Crafting a new workshop at Het Werkgebouw

Get a welder and a furniture maker together, and they’ll make a table with a metal frame. Add an architect and graphic designer into the mix, and you get playful street furniture. A whole really is more than just the sum of its parts. It inspires cooperation, creates energy, generates more money and increases the fun. That is the formula needed to create Het Werkgebouw: a cooperative of craftspeople in the Tapijn area of Maastricht. This marks the building’s fifth anniversary, so it’s only right that there’s a celebration. And you are cordially invited.

Loet Gescher and Juulke Brosky work together under the label gescher+brosky

The doors of the old bus depot on the site of the former Tapijn barracks are wide open. There are some enticing rustic chairs and tables in front of a large facade. You can hear the hustle and bustle, even on a Monday morning. An engine starting up, the sound of a saw whirring, a hammering noise. The location arouses your curiosity, and beckons you at the same time. And that is exactly the intention.

Passionate about work

Juulke Brosky, a graphic designer and one of the founders of Het Werkgebouw, explains. “We want people to feel like they can simply walk right in, and not just because we want to sell our products; there is much more to it than that. We want to tell them how passionate we are about our work, something which is as much fun for visitors as it is for us. It’s nice when someone is interested in the things you make.” Loet Gescher, jewellery designer and resident of Het Werkgebouw, agrees. “There are lots of freelancers working at home or in some industrial unit. You can’t just walk in there. So, we deliberately chose to be open. That’s why we also run hands-on sessions, out of love of our profession and the pleasure that we get from it. It’s fantastic to be able to share that.”

How it all started

At the end of 2013, ten entrepreneurs came together to sell homemade products from a building on Maastricht’s Minckelersstraat. It was an experiment, which was so successful that they decided to carry on. They all shared one dream: to have a nice big workshop where they could work on their various crafts together. A vibrant hub for cross-pollination.

In late 2014, they found what they had been looking for, in the form of an abandoned bus depot on the site of the old Tapijn barracks. They have since done a lot with the place, and the surrounding area too. “When we first came here, the site was rather barren. There was just no life here. So, we rolled up our sleeves and together we made some street furniture. The aim was to bring this place back to life and put it on the map,” says Juulke. Het Schommelstation – a former petrol station turned into swings – was also born out of Het Werkgebouw. This was made possible thanks to the help of the crowdfunding, the Elisabeth Strouven Fund, the university and the municipality. Now the area has been brought back to life. Juulke continues, “You see children playing on the swings, students studying, elderly people resting after a stroll and teenagers hanging out after school. It’s alive again.” So, is it a case of mission accomplished? “Yes, but there is still more we could do. Just call us placemakers. We have brought something new to this place, which has then spurred on other things. But that doesn’t happen by itself. We’re going to keep on going.”

About Het Werkgebouw and Tapijn 

12 creatives got together to form Het Werkgebouw. You can also get involved through workshops. For more info, please visit www.hetwerkgebouw.nl.

The exhibition hall is where we display the work of everyone at Het Werkgebouw. Every two months, we showcase the work of one of them in an exhibition. Until 31 October, the graphic artworks of Chris Lemmens of Kloroform will be on display.

Het Werkgebouw’s home is only temporary, as the university, the municipality and the province have plans for the Tapijn – encompassing greenery, education and research. For more info, please visit: www.gemeentemaastricht.nl/tapijn

Party time

On 5 October, Het Werkgebouw will be celebrating its fifth anniversary – including a beer crate race and a fabulous party. You are very welcome to join from 5 p.m. You will also have the chance to take home a product made by one of the Werkgebouw residents. 

In the spotlight: The bagmakers of Het Werkgebouw

Name: Loet Gescher and Juulke Brosky work together under the label gescher+brosky
Product: Bags made out of old banners, and workshops. Do you want to make your own bag? Check out loetgescher.juulkebrosky.nl.