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Material Sense

Slotlab Final

By 05-04-2021

This month, the results of Slotlab were published, a project within the framework of the IBA Parkstad, the first International Bau Ausstellung outside Germany. The online publication describes the results and the process of a special project in which circularity, craftsmanship and new technology are central.

About Slotlab
The Slotlab is a research project into innovative techniques and materials inspired by traditional crafts. It investigates how building products can be manufactured in a circular way. Slotlab thus contributes to a new approach to the reconstruction of monumental buildings.

Slot Schaesberg and Slotlab
Slot Schaesberg in Landgraaf is being rebuilt. The complex includes a castle farm and country estate dating from the 17th century. The project serves as a backdrop and source of inspiration for Slotlab. The moated castle was built in the 16th and 17th centuries in the style of the Maasland Renaissance. It was one of the best and most extensive examples of this style in the Maasland region. After the French era, the castle gradually fell into disrepair and was finally demolished in 1968 due to the danger of collapse.

In 2012, the grounds were made accessible again and in 2015 reconstruction began. Currently, the tower of Schaesberg Castle is being rebuilt by the Schaesberg Castle Foundation. Old crafts and materials are being used. More than 80 young people and volunteers are carrying out the construction work and thus acquiring traditional craftsmanship. In this way, this knowledge is preserved for the future. Thanks to IBA Parkstad, Slotlab is also applying innovative techniques. This takes the form of five mirror projects, each of which redesigns a building component or element: the labs KAP, LEI, HAARD, LIGHT and VIRTUAL REALITY, which made all solutions digitally visible. In all labs, designers, the construction industry and education are linked.

The idea for Slotlab was developed after the project was submitted in the Open Call of IBA Parkstad in 2014. The starting signal of Slotlab followed on 31 March 2015. At that time, a 3d-printed scale model of the tower was unveiled, with parts printed by more than thirty 3d-printers from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Initiators Simone de Waart of Material Sense and Machiel Spaan of M3H Architects developed Slotlab into five different mirror projects. These were carried out within a number of labs, for which they each selected a designer or architect. In each lab; LICHT, HAARD, LEI, KAP and VIRTUAL REALITY, a designer set to work to apply local materials sustainably and to develop new technology and production methods for the cultural heritage.

Successful developments
The labs appear to be successful. Lab LEI, by Daria Biryukova, received the Best of the Best award in the product design 2021 category of the Red Dot Award, an important international design prize. In Lab LEI, Biryukova developed specially shaped roofing slates from geopolymers, made from the residual flow from the production of traditional slates. In the Lab LICHT, designer Teresa van Dongen developed the lighting with bacteria living in the Slotgracht. The luminaire was partly made by a traditional blacksmith. This lab received national attention on Zapp Planet, a TV programme for young people about climate and sustainability.

Online publication:

More SlotLab articles

Project photos: Wouter Kooken
Slot Schaesberg photos: Jan van Dalen