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Brabant Living Lab: vibrant foundation for the future

31 October 2019

Daniel Raven-Ellison, 100 seconds of Brabant
The interactive Living Landscape exhibition put on during Dutch Design Week (DDW), has been a great opportunity to show why and how the province of Noord-Brabant is committed to innovation and investing in smart partnerships.

'As the province, we would like to engage in a dialogue with people,’ general director Marcel van Bijnen explains. ‘The interactive Living Landscape exhibition put on during Dutch Design Week was an inspirational environment for having this conversation. It gave us the opportunity to show why and how we are committed as a province to innovation and at the same time, that we are consciously investing in smart partnerships. In Brabant, we are working on the future together, an idea that also reverberated in the discussions with visitors. I spoke with someone from the Province of Gelderland who came to DDW just to see how we do it. He mentioned Brabant’s strength when it comes to working together to arrive at smart innovations. This is in fact one of the areas we excel at, and it’s also crucial for our future.’

Living Landscape
© Brabant Living Lab, Ketelhuisplein

Living Landscape

The interactive Living Landscape exhibit inspired and challenged visitors to make choices for the future. The exhibit enabled them to experience how green energy flows, changes in agriculture, smart mobility, innovative strength and circular construction all come together in their city or town. It also showed them how they can impact their future environment.

De Kolumn
© Living Landscape


Visitors also had the opportunity to put together their own ‘newspaper of the future’ in the Living Landscape called 'De Kolomn'. By registering intuitive responses to a variety of questions or principles, situations or photos were recorded that literally made their hearts beat faster. They ultimately saw their ideas appear in the daily digital newspaper of the future. This proved to be a wake-up call for some: did their preferences really lead to the future they wanted?

© Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality


During the week, the Living Landscape served as a test environment for a serious game, ‘The Landshapers’, on the future of our food system. The players stepped into the shoes of a specific group of people, such as farmers or contractors, learning about the potential conflicts and dilemmas they face. Time after time, the players saw that it was only by playing the game well as a team that they could arrive at a desirable end result. The game was developed by the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and around 90 parties from business, government and special interest groups working together. The Landshapers will travel throughout the Netherlands during the coming year.

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100-metre expedition

Many inspiring speakers gave presentations in the theatre during Dutch Design Week, including the premiere of a 100-metre expedition through Brabant. The proud maker of the film is National Geographic ‘guerilla’ geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison who had previously put together a similar film documenting his travels through Great Britain, in the hope of making a dramatic change in people’s ideas about nature. During the premiere, visitors had the unique opportunity to learn more about the story and person behind the film. Throughout the week, Raven-Ellison also engaged in personal conversations with visitors about the importance of nature in our living environment and what we are willing to do about it, together.

Embassy of Water
© Het Lab, Campina area

Embassy of Water

Van Bijnen: ‘In Brabant, we don’t shy away from pioneering, or trying out new forms of cooperation. This was one of the reasons we participated in two embassies of World Design Embassies. We took part in the Embassy of Water with the Dommel District Water Board, the Municipality of Eindhoven, the Netherlands Ministry of Waterways and Public Works, Dutch Design Foundation and several designers.’ This embassy put on an exhibit at the Campina terrein that included designs for water quality and water circularity such as ‘choose what you use’, addressing water consumption in the future. After viewing the exposition, several organisations indicated their interest in exhibiting the installations in their own work environment. ‘As a province, we regularly work with designers. This can yield an often radically different view on and surprising solutions to social issues.’

Biobasecamp, Ketelhuisplein
© Studio Marco Vermeulen

Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building

Another inspirational partnership came together during Dutch Design Week at the Embassy of Circular and Biobased Construction in which the Province worked closely with Dutch Design Foundation, Studio Marco Vermeulen, Floriade 2022 and Stichting Nieuwe Helden (the New Heroes Foundation). They zoomed in on the very latest social challenges we face today: How can we make sure that everyone in the Netherlands will have housing in the coming years while also ensuring that climate goals will be met given these building criteria? Serving as inspiration, they built two iconic model projects for DDW within a short period of time at the Ketelhuisplein: the Biobasecamp, made from cross-laminated timber and Brabant poplar trees (which came from the area adjacent to the A2 motorway), and the Growing Pavilion, made from bio-based materials, primarily mycelium.