SlotLab – Castle Schaesberg
Together crafts and modern technology shape the future
The ruins of Castle Schaesberg in South Limburg are reconstructed with centuries-old artisanal techniques. Architect Machiel Spaan and Simone de Waart constructed ‘SlotLab’ in parallel with the reconstruction with the aim of challenging designers to dust ‘old’ materials with contemporary technology: “Imagine it as a school for the old and new crafts where architects and product designers cooperate with the construction industry. Collaboration is at the heart of the craft. Because a blacksmith worked alongside a carpenter, they came up with the nail – they couldn’t have done that without each other.”
For SlotLab, De Waart and Spaan selected two architects and three designers for five so-called ‘mirror projects’; they were asked to literally construct part of the 17th-century castle after a phase of design study. “We have designers and architects who complement each other in terms of knowledge and disciplines and who want to cooperate.”
In the current corona crisis, the five designers experience even more strongly than before how new technology allows them to virtually work together. Although it now seems as if we are not bound to physical locations, in SlotLab place-specificity stands precisely alongside the deployment of modern technology. In this case, circular working is a requirement, but every designer deals with it differently: Daria Biryukova, for example, came up with a slate made of grit and Teresa van Dongen managed to generate light from bacteria on the bottom of the castle moat.
By closing local chains, the initiators hope to raise awareness. Spaan: “You now see, that due to the corona crisis, uncertainty in the supply of Chinese products is rising. The problem is that rich countries always find methods to get cheap stuff from somewhere.” De Waart: “Our mobile phone, for example, is full of scarce metals from African mines, but there are very few people who are aware of that.”
This is the third article in a series of six articles on the SlotLab, an initiative of Simone de Waart (Material Sense), Aryan Klein (Slot Schaesberg) and Machiel Spaan (M3H architects) in the context of the International Bau Ausstellung (IBA) Parkstad.