Mei and four other offices took part in the European public procurement process for the complete restoration and transformation of the Eiffel building in Maastricht. 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 products 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 in such a way as 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 the typical column heads, and also the display of and reference to the sanitary fittings contained in every Dutch building and home by means of a glazed screen. 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 suitable and 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 building, thus attracting even more people to the building.
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 opportunities to recover the investment are both increased and accelerated.
For this architect selection procedure, Mei worked with OeverZaaijer on the urban plan, with fire expert Ralph Hamerlink and with construction engineer DGMR.