Author profile picture

LAB-1 Natlab ingangThe initiators of the renowned LAB-1 are working on a second project. What that will be, exactly, is still not entirely clear. But for E52 reason enough to ask the people directly involved about the past and future of LAB-1. This is their story.

Over a year long in 2013 and 2014 the Eindhoven based cultural youth initiative LAB-1 temporarily used the then-vacant Natlab ‘Einstein wing’ in Strijp-S. In seven months time from March to October 2014 a true youth culture stage and multidisciplinary incubator accumulated, which was open to the public.

Natlab 'Einstein' vleugel           image009           image056

In co-operation with the Government of Eindhoven cultural departments, local companies and with input from many Eindhoven based collectives from the city nightlife –creatives, volunteers, students, youth from a diverse range of academies as the Design Academy, Sint Lucas and TU/e- the abandoned Natlab ruin (which was made available without hardly any windows and services) transformed into a bustling and lively community space for the best Einderground parties, exhibitions, film screenings, visuals, (retro) gaming, chill out and meeting. All this with input from young and emerging local, national and international creative talents.

In just a few months time the initiative became extremely popular with long queues at the door and buzz in Eindhoven.

Programmatic highlight came at the end of September with the arrival of the Berlin based Dasha Rush with support from the Eindhoven techno collective Dommelvallei and disco collective Discos Horizontes, but the absolute climax occurred during the LAB-1 & Café Tuesdays Dutch Design Week.


Curated by Mandy Rose there were daily exhibitions and installations by young local, national and international students from the design and culture world. Such as Sunita Fisic from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina & Design in Context by students from Northern-America, Western-Europe en Asia.

Not in one room, but in more than twenty ancient exciting former laboratory rooms where Philips scientists were pioneering with inventions in the past.

In the room where Dutch Queen Wilhelmina in the 1920s performed the first radio broadcast to the Dutch East Indies you could chill, meet-up and play on some old Philips retro game consoles from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

image019_copy1In three different ‘areas’ you could, under the curatorship of Café Tuesday (Design Academy Students Jens Rasmussen and Alwin Beumer), dance all week long during nighttime on electronic music provided by many collectives from the Eindhoven alternative nightlife as Midlight, Kader, Spatial, Room306 and Non Stop.

image059         image051         044

At the end of the corridor a continuous film program was shown in a pop-up cinema, where among others you could see the Berlinized film of the Berlin filmmaker Lucian Busse. And in the special Tuesday Café you could socialize with coffee, tea, sandwiches or entertain yourself in the pop-up record store, where famous DJs from Eindhoven made their collection available.

image021         image023         image011

The last evening as well as the closure of the Dutch Design Week on October 25 was a madhouse. More than 500 young people tried to experience the last hours of LAB-1 and unfortunately only 250 of them were let inside. Immediately after the end of the week many photos appeared online, but last week a video was released online that shows the atmosphere around 4:00 at night in the LAB-1 Natlab.

image025         image027_copy         image029

Then it was over as the ownership of the building was transferred from the Municipality of Eindhoven to the Sint Lucas Media Academy, for the realization of their resettlement in the Natlab.

That renovation and redevelopment is now in full swing. From the old familiar LAB-1 only the murals remain. In fact, only the façade is still standing. Walls are broken, ceilings, floors, roofs, pipes and old industrial characteristic elements have been removed or remade. Here and there some rooms for Sint Lucas are already finished. It is expected that in the summer of 2016 the building will come into use for their educational activities.



And what about the future?

“The end of the use of Natlab meant indeed the end of LAB-1. What happened in the Natlab remains in the Natlab. LAB-1 will never come back and remains as a beautiful reminder of our unique incubator climate in Eindhoven.

Still, it itches tremendously. Not only for us but also for our many visitors to whom we often get questions and even emotional pleas as to when we finally can get something going on again in this city….

Yes! The next project is under development. What, who, where, how and when? That still remains a big surprise. But it is certain that in terms of location and atmosphere we will make no concessions. Stay tuned! “

E52 will certainly hold a close eye on the future developments in the cultural crypts of Eindhoven.