‘Eindhoven does not care about its own history’

eindhoven city council
Photo credit: Alain Heeren/Studio040

All the historic buildings in the city would cease to exist, or at least look very different. This is what would happen without the involvement of the Eindhoven heritage watchdog, the Van Abbestichting (Van Abbe Foundation). These sites include the former NRE site, the old part of the Van Abbemuseum, the crypt under the Mariënhage convent complex, and the giant Gerard and Anton at Strijp-S. 

A tradition of demolition

The foundation is 25 years old. This heritage organisation is celebrating its 25th year of existence by publishing a book, which is expected in September. The club’s protests protects many buildings and facades from the demolition hammer. ‘Eindhoven does not care about its own history. The city has a tradition of demolition. Even today, 60% of the city centre is, in fact, free to be demolished, if owners would like it. So, you have to take action to counter that, ‘says Marc van Abbe of the foundation.

So, the 25 years of litigation and campaigning have yielded something. According to the Van Abbestichting, part of the heritage has been retained, and the city now has a little more attention. Van Abbe: ‘If a project developer or the municipality wants to do something with a building, then from now on they will also visit us first. That is nice.’

City rights

This is reinforced with the economy picking up, says colleague Jos Husken of the foundation. ‘It’s economically good now. So money is also made available to renovate or maintain something. And that is important because Eindhoven has a rich history. It was traditionally an old fortified city and had city rights before Amsterdam did’, he explains.

There are several reasons as to why there is always a lot of demolition and loss in Eindhoven. Eindhoven was always a strategic place in history, for example during the Eighty Years’ War. A lot of fighting took place here, and so a lot was damaged, or there was a quick demolition.

According to Husken: ‘Progress also came quickly, with the growth of Philips at the end of the 19th century. To provide all those thousands of new employees a place in the city, according to the company, a lot of places were razed.’ The fact that Eindhoven has very little to show from that old history does not help, according to the foundation. Also, a lot many things were damaged during the bombing in the Second World War.

Source: www.studio040.nl

Translated by: Chaitali Sengupta

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