© Eugène Franken
Author profile picture
About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugène Franken, PG Kroeger, Katleen Gabriels, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous articles.

In 1983, I started my studies in architecture at the Eindhoven University of Technology here in the Netherlands. A defining time in one’s life when you got to meet intriguing and highly motivated, strong-willed young people who (and you did not know it at the time) would somehow stay with you your whole life. Some became lifelong friends. A lot of others I still meet battling on in the most unexpected places. ‘Our curiosity is timeless, we still sharpen our minds with visits to landscapes and buildings.’

Indelible life wisdom

Entrepreneurship is now being instilled in students by means of “challenge-based learning” along with long-standing self-managed multidisciplinary student teams that constantly churn out promising start-ups. Moreover, as an architectural engineer, the notion that success is also largely dependent on entrepreneurship was not taught at all back in my day. Nevertheless, it is precisely thanks to that exclusive focus on quality and indelible life wisdom such as – Write, draw and read about things that have a heart! – almost forty years on, immutable, self-innovating regional companies have since emerged that have embedded themselves in extraordinary networks that build impressively consistent oeuvres.

The way architects from the region are experimenting with innovative, universally applicable solutions to everyday problems in projects that can only be located there says something about the power of local networks that together make something that is of significance. Regional commitment with national impact. As such, being able to show that, imbues a sense of work ethic, self-esteem and continuity.

Community spirit and quality of life

The unsettling idea that globalization of the architectural world whereby real estate thinking has supplanted the ideal of building a better world and architects have seemingly lost their grip on their profession seems as such to be reversible.  Housing, sustainability and outdoor areas are all at the top of the political agenda. Two-thirds of the construction efforts involve restoration, transformation and repurposing. It is all about building a sense of community and improving quality of life nowadays. All issues that call for cooperation, vision, artisan skills, attention to detail and, above all, a sense of connection with the surroundings.

Those pennies dropped recently during a theater performance for a book launch in a Bossche (Den Bosch) cattle feed factory which had been transformed with modest means into a cultural hotspot. Under the slogan “With this book, we are documenting our journey,” a well-informed moderator-journalist presented the ecosystem surrounding the HILBERINKBOSCH Architects that count 15 staff members.

Is there hope for Venlo?

In a leisurely manner he asked tongue-in-cheek questions which had serious undertones. The drawn-out tones of (now deceased) Dutch musical artist Henny Vrienten combined with the imperturbable logic of writer/journalist Marcel van Roosmalen: LEGO or Meccano? 1.3247 or 1.618? Round or square? City or countryside? Is there hope for Emmen, Nissewaard and even Venlo? Who would want to live there?

in true style, contractors, clients, designers, employees, photographers, friends, family, interns, designers, writers and journalists, were handed the first copy all at the same time because everyone of those who had been invited had contributed in some way to its creation. That feels honorable. It solidifies a bond. We raised our glasses. Because in Brabant, that should be celebrated.🙂