Henri Lenferink : "It has been worth waiting for."
The mayor of Leiden calls the ambitious project for the Meelfabriek ‘A transformation for the city’. He says: Let's be honest, most people find it an ugly building, a pustule within the canals. But remember it was a factory. You should look at the functionality of such a building. Now it is stripped to the bone and you can see the beauty of the design. I am proud of the plans which will be implemented. And it runs parallel In a beautiful way with the ambitious Singel Park as part of the vision of downtown Leiden. It is inspired by the ideas of Jeroen Maters that divides the city in a new and an old city. That concept-thinking is very important for the city of Leiden because it is the basis for urban renewal and avoids ad hoc actions. It is also an example of group thinking, combining the old and the new, which ties the people in the city together. The Meelfabriek is the epitome of our vision of Leiden. If it leads to what it promises, despite these difficult economic times, the waiting was well spent.’
Baptist Trimbos: "It will become a village within the city."
If sales of the homes begin it is likely that Baptist Trimbos, head of the Gynecology Department of the LUMC in Leiden, appears to be the first in line. Trimbos:’First of all it is the quality of the project. It is designed by a special team of architects, including Piet Oudolf, the best garden-and landscape architect from the Netherlands. This quality can also be found in what will become a new branch of the Wellness Center Azzurro in Noordwijk aan Zee. You cannot compare it with a normal fitness. The second point is perhaps the most important: our society is increasingly individualistic, there is less and less entitlement among people. At the Meelfabriek it involves more than just a beautiful living environment. There's also a social dimension. There will be a bakery and a special market. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet each other. It is like a village within the city.’ Trimbos fancies one of the great lofts of 250 square meters. ‘The manner in which such an existing building gets a new destination really appeals to me. Imagine how you feel when you overlook the city from the fourth floor! And then there is the garden which connects to the city parks. I'm really excited.!’
Piet Oudolf: ‘I think it will become unique’
Piet Oudolf is without doubt the most famous landscape architect from the Netherlands. He has an international reputation - not least through a series of high profile projects in the United States, such as the High Line and Battery Park, both in New York and also the Millennium Park in Chicago. The collaboration with Peter Zumthor, the architect who gave the initial impetus to the masterplan of the Meelfabriek, came about after Zumthor was asked to design the pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2011. The famous Swiss architect asked Oudolf to design the secluded courtyard and built his pavilion around it. This fruitful collaboration led to the design of an important element: the garden on the roof of the underground garage of the Meelfabriek. The garden will become a haven for residents and visitors in the midst of all the liveliness that the Meelfabriek has to offer. Oudolf: we met to discuss the Serpentine Gallery. Then Zumthor showed me the plans for the Meelfabriek. At first he just asked my advice. After a visit to the site in Leiden he asked me to come up with plans for the garden. In my opinion it will become unique. A lot of thinking went into the transformation of the old factory buildings. And then there is the location in the city. It has everything in it to become a success!’
Marcel Benedict (Bison Bike Company): ‘A special place’
‘For our concept ( bike tours through Leiden) we were looking for a suitable location in Leiden. A location that has a timeless, authentic look. A location that can be both tough and elegant. A location that is typical for the city. In the Meelfabriek all these elements came together; a perfect combination. Many of our customers are surprised and amazed when they walk through the entrance gate. The authentic look fits perfectly with the experience that we want to offer to our customers. The Meelfabriek almost feels like a warm coat that fits perfectly. We are very proud to be the first ‘enterprising party’ operating from the Meelfabriek and to share the history and importance of this industrial building with our groups and guests. They give us back the energy and inspiration to continue to develop; people are directly under the spell of what endless possibilities such an object can offer. We are eager to work with other creative, unique entrepreneurs to make this a special asset to Leiden.’