Publication commemorating the 2014 finals programme at Building 026.
This preface was written on assignment for and in close deliberation with Charlotte Bik, director ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design Arnhem
I WAS HERE
In the summer of 2014 a buzz was going through the town centre of Arnhem.
A building was stripped back to its bare essence and then generously handed over to the youngest generation of creative professionals of the future.
In a remarkable collaboration Bank Credit Suisse provided a platform for all creativity generated by the graduate students of ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design. And for a whole month an artistic and cultural warehouse emerged, where once knowledge and wisdom was stored on the shelves of the town’s library.
After the public library had moved to a new location, Bank Credit Suisse together with Colliers International set the wheels in motion for a large scale renovation, a reconstruction and redefinement even, of the building at the Koningstraat. An ambitious plan to create an impressive new residence for several stores and offices, and most certainly not the easiest task in the heart of the city. They were determined not to turn the grounds into a demolition site, but were looking for ways to show the town the positive impulse they wanted to generate, even during this reconstruction period.
Meanwhile at the ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design we were making plans for a summer event, at a scale neither the school nor the town had yet seen. For the first time in its history we wanted to enable all of this year’s graduate students to present themselves to the world and the town, gathered in one location other than the school grounds, as close to the town centre as possible.
Being familiar with the general outline of all of these plans and ambitions, Robert Wittenberg of Dudok Arnhem connected the dots and saw an opportunity for an unusual collaboration between all three parties. What if a building could become its own universe, a temporary bastion for all creative events and any kind of encounter you could think of?
And so it came about that Bank Credit Suisse and Colliers International, represented by Bregje Nagtzaam and René Mol, Robert Wittenberg of Dudok Arnhem, and Rachid Naas and yours truly of ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design joined forces for the realization of this remarkable project.
But then the real work had only just begun. In a complex but also exciting process – and with all the support we could possibly ask for from Bregje en René – our production manager Rachid, together with all curators, the heads of the educational departments, the teachers, the eduction support office and above all the students have relentlessly faced every challenge and conquered all obstacles. Even battling with setbacks such as the discovery of asbestos in the building. A true team effort that most certainly paid off!
Together we were able to create a place buzzing with art an design: exhibitions, fashion shows, lectures and other events and of course the graduation ceremonies in the Pop-up City Canteen. A place to meet people, where students could show friends and family this world of its own, their world. All creative energy came together in this one location and inviting everybody who would like, to come and see and experience ‘I WAS HERE’.
We set out to show the world all the great things we can create, as an individual and collectively, a community, and I believe we more than succeeded. For the Arnhem buzz hasn’t gone unnoticed in the rest of the country. The number of visitors had never been bigger and the positive response was overwhelming at times.
We cannot emphasize enough that the universe, which was created at Building 026, would not have come about without the commitment and dedication of everybody involved, but mostly because two organizations as prominent as Bank Credit Suisse and Colliers International embraced our vision and made their building available to us. So on behalf of all participants I can sincerely say: thank you for your generosity!