower parades are widely popular. One of the nicest ones is organised in Rijnsburg, where the villagers drive 65 blossoming vehicles through their streets. Adorned with no less than 250,000 flowers, all cars turn into colourful, mechanical pieces of art. This year, the central theme is ‘professions’, taking us from one exciting career to the next.


Photo: Hello Summer

Photo: Flower Parade

78  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

14-18 August, Brussels, Belgium With the bi-annual flower carpet in Brussels and the Florialiën in Ghent, Belgium counts plenty of floral celebrations. This year, the teams behind these two events collaborate for Flowertime, a blossoming exhibition in the gothic city hall of Brussels. Spread over 13 impressive rooms and halls, 100,000 flowers

Bollekesfeest. Photo: Gianni Camilleri

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Flowertime. Photo: Wim Vanmaele

give shape to a myriad of living installations which collide with their lush surroundings.

Lowlands 15-18 August, Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands For many a Dutchman, Lowlands is the magnum opus of the music festival season. And this year, again, they live up to that expectation. Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, A$AP Rocky, The National, Anne Marie and Giorgio Moroder are just a few of the big names adorning the line-up. Besides featuring great music, the festival also has room for comedy, literature, dance, theatre and science.

Bollekesfeest 16-18 August, Antwerp, Belgium Every summer, the Bollekesfeest celebrates the city of Antwerp in all its aspects. Eat and drink its delicacies at the fairs and pop-up bars, immerse yourself in its culture at the stages or gaze at the city and harbour from the water during a relaxing boat trip. Make sure to drink ‘een bolleke’, as well: the city’s signature beer which lends its name to the cosy festival.

‘t Preuvenemint 22-25 August, Maastricht, the Netherlands At ‘t Preuvenemint, the biggest culinary festival of the Benelux, the country’s best chefs

Photo: BXL BeerFest

show the world what they are capable of at 23 gastronomical stalls. Treat your taste buds with plenty of refined dishes while enjoying the cosy and informal atmosphere. Also, the profits from every dish you order go straight to charity. This year, the festival supports Stille Armen, an organisation which treats economically challenged families with a festive and tasty surprise box during the Christmas period. Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  79

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Schueberfouer 23 August – 11 September, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg The Schueberfouer, the Grand Duchy’s biggest funfair, has been around for a very long time. The event was founded in 1340, making this year’s edition its 679th. Don’t expect any medieval activities, though: with 43 thrilling rides, plenty of shooting and fishing stalls, and even more dining spots to take the edge off your appetite, the fair has long entered the 21st century.

BXLBeerFest 24-25 August, Brussels, Belgium At BXLBeerFest, artisanal brewers from Belgium and beyond fraternise. About 60 breweries present their unique hops to the world in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. With all of this in focus, the festival wants to give the legendary Belgian beer culture the attention it deserves. Go and try a few of the 350 extraordinary beers while chatting with the brewers themselves.

Jazz in de Gracht 29-31 August, The Hague, the Netherlands No venue makes jazz sound as good as the open air does. During Jazz in de Gracht, you can enjoy this soulful music while relaxing at the waterfront of The Hague’s canals. Small bands play their nicest tunes while they float by their audience in sloops. Let jazz be the soundtrack of the last hot days and nights of summer.

Concours d’Elégance 30 August – 1 September, Mondorf, Luxembourg Classic cars, elegant outfits and a lot of philanthropy: that is the Concours d’Elégance in a nutshell. To raise money for Make-A-Wish (an organisation which fulfils the biggest wishes of terminally ill children), old-timer aficionados hit the road and explore Luxembourg’s beautiful countryside in their antique rides. During the following days, they exhibit their spectacular cars and motorcycles to the large audience in attendance in the lush Mondorf-les-Bains Thermal Domain Park. 80  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Bollekesfeest. Photo: Gianni Camilleri

