Veldhoven is confident in the initiators behind the “Largest Wooden Building in the World”.
This Friday a letter of intent will be signed, bringing Veldhoven a little closer to the realization of the Dutch Mountains project. Much more is needed before the immense building along the A2 road will have risen, but there is great confidence in the initiators. And not because of the fact that the municipality can sell another piece of land, no, according to alderman Ad van den Oever (economic affairs), that does not play any role in this case. Of course, this is interesting for Veldhoven, but it’s so much than that: “Dutch Mountains could become the soul of the entire Brainport region.”

Read more about Dutch Mountains here: ‘The Largest Wooden Building in the World‘.

The location also helps, the alderman says. He gets up from his chair to point his finger at a map against the wall of his office, to show why. “Situated on the border between Eindhoven and Veldhoven, Dutch Mountains is planned directly in between the industrial zones of De Hurk and De Run, so it is expected that the project can help to liven up these two sites.”

But Veldhoven looks at Dutch Mountains not only as an opportunity to give the Run and the Hurk a boost, according to Van den Oever the project is, in fact, a great case for the entire Brainport region. “It will perform exactly what Brainport as a concept wants to stand for. And it will make it visible. Unlike most other initiatives in this region, which are hidden behind few inspiring facades.”

Van den Oever is aware that a lot will have to be sorted out as far as funding is concerned, just like the exact content of the immense building, but he calls it ‘work in progress’. “We see the ambition and growing enthusiasm for the project. Look at the big names that have committed themselves to Dutch Mountains as partners! Of course, I also know that funding must be ready before we can take further steps, but I trust that this project will be built by 2020.”

Veldhoven’s alderman hopes that Dutch Mountains will soon be the starting point for all kinds of other innovative developments. “Precisely because this building will continue to develop, renew and reinvent itself, so will the people who use it. This can have a major impact on the environment.” For Van den Oever it is particularly appealing that sustainability is such an important factor in the whole process of building and using Dutch Mountains. “The Paris Accord will be visible in every part of this building.”

What makes it difficult though, also for the other 20 municipalities in the Brainport region, is that the exact content of Dutch Mountains will only gradually become clear. There are plans for hotel functions and recreation areas, and there will be other options for meetings. Van den Oever understands that this sounds too vague for some, and he also shares the concerns of people who want to guard against duplication with other initiatives in the region. “So what we insist on at the project leaders is that we as a region want to have a complete package of functions, so we don’t want to duplicate anything. This project must not become a competitor of a Brainport Industries Campus or of the plans for a congress center or a museum. Above all, let us be complementary to each other, but look at what is the best place to land any initiative. For example, I think that an experience center for design or technology should really be created in the center of Eindhoven.” Already, Van den Oever says, a dialogue has been started.

Challenges are also related to mobility to and from Dutch Mountains. “The Kempenbaan is already quite full every day, of course, we don’t want to make it worse. What is more, we want to seize this opportunity to make sufficient mass for a truly sustainable mobility solution. The tricky thing is that we now know that a lot more can be done with shared transport in the near future, but also that those initiatives are not yet there in practice. Do we have to build a garage for thousands of cars in Dutch Mountains, or is that unnecessary? What I do know is that any solution must also be one for ASML, Maxima Medical Centre and the other companies in the neighbourhood. And that it will really work on smart techniques. I am therefore eagerly awaiting the opportunities to link up with the accessibility agenda of the Metropolitan Region.”

Illustration (c) Studio Marco Vermeulen: the future Dutch Mountains with Veldhoven and De Run depicted in the lower part; right across is the motorway A2/N2 (the border with the municipality of Eindhoven) and to the northwest of it De Hurk.

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.