Living next to Piet Hein Eek

Author: Asmara & Bas, Posted: October 16th, 2016

Piet Hein Eek is known as a prominent Dutch designer. In 2015 he realised his first architectural project named RAG Building. Experience how architecture and design compliment each other in one building and how to live like a neighbour of Piet Hein Eek.

Gebaeude RAG | building RAG
RAG Building, photo by Thomas Mayer

Apartments in the former Philips building RAG

Piet Hein Eek transformed a former industrial Philips-building into several apartments. A project realized by architectural firm Eek and Iggie Dekkers.

The former Philips Complex “Strijp R” where Eek has his atelier, is also the area of his latest project. During the Philips era, the RAG building was used as a pumping station for air, which was used for compression or vacuum in the manufacturing processes. The pumping station is one of the buildings in “Strijp R” that wasn’t demolished. It is now situated between newly built residential buildings.

What characterizes Piet Hein Eek is his respect for material, technique and attention in the process of the product and the product itself. Besides this, Eek doesn’t like wasting material: “a major thing is creating with what is available” 1. All of these characteristics you can find in his designs, certainly in his architectural design. Keeping the existing architecture as original and pure as possible, to maintain the character of the building. So for Eek and Dekkers, the design concept for the new apartments in the RAG Building emerged from the existing building itself.

Gebaeude RAG | building RAG
RAG Building, photo by Thomas Mayer

A special industrial element is the beautiful roof structure. It consists of riveted trusses with concrete cassettes. It was clear for Eek en Dekkers that the living room and kitchen should be directly under this construction, to underline the industrial heritage of this building to the resident. Another great aspect is that Eek and Dekkers did not try to copy the past. Instead of the old steel window frames, which were not usable anymore, they used new wooden window frames with large glass surfaces, which clearly differ from the old material. The additions to the building are clearly recognizable: “old is old and new is new”.

Building RF

At the same complex, “Strijp R”, yet another building is to be transformed by Piet Hein Eek and Iggie Dekkers: the former garage and porters lodge. This transformation will be characterized by the following statement from Piet Hein Eek (translated from Dutch): “we are not taken down by conventions, rules and knowledge, we do what we like to do and what we think that can be successful" 2. A great way of working.

RF Building under construction, October 2016, photo by Thomas Mayer

Design model RF Building, by Eek en Dekkers

Visiting tips for Eindhoven

Dutch Design Week, 22 – 30 October 2016
Stop by for a visit and take a look next door at the art gallery, shop and restaurant of Piet Hein Eek. During the Dutch Design Week Eindhoven, there will be a special program.

Glow Eindhoven, 12 – 19 November 2016
Eindhoven will be all about Light Festival GLOW. Around 40 light artists have created light installations, sculptures, projections and performances. These all offer the visitor of GLOW a surprisingly new perspective on the city.

Van Abbemuseum, open daily except on Mondays
The Van Abbemuseum is a museum for contemporary art. The museum’s collection of around 2700 works of art includes key works and archives by Lissitzky, Picasso, Kokoschka, Chagall, Beuys, McCarthy, Daniëls and Körmeling.

Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, photo by Norbert van Onna – www.onna.nl

Biography of Piet Hein Eek

Piet Hein Eek was born in Purmerend (The Netherlands), 1967. He studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and graduated in 1990 with his project “The Scrapwood Cupboard”. In 1992 he started a partnership with Nob Ruijgrok and founded the design studio Eek & Ruijgrok, which focused on making unique products made from waste materials. In 1995 they furnished the café of the MoMa in New York, followed by an exposition in 1996 at the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam and the Groninger Museum in 1998. The company was expanding and they moved to an old Philips Factory in Eindhoven. The 10.000m2 factory has a workshop, store, restaurant and gallery.

“A basic economic principle of modern society is that the less labor you use, the more money you save. But I thought I would turn that around, using the materials that people throw away and adding as much labor as possible to them. Ultimately, people notice all the attention that goes into making the pieces” 3
– Piet Hein Eek.

Piet Hein Eek uses different kind of waste materials. The only condition is that the material must fit in with the existing machines that he has, or he should be able to reach or know people who can process the material he chooses. He tries not to spoil any material or energy. If you don’t spoil material and energy you have a more efficient product, which is an opportunity for profitable products.4 A large amount is furniture made in small series. The collection doesn't go by season, but adds on piece by piece. In the course of time a broad collection arose.5

The company Eek & Ruijgrok was a small company, so they tried to be as rational as possible to survive. Their strategy was to work with waste materials and to do everything themselves: designing, producing, delivering etc. Nowadays their strategy is called environmentally friendly and has become a sustainability movement.

1 Youtube
2 Piet Hein Eek, Het pand, Den Bosch (2012)
3 Armand Limnander, The Imperfectionist, New York Times Style Magazine (Oct. 10, 2007)
4 Karana, E., Pedgley, O., Rognoli, V., Materials Experience: Fundamentals of Materials and Design, (2014)
5 Website: www.pietheineek.nl

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