Architect, urban planner, landscape architect, and MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas has stepped as supervisor of Eindhoven city centre after almost five years in the role. Under his leadership between 2017 and 2022, there was increased emphasis on densification and greening in the city. He launched a number of plans, including a characteristic paving in Eindhoven stone, an Eindhoven National Park, and high-rise buildings comprising different layers: the Eindhoven Layer, the Muziekberg, and the Eindhoven Collection. As a supervisor, Maas has made projects by other architects possible and his vision for densification has become the city’s guideline for the future. He also made various studies for the Stadhuisplein, the city plan for greening, and building plans such as De Heuvel and the City Office. After his departure as supervisor, Maas, along with MVRDV, remains involved in Eindhoven in the form of projects such as De Heuvel, the City Office, and Nieuw Bergen, and others.
The city centre of Eindhoven struggles with a number of problems: the centre is sparsely populated and poorly laid out, with little greenery and underdeveloped public spaces. In the years that Winy Maas was supervisor of Eindhoven, his baseline was that every new development should offer a qualitative and sustainable improvement. This led to a number of (sometimes radical) plans such as raising St. Catherine’s Church and turning the office-like Stadhuisplein into a “dance square” to make the city attractive and inclusive, with projections that can be adjusted for each event.
An important achievement of the supervision was the Inner City Densification Vision. The vision, which was adopted by the city council at the end of 2020, shows that tens of thousands of additional homes can be created through densification alone. It introduces two layers in the city: an “Eindhoven layer” at ground level with a maximum height of 17 meters, and the “Brainport layer” on top, with individual buildings assigned different sizes and corresponding maximum heights – up to 45 metres (M), 75 metres (L), 105 metres (XL), and even 160 metres (XXL).
The Eindhoven Collection
A series of striking, architecturally and programmatically varied buildings collectively form the Eindhoven Collection. A number of them are under development: the VDMA; the Schellensterrein; V&D and the Chicago Tower; the Hema and the new Eindhoven, floating above the city; the disc on the Vestdijk; the light bulb; the staircase and the rock on the Schouwburgplein and the reconstruction of the old town hall. Lifting St. Catherine’s Church into the sky is the ultimate symbol of the vision.
Good public space is an integral part of the Densification Vision. Studies into this aspect have led to various plans for sustainability, from immersing the city centre in greenery to improving the material and lighting of existing streets. In line with these plans, test sections have been furnished with a new “Eindhoven stone”, the Vestdijk has been transformed, and Prins Clausplein has now become a park. These projects were the start of an “Eindhoven National Park”, which not only adds more greenery at street level, but also makes use of the roofs of the “Eindhoven Layer” for gardens and parks, made accessible by stairs, bridges, and more. This will make the city centre fuller, not only with people but also with trees, shrubs, and plants.
The four-year supervision by Maas was also defined by collaboration – with the municipality, fellow architects and designers, developers, and consultants in the fields of materials, greenery, and trees. Many Eindhoven residents were also involved in the plans, for example during workshops in various editions of the Dutch Design Week. Debates were held in the Eindhoven Architecture Centre, the Eindhoven University of Technology, and the Urban Land Institute, often in collaboration with The Why Factory, the think tank led by Winy Maas at TU Delft.
“I love Eindhoven and over the past five years I have drawn a lot of inspiration from debates and meetings with both supporters and opponents”, says Winy Maas. “That goes hand in hand with passion and criticism on my part too. When you present something unexpected, things can get heated. For me, being a supervisor doesn’t just mean meeting and advising, I also really want to do things myself. That was a part of the assignment that was given for the first four years. Not only supervising meetings, but also holding debates, making exhibitions and studies, as well as a limited number of architectural commissions. This interpretation of the supervisory function is used in many places in the world.
“Now that the assignment has changed, for me it is better to stop in order to keep my hands free for projects such as De Heuvel and the City Office. I look back with fondness: together with the municipality, Eindhoven residents, and various other stakeholders, we have brought the city centre to another level. It is now up to Eindhoven to realise the ambitions, sense of adventure, and urge to experiment that we formulated together.”
“Winy has the exceptional gift of stretching your brain – a mental yoga workout”, adds Martijn Paulen, director of the Dutch Design Foundation. “As far as I'm concerned, this is exactly what Eindhoven needs to go off the beaten track and leave sacred cows behind. In the quest for a new identity based on existing DNA, you need people like Winy to help the city take real steps forward. Not to shuffle, but to jump. I love it!”