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Picture this: Dutch Design Week 2023

Artikel door Jol Abels

From Saturday 21st of October until Sunday 29th of October the 22nd edition of the Dutch Design Week took place. It is the biggest design event of Northern Europe. More than 2600 new ideas and concepts of all the disciplines of design are presented here across the entire city centre of Eindhoven.

The theme of this years’ edition was ‘picture this’. It is a call to visualise the future if we continue living in the way we do now. What would the world then look like in 20, 50 or 100 years? Picture this is an urgent call directed at designers to come into action to reverse this catastrophic future perspective.

As landscape architects and spatial planners, we play a big role in shaping the environment in a more sustainable and futureproof way. The Dutch Design Week showcased many different projects that emphasized the importance of architects and planners. What can you do as a designer to create a better future?

This year I had the chance to visit the festival three times, and would love to take you on a trip along all this years’ highlights in the field of spatial design and architecture.

Our first stop is Eindhoven Central.

Knoop XL The exhibit of this first project is situated in the region in which the future design will take place: The station area of Eindhoven. Right now this is a concrete, car driven, office based part of Eindhoven. The municipality of Eindhoven aims change this from a place you want to leave as soon as possible into somewhere you want to stay. They want to achieve this by adding dense housing opportunities in the form of flats, better public transport by investing in train connections, and creating more open and green public spaces. This space is created by putting motorways underground.

At the Dutch Design Week, these proposals were exhibited in the form of Virtual Reality headsets giving insights in the designs of some of the squares, and a big architectural model in which the transformation of the area was shown with videomapping. As a visitor, you could give your opinion about the future of Eindhoven, making this a very interactive and educational project.

We continue our trip to station Eindhoven Strijp-S. In this area, you can find most of the projects of the Dutch Design Week. At Ketelhuisplein, the atmosphere is very festival-like with music, foodtrucks and many hubs of designers explaining their works.

Embassy of circular and biobased learning Amidst this festival-like square, a glass house is placed to host the exhibition of embassy of circular and biobased learning. The Embassy researches new perspectives for a sustainable environment. The results of this research are visualised in the glass house. Data visualisations show the information acquired during the research in clear maps and graphs. Architectural models show the possible landscapes of the future that architectural firms have designed for both rural and urban regions. With material samples research towards ecological building materials is shown. What crops are able to grow in the Netherlands, and how can we best use these consciously in our built environment? The outstanding scenography of the exhibition makes it a pleasure to walk around the room and the way the data is visualised provides an easy understanding of the research.

Next to ketelhuisplein, one can find a building with big exhibit halls: klokgebouw.

What if Lab: Rethinking shared space

The engineering consultancy company SWECO hosts a What if Lab every year at the Dutch Design Week, in which designers can develop new inventive ideas. This years’ edition was focused on space in the city. It addressed the question: ‘what if the industry stays in the city?’ The city and industry have not gone hand in hand in the past. As urban regions grow, industry is driven away out of the city, with many challenges regarding traffic, mobility, and empty industrial buildings as a result. This makes for a delayed development of a cohesive and vibrant neighbourhood.

Space&Matter thought of a solution to this problem: The Third zone. Third zone is a different way of using the industrial area as a mixed-use neighbourhood so that traffic issues and vacancy can be avoided. This is done by creating special roads for truck traffic and leaving the rest as car free zones. Later in the process, there will be experimental programming in the vacant buildings. The exhibit explains the Third Zone in a 15-year plan, with each of the steps taking 5 years. The lasting impact of a Third Zone is that a neighbourhood gains a safe place to live, work, and experiment with local initiatives.

Walking further along the workshops and foodtrucks outside, we reach the microlab. In this hall, many projects are shown, including the nominated projects of the Dutch Design Awards.


The winner of the Dutch Design Award for the category habitat is the Frysian project Bosk. Bosk is organized by the municipality of Leeuwarden and Arcadia. It is temporary ‘walking forest’ of 1000 trees that took over the centre of Leeuwarden last summer for 100 days. The trees were mobile and moved around the city every few days. People could experience the potential of a square or public space when indulged in nature. When the trees inevitably left the place, they were missed. In total the trees have moved 3,5 km with the help of more than 4000 volunteers.

Without a doubt, the Dutch Design Week has succeeded in presenting a diverse range of projects, representing the broad field of landscape architecture and spatial planning. There were more spatial projects than I had anticipated, and the scenography and thoughtfulness of the exhibits captivated me. However, not all the projects were as profound as I would have liked. Some of the projects were not necessarily things I hadn’t seen before, but this certainly did not take away my enthusiasm of the Dutch Design Week, as the designers were always eager to explain more in-depth.

There is no doubt I will return next year to explore new designs.

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Chris Stuiveling
Chris Stuiveling
Nov 07, 2023

Tof artikel! De regio Eindhoven is wereldwijd een fenomeen! De technische Uni, ASML, Philips (!). Een van de gebouwen die in de spoorzone gebouwd gaat worden zijn de 'Dutch Mountains' ontworpen door Studio Marco Vermeulen. Twee enorme torens, voor een groot gedeelte gebouwd met hout!

Erik Mies
Erik Mies
Nov 07, 2023
Replying to

Was dit niet hetzelfde project dat eerst naar Veldhoven zou gaan?

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