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From old prison to innovation hub

The newest member of the Design Factory family opens its doors in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden.

Judging from the buzz of activity all around, it is hard to believe that just ten years ago this was one of Holland's most remote backwaters.

Now part of Leeuwarden's former Blokhuispoort Prison has been transformed into an innovation hub that brings together business, research, and studies: Frisian Design Factory, or FDF, the ninth member of a network that has spread out from Aalto University to become worldwide.

'Already during its start-up phase, the Netherlands' first Design Factory has taken an active role in our international network. Cooperative work has centred especially on preparations for research projects and innovative study experiments. I have been impressed with how quickly their project has progressed, and we ourselves have learned from their implementation plan. Interaction is supported in many ways. For example, the winners of the doctoral student's poster campaign, presented in the opening ceremony, get the chance to visit Aalto University and its Design Factory', relates Director of Aalto Design Factory Kalevi Ekman with great excitement.

FDF operates under the NHL University of Applied Sciences, which in the future will merge with Stenden University. According to FDF Coordinator Eric Voigt, the goal is that already in the coming year the innovation hub will become a center for cooperation between businesses and universities. In the next few years, the whole prison area will be developed into a centre for creative and innovative activities, with the goal of being ready by 2018 when Leeuwarden will be the European Capital of Culture. The first step towards opening up the prison area to the general public is the D'Lab Fablab which started up at the same time with Frisian Design Factory.

Photos: Frisian Design Factory

Frisian Design Factory

Aalto Design Factory

Design Factory Global Network

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