Slow Design for Stoas University (NL)

The Stoas University of Applied Sciences and Teacher Education in Wageningen recently moved into a new building designed by BDG Architects. It’s specific circle shape with a three storey void in the center was developed in relation to the school’s vision on ecological intelligence; combining maximum floorspace with a minimum of elevationsurface in order to use less energy. The circle has a it’s difficulties though. Once you are inside of the building, it’s easy to loose one’s orientation plus every single object that you bring into this building is fully exposed as a sculpture. The orientation issue is partly solved with wallpictures and color. We suggested furthermore to make a difference between flexible (nomadic) furniture and fixed items, so you have spaces that change and spaces that do not change. The shapes of the furniture objects were chosen with great care in relation to full exposure, for example square tables are very dissonant in these spaces. The Reflective Workspace was asked to develop a complete vision on the interior which would emphasize and express the principles of Stoas: ecology, sustainability and innovation. We made a distiction between abstact functional furniture and more playful items such as an interior treehouse. Also between formal learning spaces versus creative spaces where it’s even allowed do draw on the wall! Contrasts and diversity are supposed here to stimulate both of the brainhalves which leads to balanced development and sustainable thought and action.

Because the school brought some of their old furniture with them and because they wanted to get used to their new building first, we decided to slow down and not realise the whole project at once. We ended up making a “Handboek”, a kind of selfhelp toolkit catalogue in which all the ideas and propositions were collected and combined into a kind of masterplan. When there is budget available the school can add stuff from this “Handboek”. The end-product here is not a finished interior project; it will grow in time, like an organism. This has the advantage that choices can be re-adjusted in order to really fit the organisation. A situation which is very hard to achieve when you do traditional top-down projectdesign. The “Handboek” has an open ending; new ideas can be added and adjustments can be included.

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Blurring: Te Koop (For Sale)

Another example of “blurring” is Te Koop (For Sale) in Utrecht. In this cosy restaurant with a firm retro touch everything you see is for sale. The restaurant has a very good kitchen and serves biological meals for a reasonable price. The food comes from mostly local suppliers and it’s origin is known. The interior of the restaurant is realised in collaboration with Utrecht based Decodel stylists & interior decorators. They create new interiors by upcycling secondhand furniture adding for example embroidery or knitwork. Sustainability with a big smile! Te Koop serves as a platform for their ideas and work. Because the interior changes all the time, visiting Te Koop will never be the same twice.

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Blurring: Lola Bikes & Coffee

Lola bikes and coffee is situated in the historic city center of The Hague. Unless the difficulties lots of retailers and café’s have these days, Lola seems to be quite succesful.
That’s probably due to it’s unique formula of “blurring” different activities and concepts together. Is it a café, a shop? Or a workspace? Actually, it is all of that. All of your senses are invited to participate, great tastes, the smell of fresh coffeebeans (their own blend), cool and curious bikes, colorful wallpaintings combined with strong graphic design, books about bikes, postcards, wooden furniture, a piano. They even have their own cow giving milk for the Latte’s and Cappucino’s! Lola is an experience more than just a shop. It’s a story and a community. Something to connect yourself with.

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Berlin Indoor Campsite

I recently heard about this incredible place to stay in Berlin: Hüttenpalast (Cabinpalace) What a great idea to allocate an abandoned vacuum cleaner factory! Definately have to check this out soon!  “There has to be more in life than having everything” is the credo of Silke and Sarah who invented and run this place. “We decided to create a space in which we can do EVERYTHING, have EVERYTHING, experience EVERYTHING. We want to be hosts and designers. We give you a touch of summer feeling – even in winter – and retro-happiness as you sit and swing in front of the huts or walk in flip-flops with toothbrush to the beautiful showers.”

Hüttenpalast can be booked as a hotel but also as a meeting space for events. Just brilliant. And last but not least: Food For Thought for Dutch developers and municipalities with 8.000.000m2 of empty floorspace in NL at this moment!!

Connective Design

In september this year I visited Zuidpark, a coworking / flexworking hotspot in Amsterdam. What struck me most when visiting the place was not so much the strong design with sea containers or the urban farming roof (both of which are great), but the auditorium which has the name: Connectorium. The idea is as follows; the auditorium is covered with a diverse mix of theater chairs in different colors, models and sizes. On the floor are nametags of their origin and the project they were meant to be used for. All of these chairs were testing models for theaterprojects or simply left over and stacked away in a storage space. What happens in this auditorium is that people take their seat and wonder why these chairs are not the same. Projectnames like “Salle Jean Vilar” or “Rica Hell” evoke ones imagination. People start talking about it and connections are made in an informal way.

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Occupy Spaces

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This booklet “Occupy Spaces” contains a mini portfolio expressing the vision of The Reflective Workspace; a Dutch design practice for connective interior design & co-creation. We focus on how interior objects and the staging of spaces can contribute to an inspiring and responsive (work) environment. Edith Winkler, architect by origin, states that most project spaces are quite dull, no matter how well designed they may be. Even then, modern spaces still seem to have a emphasis on the visual, the abstract, the rational and formal. The Reflective Workspace propagates a more sensory as well as participatory approach towards architectural space. We aim to create a responsive environment using objects, furniture and materials to evoke play, participation and communication. We aim to (co)create spaces that reflect LIFE that takes place in them. We aim to realize connective, inspiring, spaces for people to live their work in.