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  81

Photo: Stijn Bollaert

The brewery of draughts and crafts TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Known for their exquisite chocolates, golden-brown pints and finger-lickinggood cuisine, the Flemish never fail to deliver quality and authenticity. At De Koninck, Antwerp’s City Brewery, they have been brewing their ‘bolleke’ to perfection for 186 years already. Today, the brewer co-houses with some of the city’s finest craftsmen, who have settled in the brewery. “When De Koninck joined Duvel Moortgat (one of Belgium’s most important brewery groups) in 2010, we moved the bottling of our beers to their plant,” explains Sven Dekleermaeker, De Koninck’s brewmas82  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

ter. “As a result, we ended up with plenty of free space, which we embraced as a grand opportunity.” First, they built a beer bar, a store and an experience centre where you can immerse yourself in the world of beer. Yet, even then, lots of space remained unused. Today, these spots are filled in by craftsmen of all sorts. A bakery, a cheese refiner, a mixologist… one by one, they settled in De Koninck’s new crafts centre. “Everyone who performs his trade with passion and authenticity can fit in here. Our only requirement is that the clients can see the artisans in action. At the

chocolate store, you watch the sweet magic happen, at the butchery, you can peek inside the fridge, and the restaurant’s chefs prepare your meal in front of your eyes.” To experience the magic of the brewery to the fullest, you must try the Meet the Crafts formula: a refined tasting where a beer sommelier matches the brewery’s beers with cheeses, chocolates or meat from the complex’s craftsmen. “All neighbours and fellow-craftsmen inspire each other by performing their trades. Therefore, City Brewery De Koninck is way more than just the sum of its many talents.”

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Top Experience in Antwerp

Photo: Stijn Bollaert

MEET THE CRAFTSMEN De Koninck Experience Discover the trail your De Koninck beer makes, from hops to Tripel d’Anvers, at the interactive experience centre. Set foot on the holy grounds of the brewery and sample the most exclusive beers. Read more on page 84.

combine their expertise in mixology and tea to create unique culinary experiences.

Black Smoke is always through the roof. Read more on page 86.

Butcher’s Store


As one of the best butchers in Belgium, Butcher’s Store is the place to go for the most tender piece of meat.

All you need for your bike, as well as the best maintenance, you will find at Velodome.

The Butcher’s Son Casual and cosy Michelin-star restaurant The Butcher’s Son is the perfect spot to taste Belgian classics with a twist alongside a great glass of beer or wine Read more on page 85.

YUST Only Cheese Founded by cheese experts Van Tricht, Only Cheese has some of the world’s best cheeses in stock.

As the brewery’s neighbour, the dynamic YUST hub reanimates the neighbourhood with new ways to live, travel and enjoy. Read more on page 87. Photo: Stijn Bollaert

De Hand De Pelgrim Enjoy the Flemish brasserie cuisine and a cold beer at the authentic tavern, De Pelgrim.

This typical Belgian tavern serves great local dishes and a perfect De Koninck beer.

Jitsk Chocolates The Bakery At The Bakery, you can find the most delicious day-fresh bread and pastries from all of Antwerp.

All handmade and with some surprising fillings, Jitsk’s pralines are amongst the best you can find in the country of chocolate.

Black Smoke Atelier Paul Morel & The Noodle Agency Atelier Paul Morel and The Noodle Agency

With both their barbecues and bartenders at the centre of attention, the temperature at Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  83

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Top Experience in Antwerp

DE KONINCK EXPERIENCE The beating heart of the De Koninck complex is, of course, its brewery. Almost 80 per cent of the building is still used to brew their three marvellous beers. “Besides our classic ‘bolleke’ De Koninck, we also brew Tripel d’Anvers and Wild Jo,” says brewmaster Sven Dekleermaeker. “Tripel d’Anvers is our popular triple: a typically Belgian strong blond. Wild Jo is the result of an experiment of ours. Although it isn’t very strong, it provides an explosion of flavour. And, as it keeps yeasting in the bottle, its flavour changes over time.” To allow beer lovers a glimpse behind the scenes of the brewery, De Koninck created a modern and interactive experience centre amidst its walls. The tour takes you from one room to the next, where interactive screens and fun activities tell you how De Koninck became a synonym for Antwerp, why every beer needs its proper glass and what the road from the hop fields to your ‘bolleke’ looks like. As a magnum opus, you enter a bridge above the brewery from where you can gaze at the beer in the making. “You can even pour your proper draught beer here, just to experience how hard it is.”

Photo: De Koninck

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In the De Koninck Bar downstairs, you can try all beers De Koninck and Duvel Moortgat brew and pick the brains of the beer sommeliers. When craving for something special, you can exclusively taste some experimental brews, which De Koninck bottles on a minuscule scale. “Yet, most exclusive is our unfiltered ‘bolleke’ De Koninck. Only here, we serve this ‘unfinished’ beer straight from the brewing tank. At this stage, the beer has yet to pass the final stages of the brewing process and is still cloudy.” And you can even take it home with you. In the De Koninck Shop, you can purchase yourself plenty of nice merchandise, including a crowler: an empty can, available from one litre upwards. At the bar, they fill it up with the beer of your preference and seal it. This way, you can take these exclusive brews back home, to share them with friends (or to enjoy them all by yourself).


