transformation industrial monument
The city of Maastricht is considering whether to repurpose the Eiffel, a listed structure, and transform it for multiple use. Located on Boschstraat, the Eiffel is a former factory building where Sphinx sanitary fittings were once manufactured. Simple, sturdy and industrial in appearance, the Eiffel dominates the industrial surroundings of the former Sphinx complex thanks to its imposing scale. The complex was designed to facilitate mass production efficiently and optimally. This is legible in the uniformity, repetition of the column grid, and the 183-m length of the building.
In response to the commission from the City of Maastricht, Mei drew up a proposal that, in terms of its approach to the complete restoration of the Eiffel building, emphasised its great monumental and historical significance, as evidenced by the reinforced concrete bearing structure featuring floors without beams and distinctive column heads, and also the display of, through a glazed screen, the sanitary fittings contained in every Dutch building and home. The legibility of mass production is emphasised by the typical structure and typology, and the atmosphere and repetition of the columns, windows and floors. Moreover, the use of historical sanitary products demonstrates the connection with industrial production.
Placemaking also plays an important role in the design by allowing many people to become familiar with the Eiffel building, which contains a fittingly remarkable multipurpose programme that facilitates and stimulates innovation and creates conditions for encounters. The building transforms into a vertical city, with a mixed and possibly even changing composition of residents, students, workspaces, studios, small businesses, café, hotel rooms and temporary functions such as a pop-up restaurant, exhibition, etc. This will attract many people to the Eiffel building, especially at the start, and they in turn will talk about the beautiful and unique industrial structure, thus attracting even more people to the venue.
Measures like emphasising the monumental and historical aspects of the building and increasing awareness of it through placemaking will have a positive effect on the value of the building. Owing to this strategy, the chances of recovering the investment are both increased and accelerated.