DE WINKELHAAK / HOUSE OF C

WHERE CREATIVE PEOPLE CONNECT

In the late nineties the area around the Winkelhaak streets was dominated by prostitution, crime and drug use. The general public avoided the neighbourhood and the city was at the end of its rope. In 1999 the European Union, the Flemish Community and the City of Antwerp joined forces and committed themselves to launch a major cleaning campaign. The brothels were expropriated, the streets were rebuilt and a brand new modern building was raised. The revaluation of Antwerpen Noord had begun.

An independent needs study led to the concept and mission of Designcenter | De Winkelhaak: above all it was to become a business centre for designers; an affordable, professional working environment that empowered entrepreneurs by focusing on interaction and job satisfaction, not just an office, but a community, where knowledge and contacts are spontaneously shared.

This is still our mission.

Designcenter | De Winkelhaak had to finance its own operations and explicitly selected its shareholders in the business world. In this way the project became one of the first examples of a successful public-private partnership.

The second goal of De Winkelhaak was (and still is) to economically and socially boost the district by contributing to a positive image and attracting new people. The transparent new building was equipped with a large multipurpose space with plenty of daylight for organizing events and exhibitions to attract tourists as well as residents to the borough.

De Winkelhaak | House of C
In 2017 it was time to rethink our concept. After all, the goals of Designcenter | De Winkelhaak were largely achieved: the Antwerp creative sector was running at full speed and De Winkelhaak – as proof of concept – inspired numerous coworking spaces and coaching programs. The borough around De Winkelhaak had also become a fine mixture of colours, ages and spending power and the influx of young families was unmistakably a fact.

Still we felt it was too early to let go of the creative sector completely, there was still a lot of work to be done. Where we had focused on start-ups, incubation and promotion for 15 years, we now wanted to focus on the professionalization and maturity of the sector. Just like that De Winkelhaak evolved into a house of meetings and knowledge.

The exhibition space was converted to make room for six meeting and event spaces that can be used by both internal and external companies. Overnight, it seemed, we rebranded and changed our name to DE WINKELHAAK | HOUSE OF C, where creative people connect.

At the start of this overhaul, De Winkelhaak team’s nerves were tense. After all, converting the airy exhibition space could end up in architectural murder. Don’t forget that the building won several (international) awards for its architecture and its impressive but transparent presence in the streets. In the end we were very happy with the result. The transparency of the building has been preserved and the ‘display cases’ inspire more than ever to take a look inside to see what exactly is going on. The new meeting rooms are a feast for the eyes.

DE WINKELHAAK | HOUSE OF C, now, is the operating base and meeting place for numerous innovative and creative companies and entrepreneurs and is in fact the epicentre of creative and innovative entrepreneurship in Antwerp, as well as a hotspot for intellectual cross-pollination.

DE WINKELHAAK HOUSE OF C

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