Photo: De Koninck

Photo: De Koninck

Photo: De Koninck

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Top Experience in Antwerp

Photo: The Butcher’s Son

Photo: The Butcher’s Son

Photo: The Butcher’s Son

THE BUTCHER’S SON After having quenched your thirst, you will want to sit down for a nice meal. Mere metres away from the experience centre, you enter the carnivores’ paradise of The Butcher’s Son. In 2018, the restaurant of chef Jan Michielsen and sommelier Luc Dickens received its first Michelin star; and nobody was more surprised about that than they were. “Having a star above our door was not our main aim,” explains Dickens. “We have created a homely restaurant with fantastic food for affordable prices. Yet, long tablecloths and crystal glasses, you won’t find here. So, the fact that Michelin granted us with this honour, prooves that we are on the right track.” And your taste buds won’t disagree. On the menu, you will find traditional Belgian meat

dishes with a modern twist. Some of them are seasonal, others can be ordered all year round. “Our vol-au-vent is one of our most popular plates. In a big, homemade pastry, we serve a chicken-mushroom ragout for two people, with mousseline sauce and crunchy pieces of sweetbread on top. On the side, you can find real Belgian fries, fried in beef tallow.” Despite what the name might suggest, vegetarians are also welcome at The Butcher’s Son. The menu does not include any meatless options, but on request, Michielsen whips up a fantastic vegetarian meal for you. Founded by a chef and a sommelier, The Butcher’s Son is a perfect marriage of food and wine. On its extensive wine list, you will find something for every dish and palette.

“Our assortment is rich in both flavours and prices. We serve traditional wines and more experimental ones, as well as bargains and exclusive bottles. As a sommelier, I don’t only look at which wine matches the meal, but also at the preferences of the guest. Together, we always pick out the perfect bottle.” In the grand tradition of the De Koninck City Brewery, Michielsen’s kitchen is located in the middle of the restaurant. While dining, you can watch the chefs chop the fries and dress the plates. “You can see everything apart from the dishwashing,” laughs Dickens. Web:


Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  85

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Top Experience in Antwerp

BLACK SMOKE Meat-lovers who prefer their steak a bit smokier can head to Black Smoke, the complex’s barbecue restaurant which takes the art of grilling to the next level. “We use two traditional ways of barbecuing,” explains founder Kasper Stuart. “On the one hand, we use the American ‘low and slow’ technique, where we smoke our meat on oak, beech, cherry, apple and other sorts of wood for six to 18 hours. This keeps the meat tender and gives it a heavenly smoked aroma. On the other hand, you can find the ‘hot and fast’ technique, which is inspired by the Argentinian parrilla. By briefly exposing our meat to very high temperatures, it gets this typical grill flavour and a crunchy bite.” By using meat from the neighbouring Butchers Store – one of Belgium’s best butcheries, they guarantee a phenomenal meat experience. “Our clients’ absolute favourite is the Texan brisket tostada: two crunchy corn tortillas with

Photo: Black Smoke

Texas-style chopped brisket, adobo barbecue sauce, a spicy salsa, lemon cream and avocado. Yet, what tickles a carnivore’s imagination even more, is our selection of one-kilogramme club steaks. They are the perfect option when craving for a hedonistic moment. Most people

Photo: Black Smoke

share them per two, yet, some attack these meals all on their own.” Nonetheless, Black Smoke is more than just a barbecue restaurant. Apart from the restaurant on the third floor, they also have a cosy bar on the first floor and an atmospheric rooftop on the sixth. Here, you can enjoy your drinks and snacks with a spectacular view. “Our bartenders are experts in preparing you the perfect drink. Apart from serving you a nice wine or a beer from De Koninck, they prepare the most intriguing cocktails in a heartbeat. Our drinks list is an international journey on its own, during which we pair up different flavours, drinks and – on occasion – even a touch of smoke.” Once a month, you can experience these delicious drinks in perfect circumstances, during a nice club night or an amazing concert during which food, drinks and music elevate each other to perfection. Web:

Photo: Black Smoke

Photo: Black Smoke

86  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

Photo: Black Smoke

Photo: Black Smoke

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Top Experience in Antwerp Photo: YUST

