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International Industrial Tour

What are your thoughts on how every place managed to keep the links/references to its original function? how did you perceive the atmosphere in each place and the community around each place?

  1. Westergasfabriek – former gaz factory, Amsterdam

At the westergasfactory terrain the various buildings are preserved and restored and they kept the original names and as such referring to its former functions for example ‚ ‚Ketelhuis’ meaning ‚Heating unit’, now transformed into a moviehouse. The ‚Gashouder’,a large round building that was used for gaz storage is now available for events. At the moment of visiting the Amsterdam Fashion Week was being built up. All event spaces have been equipped with installations for lighting, electricity and heating and flooring, while the rough factory atmosphere has been kept. It was a pity that the weather was very Dutch: cold, windy and rainy. Still the lunch cafe was packed with a mix of business people, families with small children and friends catching up. With nice weather the terraces are full with people and during festivals it is people everywhere and good energy. A big advantage of the Westergasfactory is that it has many different places, from cozy cafe’s and an art cinema to several smaller and bigger event spaces and many nice outside spots and terraces along the waterside and the big lawn and the park.

  1. NDSM – former shipbuilding wharf, Amsterdam

The NDSM terrain has still kept much of its roughness of the former shipyard wharf. The industry went down in early ’80’s and has been empty and untouched until some pioneers, mostly artists, started using the spaces since early ’90’s. Nowadays the big wharf is offering spaces to artists and creative studios . A steel framework has been built inside the wharf and the units have been constructed by the tenants themselves. The effect is a factory ’favela’ with colorful studio spaces and industrial streets linking all the spaces. On the outside the original letters of the NDSM company can still be read on the facade. The big ramp, from where the ships used to be launched into the water has been kept and is now often used for open air dance events or other festivals. The original crane has been recently restored and has been placed back on the terrain after renovation. It offers 3 very luxurious hotelrooms. A cafe constructed from shipping containers offers a great view on the water and during summer it offers a ´strand’. The terrain is attracting more functions and companies: a five-star hotel will soon open its doors, MTV headquarters is based on the site since some years already, students are living in dormitories (also container village), an important gallery moved from the city centre to the NDSM, another cafe, etc. Since a couple of months a new bridge has been opened which provides a better connection with the city centre. Still you have to take a ferry from the central station to arrive at the terrain which is situated on the northern banks of the river IJ.

  1. Kromhouthal – Amsterdam

The kromhouthal used to produce machineries for the former Stork factory and is also situated at the northern river banks, a bit more land inwards. It kept the many industrial details such as the crane hanging up high on one of the steel beams. Special lighting focuses the attention to the industrial details. In the newly installed bathrooms photos show the former production hall. The main hall has kept its orginal size, details, flooring and huge industrial doors. The spaces upstairs have been converted into spaces that meet the up-to-date requirements for hosting events or meetings. The Kromhouthal still has the industrial atmosphere with a magnificent view on the water, where you can watch the big cruisehips turning to sail back to the sea.

  1. RDM – former shipbuilding wharf, Rotterdam

Spectacular arrival over water to enter into the harbour of the former dockyard, now turned into a campus for academic and vocational technical education. You can totally imagine the big ships being built there in earlier times. The campus is still surrounded by active industrial activities in the midst of the Rotterdam harbour. The details of the main historical building, which now houses the academy of architecture, are well preserved and they express the wealth of the shipyard industries at that time. The immense halls of the wharf now have modern built-in structures like glasshouses and classroom-cabinets. The size and industrial character have been kept and the combination of the old steel structure and new modern built-in structures works very well. By placing the machine rooms in transparent volumes, the feeling of production is still there, although now they are no longer the big ships being produced there, but students working on innovative solutions for automotive, bicycles or offshore products. The campus offers spaces for young entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups. RDM stands for Research Design and Manufacturing on the job and under one roof and is a collaboration between higher and vocational education, enterprises and the Rotterdam port authority. It represents an unique innovative redevelopment of a brown field former harbour area and inclusion of cultural heritage.

  1. Strijp S – former Philips factories, Eindhoven

When entering the terrain you can read a quote on the facade of Gerard Philips: „In the beginning I had to do everything by myself.” For a long time the former Philips factory terrain was referred to as the forbidden city as it was a closed off for the citizens of Eindhoven, while thousands of workers passed the gates every day, until production moved to low-cost-labour countries and the headquarters were relocated to Amsterdam. A few years ago the gates opened and transformation of the area slowly started. The main buildings on the terrain have been preserved and have – or and in the process of  – a new function. The former machine room is now a high quality restaurant in an industrial atmosphere. The laboratories, where many inventions were done like the cd-player, are transformed into a moviehouse, cafe and offices. The monumental factory building is transformed into apartments and offices for the creative sector. On the ground floor public functions are situated: shops, restuarants and galleries. Strijp S is known for the Dutch Design Week, attracting 250,000 visitors in 2013 and growing every year. The Strijp S site is still a terrain under construction, the first residents have recently moved in and the place will become more lively in the coming years. Many good signs are already visible: full restaurant at night and good food, the hub for creativity and innovation, a fast bus connection between the city centre and the airport with a stop at Strijp S and a growing amount of cultural activities and visitors. Worth mentioning is the detailed attention for the public space design. Hundreds of Platan trees have been planted on one of the main boulevards, which will give the space great character in some years from now.

-an equivalent in Romania for every industrial place you visit – which places in Romania would you like to see restored in the same way the Dutch ones were restored.

-your learnings after the trip and how you intend to apply them in the Romanian context.

An equivalent for the Westergasfactory would be the industrial sites surrounding the Carol Parc in the Filaret area, especially the Hesper factory, although smaller in scale, but with high potential. In general it is interesting to combine education and business and as such stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation. At the same time we have seen that industrial sites are good locations for hosting larger cultural events of all kinds and attracting the creative sector. At all places of industrial transformation that we visited in The Netherlands, we have learned that the process has to be taken step by step, starting with programming of events and generating a flow of people and first income for redevelopment and then attracting more functions. The main conclusions of the visit in The Netherlands are: step-by-step and collaboration. For Bucharest I see many opportunities: the right partners teaming up and start programming old factory terrains, generating a flow of people and cash and as such boosting regeneration of the area. It has to be taken in account though: it will be a long-term committment and coordination and involvememt of the right stakeholders and the neighbourhood is essential.