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We spent several hours roughing out five ideas for actual projects that could be initiated in Breda (and in other high-speed station cities). Then we condensed these 300-plus expert-hours into four-minute pitches just long enough to describe the projects to an investor in elevator.
1) Breda Exchange (visual presentation pdf / 3.7mb)
What can Breda offer visitors, apart from the usual range of consumer activities? This project explored a ‘learning line’, a knowledge and information exchange, as a means of attracting people to the city.
Breda Exchange would share knowledge and add value to empty (waiting) time, while connecting travellers to each other and to local people, who would enjoy acting as ambassadors for their city. It would enrich the travel experience, create a new meeting place, and enable an open space for entrepreneurial as well as cultural activities.
Passengers boarding the train bound for Breda would receive text messages listing Breda Exchange opportunities at the station, for example: a Spanish class, local wartime story workshop, a local theatre performance, a Playstation gaming group, and a kitchenware demonstration.
These activities would be publicised on the departures/arrivals notice board at Breda station, orange arrows indicating a commercial activity, white a not-for-profit one; commercial activities enabling the free ones.
Volunteer teachers would submit their class offers to the online system; later, SMS messages would confirm attendance. Teachers would not be paid, but receive exchanges for credits free tickets, a place to stay, and so on.
Partners in this scenario would be the High Speed Train Platform, the City of Breda, and telecoms operators. Actors could include any local cultural or commercial players. Initital investments would involve a data exchange infrastructure. Income could be derived from exchange of information (pay for posting and access), and rental fees for physical space.
2) ServiceLane (visual presentation, powerpoint / 1.2mb)
What would make arriving in Breda different from arriving anywhere else on the high-speed line? The ServiceLane scenario assumes an experience in which the traveller is waited for, and welcomed.
(ServiceLane team: Francois Jegou, Gerard Hadders.)
3) Train 2 Meet (visual presentation, powerpoint / 4.2mb)
A report from Amsterdam’s RAI congress centre estimates that, in 2010, employees will spend five per cent of their time in training or meetings. (IBM staffers do so now). Thanks to its location between the Randstad (urban conglomeration of North Holland), and Belgium (Antwerp, Brussels), Breda is well-placed to be a player in the growing meetings/congress venue market.
Since creatives don’t like the bland and uninspiring off-the-peg congress center format, (who does?), an alternative formula would find a ready market. Train 2 Meet proposes using farms, churches, and unusual industrial spaces. These would exploit the juxtaposition of multiple speeds: arriving by high-speed train, attendees could transfer to a slower-paced rural or urban setting.
This scenario identifies a new means of regional investment, and would create fresh meeting concepts by sharing and repurposing spaces. The existing landscape and urban fabric would be better used as a result. A range of places and locations might be used, according to context: so, a one-hour meeting could have a venue within a five-minute walk of the station, while two-day events could be held at remoter, rural locations.
Train 2 Meet would require start-up finance by regional and national governments and/or investors, aiming at self-sufficiency after two years. The actors would be the high-speed line, technical butlers (to supply technological needs), interface designers, location scouts
database managers to compile and maintain venue lists, and the space owners/holders.
The service would consist of: helping clients to select workshop models, and providing custom services for new formulas such as business & breakfast (B&B), courses & breakfast (C&B), and ad hoc peer-to-peer meetings
4) Slowville (visual presentation, powerpoint 28kb)
What if Breda were to exploit the fact that it is a quieter, smaller, and slower city than Rotterdam or Antwerp its noisier ‘neighbours’ on the high-speed line - a place where even the fast train itself slows down to 150km per hour? If time is more a luxury than money today, Breda’s true wealth might be its slowness.
The capital of Dutch Burgundy, Breda can claim to be both synonymous with fine living, and a “gateway to beautiful Brabant,” one of the Netherlands most rural provinces. It’s also one of the Carnival towns, and hosts various festivals (eg jazz, equestrian events).
Establishing a “ministry of festivals” in the city would develop Breda’s festive profile, and plug into the existing networks of cafés, etc. An international festival of busking (or arts de la rue) would cultivate street performance, while the local food traditions (beer, confectionary) could be the basis for food festivals. A ‘revived’ historical pageant (the French model) would capitalise on Breda’s history and quaintness. A “tiny but fab festival every day” would maximize the Carnival atmosphere.
To reinforce the slow image of Breda, a series of On the Slow Track events would be staged on the train itself. These might include local slow food, a soundtrack (birds, bells, jazz, horses hooves), visual feedback (fast images of speed giving way to slower ones), information & learning activities, and a ‘shoot the busker’ competition.
5) Train Organic (visual presentation, powerpoint / 3.9mb)
What if Breda were to take the initiative in transforming train food in the Netherlands? While consumer trends, at least in the high-speed train commuter demographic, are towards healthier eating and organic and specialist foods, train food remains bland, monotonous and unhealthy throughout the country. It doesn’t have to be this way. In Japan, speciality lunchboxes (bento) are a culinary artform and a major success story.
Adapting the Japanese lunchbox concept, the Train Organic brand would provide a boxed selection of regional and organic good food: A Little Bite of Breda. The box would contain typical products of the Brabant region (eg, bacon, beer, berries, broccoli) from local, traditional producers, with packaging and food information designed by local designers. The boxes would be sold from a handcart on the train itself, by a vendor in regional dress.
The Breda box would provide a model that could then be extended to other regions in the Netherlands, and Europe, using local producers, cooks and designers under the umbrella Train Organic brand.
A Slow Zone would be the real-estate extension of the brand: a café in Breda station, featuring a relaxed ambience and menus of regional, healthy food, provided by a programme of guest chefs. An antidote to the depressing fast food pitstops currently available, the Breda Slow Zone would act as a pilot, thereafter the project could be extended to other high-speed link station cities.
- Japanese lunchboxes (bento): http://www.jrtr.net/jrtr10/pe44_peo.html
The municipality also comprises the following towns, villages and townships: Bavel, De Rith, Effen, Eikberg, Hoeveneind, Kerkeind, Lies, Prinsenbeek, Roosberg, Strikberg, Teteringen, Ulvenhout.
The city itself has the following suburban neighbourhoods: Princenhage (former village), Ginneken (former village), de Haagse Beemden, de IJpelaar, Heusdenhout, and de Hoge Vucht.
The Dutch Royal Military Academy, Koninklijke Militaire Academie, is located here.
Breda's most popular football club, NAC Breda, plays in the highest Dutch league.
Economic activities are mainly industrial. Breda traditionally was, and still is, a center of the candy industry. Breda also has a sugar factory, supplying the candy industry, and a brewery (Oranjeboom) which is one of the biggest breweries in the Netherlands. Interbrew, the owner of the brewery decided in 2002 to close down the brewery in 2004. Breda also has a city center with beautiful old buildings and singels (moats). The shops and a shopping mall are located here. Breda is also the second biggest coffeeshop city from the Netherlands (Rotterdam comes first)
Breda has train stations Breda and Breda-Prinsenbeek, providing connections with Zuid-Holland (Dordrecht - Rotterdam - Den Haag) and Tilburg - Eindhoven/Den Bosch, and from station Breda also to Roosendaal with connection to Vlissingen.