Low-tech & fast
TILBURG (NL) - Immediately to the north of the Tilburg station is the rail yard, an extensive tract of land where the Dutch railways have maintained and repaired their trains since the last quarter of the 19th century. This area, having been closed to the public for more than a century, will be redeveloped in the coming years and integrated with the city. In the meantime, the yard played host last September to a Festival of Huts, where artists, designers and architects, with the help of volunteers, set about building their designs.
The organizers described this DIY festival as 'a condition-free haven of hospitality and imagination – a unique collaboration of artists, designers, architects, entertainers and visitors of all ages working together to create a real, working village complete with a village square, a theatre, a factory, a pub and restaurant, a large fireplace and a playground'. The participating designers included 2012 Architecten, Piet Hein Eek, Observatorium, Detours, Studio Boot, Hilberink Bosch, and Onix (whose 'house-tree' was an inversion of the usual treehouse).
Low-tech, rapid-build, partly improvised and with wood as the main building material – over the course of ten days participants built a temporary community, dubbed the 'vlek', a term formerly applied to towns that had not been enfranchised as cities (of which Tilburg itself was one). Although the social experience of building was at least as important as the artistic outcome, the festival products are, in all their unpretentiousness, a compelling argument in favour of rapid and simple execution of an architectural idea. (Hans Ibelings)