Photo: YUST

Photo: YUST

YUST Right across the street to the lively De Koninck City Brewery, the equally vibrant YUST site stretches out: a cross-over between a living-, travelling-, working- and relaxing-hub. “YUST is the most flexible and modern housing project in the city, and probably in the entire country,” explains Louis Claes, YUST’s general manager. “When real estate agency Realis and project developer Gands noticed the pressing need for affordable housing in the city without any strings attached, they collaborated to create YUST.” Of this five-storey building, the four top floors house compact, modern, furnished lofts. These, you can rent for a period of one to 12 months. “This attracts plenty of demographics. PhD students, expats, families who are renovating their houses… For them, YUST is a flexible, affordable and cosy place to live.”

YUST’s hotel on the first floor, which offers double rooms, suites, family rooms and dorms. “Some people think we are a hostel, but that is not true. Just like any other hotel, we make the beds and provide fresh towels and an amazing breakfast. Yet, our prices are very attractive. Plenty of businesses and globetrotters adore this hybrid concept, combining luxury with affordability.” As a hotel guest, you can also enjoy the nice rooftop terrace. Yet, you don’t have to stay at YUST to enjoy it. Next to the common room, you can

enter a restaurant in which sharing is key. With plenty of small dishes on offer, you make your selection and share them with your company. Alongside the restaurant, there is a business centre where you can rent boardrooms and a multipurpose hall for meetings, celebrations and anything in between. “The neighbourhood of OudBerchem is experiencing a renaissance right now, and we are very happy that YUST helps to make that happen.” Web:

On the ground floor, YUST offers plenty of facilities to its tenants. They can use the laundry machines and printers, have a meeting in the boardroom or relax with a coffee in the lounge. “They can also rent bicycles for a reasonable price and are entitled to half an hour of free car-sharing every month.” On the rooftop, they even organise parties and events from time to time. If you don’t plan on staying an entire month, you might want to book a room at

Photo: YUST

Issue 68  |  August 2019  |  87

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  NEMO Science Museum

Summer nights on the city’s roof TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: DIGIDAAN

Balmy summer nights should be spent outside. On the roof of NEMO Science Museum, they celebrate the warmest evenings of the year under the stars while gazing at the mesmerising lights of Amsterdam. With free concerts, surprising beer tastings and a film festival, there is something for everyone to do at the city’s highest piazza. With its unique shape and deep greenblue colour, NEMO Science Museum is a dominant landmark on Amsterdam’s skyline. Inside, an exciting universe of science and technology welcomes all generations for interesting hands-on experiments and educational games. This summer, the museum zooms in on the bicycle – many a Dutchman’s loyal metal steed – with the programme Brilliant Bicycles. Nonetheless, the sum88  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

mer vibes might lure you away from the scientific whirlpool and take you straight to the roof, which you can access for free. “There, we have a big and cosy square,” explains Anne-Marie Gielis, senior marketer at NEMO Science Museum. “During the summer months, it is a great place to sit and enjoy the scarce summer breeze while the young ones knock themselves out at our permanent outdoor exhibition Energetica, or cool down in our refreshing cascade.” Once the sun starts to set, NEMO’s roof really comes alive. Throughout summer, everyone is welcome to read, chat or play at high altitude until 9pm. “Every Thursday, we invite musicians to liven up the warm evenings as well. This can be a jazz band, a Voice of Holland winner or even a pair of drag queens. Beside

the stage, a number of Amsterdam’s local breweries will regularly host a tasting of their microbrews, special beers and wines. This way, you can constantly discover different bands and hops.” To experience the rooftop in a more meditative setting, you can join one of the weekly yoga sessions with a view. Every Sunday morning at nine, you are welcome to unbend your mind while bending your body in the open air. “To end the summer on a high note, we even host an open-air film festival during the weekend of 6 to 8 September. This year, among others, A beautiful mind is on the programme. Set yourself down on the stairs with a drink and a blanket and enjoy the last of the summer nights in style.” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Sequenda

Sequenda: A key player in Luxembourg’s lyrical life TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTO: DAVID CROSBY

