A couple of weeks ago by now I finally got to visit our new office in the Vechtclub XL building in Utrecht. This turned out to be a great experience.
One of the best aspects of the ‘club’ is that it offers an alternative to Utrecht’s terribly cramped and overpriced city center. Everybody wants to live and work in the Utrecht within the ‘singels’ but that privilege costs a lot of money and doesn’t give you a lot of quality of life. Only if you manage to strike a suitable property deal with the city you can do whatever the fuck you want.
The Vechtclub XL is a fifteen minutes bike ride out of the city on a derelict business park, about here. There’s nearly nothing nearby which means the building needs to be self-sustaining. That necessity is actually causing that to happen. They are setting up a fully functional cafetaria with world class coffee and more facilities. Being there right now is not terrible. People make do with whatever they have already brought in and there are upsides such as somebody training for a barista championship, lunch being brought in once a week and other events being organized.
This is a continuation of a previous non-XL Vechtclub. Most of it has been funded by the people there who run it not as a cooperative —which looks to be vital. Development is autonomous and moves at a fast clip. The space which is already pretty great is improving continuously.
You can imagine that I was a bit envious and loathe to leave. The upside is that it’ll probably be all new again next time I get there.
Going down everywhere
I was looking around a bit to see if something similar is happening in Berlin or other places as well.
Adam Greenfield mentioned the Institut for (X) in Aarhus which looks very similar in its setup and goals. In Berlin there is the Alte Gießerei which is being converted into a similar setup1. There are a bunch more spaces that do something in that direction but most of them do not manage to hit the scale or communal vibe that I try to describe above.
- It manages to hit the same concentration of disciplines, scale, workshops and it is conveniently far out of the city center in Lichtenberg. ↩