Philips’ Transitional Urban Identity

Philips has been singularly dominant in shaping Eindhoven as it created individual buildings, infrastructure and even whole neighborhoods. Then it left. In assessing the impact of what remains of this industrial heritage as nostalgia swells in the community, what is left may be the very idea of Eindhoven. The new identity is formed from the remnants of the past, making it inauthentic in its mimicry. The past draw of nostalgia acts on the present reality on a citywide scale. What impact does nostalgia have on the artificial construction of collective memory?

There are waves of development for cities. They come like the tides, leaving all sort of artifacts behind, some are physical, some – of the mind. As this industrial ebb and flow unfurls it can define a city. The heritage of a community is based on the sum of these coming historical tides. The transitions of one industry to another leaves behind buildings and infrastructure as well as the memory of their presence, the psychological hint of their past. Such elements can become relics that form the core identity of a city long after the industry that spawned them retreats on the waves of time.

The range of impact that built projects had on Eindhoven is rather vast. It is felt from a literal icon of Evolution, to the nostalgic draw of Veemgebouw and its contemporary infusion into the city life, to the overwhelming dominance of the spirit of NatLab as is now felt by the presence of the University of Eindhoven. The buildings were a vessel to gather the population to the city. The promise of the buildings and their content enriched the imagination and prompted action and development. The recollection of this dynamic past is imprinted on the contemporary generations and further fuels growth of the city via nostalgic reinterpretation. The former industrial buildings now house smaller businesses that are diverse and urban in nature. The grind of the workplace is replaced by the sublime of the cultural and entertainment venues. In many ways this new era of Eindhoven is more dynamic, and vibrant, promising an even brighter future. Philips left Eindhoven with a legacy of not just a built environment, but an identity and purpose, a reputation for innovation and technical competence. This is the collective memory of the city, as formed by the periodical encounters with the places from the past.

Scale models

The all-white models are built in a 1:33 scale and include a mirror. When seen from one side the models show the interior and purpose of the industrial building, when seen from the other side the models show how the buildings are adapted to their current purpose.

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