Founded in Luxembourg in 2008 by mezzosoprano Luisa Mauro, Sequenda (formerly known as the Nei Stëmmen association) is dedicated to the promotion of lyrical art and the professionalisation of young opera singers. An influential figure in Luxembourg’s cultural scene, Luisa Mauro was recently awarded the rank of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, thanks to her contributions in the field of opera and her commitment to training aspiring singers. Almost 300 young artists of around 30 nationalities have come to perfect their art and seek high-level training at the association’s International Summer Academies, not to mention its Master Classes and opera productions. Luisa Mauro has managed to bring together a host of divas including Teresa Berganza, Barbara Frittoli and Jennifer Larmore, as well as exceptional maestri such

as Enza Ferrari of La Scala de Milan and Mireille Alcantara of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique Paris. “These artists make up some of the biggest names in the world of music,” she says. ”The young singers tell me: in each lesson we do not get an hour of class but 40 years of theatre!” From 2 to 8 September 2019 the International Summer Academy for singers and accompanying pianists will take place, with the final concert being held at the Centre ArcA concert hall in Bertrange on 8 September at 4pm. The next Master Class with Jennifer Larmore will take place in collaboration with the Dudelange music school. Do not miss the Gala Concert on 9 February 2020 at Dudelange’s Op Der Schmelz theatre. Sequenda has established important partnerships with international competitions including As.Li.Co., the most prestigious contest in Italy, and the famous ‘s-Hertogenbosch International Vocal Competition in the

Netherlands, as well as with the École Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot. Sequenda enjoys the generous support of the Ministry of Culture and the National Cultural Fund, all in collaboration with the music schools of Bertrange and Dudelange.

Luisa Mauro.


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns



When Japanese designer Yuko Shimizu made her first tentative drawings of Hello Kitty back in the early ‘70s, it is doubtful she realised she was creating the precursive character of a movement that would alter Japanese society forever. ‘Kawaii’ is the culture of cuteness that began with the anthropomorphic cat-human, spawned multi-billion dollar franchises, and has taken over the world of toys, entertainment and film. It is, however, just one of the plethora of Japanese cultural phenomena the world is obsessed by. We love Japanese design, for example, we watch the horrors, read the comics, worship the craftsmanship, and are devoted to the games. All of this, and more, is celebrated in the blockbuster exhibition Cool Japan, on show at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.

After achieving record attendances whilst on show at the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden last year, the exhibition has been revamped and brought to Amsterdam. The show now features the new centre-piece of a spectacular installation by renowned artist Sebastian Masuda; a kawaii dreamscape highlighting both the cute and uncomfortable side of the phenomenon. However, as a child of the ‘90s, I know which part of the exhibition I would be making a beeline for – the games arcade. To Messrs Yamauchi and Yokoi, I owe you so much. Their invention, the magnificent Game Boy, saved one small Midlands child from boredom on many an occasion; whiling away hours on the glorified calculator. At Cool Japan, relive your childhood, play Donkey Kong and Sailor Moon again, and succumb to a dangerous spiral of nostalgia: it will be worth it! A show that is fascinating for kids and adults alike, Cool

Japan is on at Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam until 1 September 2019

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.


Het Geheim Blond Het Geheim is a blond beer brewed with water drawn from a spring 159 metres below the Landgoed Rhederoord estate on the southeast fringe of the Netherlands’ Veluwezoom National Park. The country house at the heart of the estate, near Arnhem, is now a hotel with a finedining restaurant in its former coach house. The spring holds mineral-rich water, which is estimated to be around 4,000 years old and celebrated for its purity. The name Het Geheim translates to ‘the secret’ and refers to the long-hidden water supply. The other ingredients of this smooth blond are malt, hops and yeast, meaning it could comply with Bavaria’s 503-year-old beer purity law. The clean, easy-to-drink brew is, as its style intimates, golden in colour. Het Geheim has a light floral aroma and just a hint of herby bitterness. The label states that the beer meas90  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

ures 25 on the scale of International Bitterness Units (out of a maximum of 120), making it accessible to most palates. It’s a well-crafted thirst quencher that can be enjoyed on its own and pairs well with light salads. The brewery that brews Het Geheim was founded in 2005 by Steve Gammage, a Yorkshireman who had moved to live in the Netherlands. Aged 50, Steve switched careers and become a brewer. His base of operations is at Rha and named after nearby Bronckhorst — roughly three kilometres away — one of the country’s smallest cities. The brewery’s range of products include a series of barrel-aged beers. Bronckhorster’s James Blond Belgian-style blond beer and the powerful BBC Four quadrupel have names with playful British references. Brewer: Bronckhorster Brewing Company Alcohol content: 6.0 per cent


Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.