October 16, 2016

House in Huissen advertised as ‘haunted’

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 10:30 pm

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You don’t often see night-time photography on housing sites, but this real estate agent had a special reason. They are advertising their 16th century, 270 square metre farm house in Huissen near Arnhem as haunted.

Whether they are taking their ghoulish inhabitants seriously, remains to be seen. The advert quickly adopts a more serious tone. The house is currently the property of Dutch celebrity Johan Vlemmix who in the first decade of this century unsuccessfully ran for parliament in the hope of becoming Minister of Parties. He bought the house in 2008 from another serial celebrity, positivity guru Emile Ratelband (catch phrase: ‘Tchakaaa’).

Ratelband had to sell the house, or so the story goes, because his wife thought it was haunted. Vlemmix tried to use the publicity in turn by organising ‘horror evenings’ in the old farm.

Having had celebrity owners and having a built in bar and cinema is not helping much so far. In the past eleven months the asking price has already been dropped by 50,000 euro to 350,000 euro. That doesn’t strike me as much, so maybe it is a monster to heat. Whether the prospective buyer will get all the props that were used for the photographs is unclear, but Vlemmix promises to throw in six caskets.

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(Photos: Funda.nl)

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June 16, 2014

Eccentric farmers can kiss privacy goodbye

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 9:29 am

calves-orangemasterIn a fascinating article by anthropologist Lizzy van Leeuwen in De Groene Amsterdammer last month, she describes how farmers’ association LTO, together with the Dutch government, has set up a system for detecting and dealing with early warning signs of the mistreatment of farm animals.

A database kept by Vetrouwensloket Welzijn Landbouwhuisdieren (the confidential office for the well-being of farm animals) tracks symptoms such as excess deaths and diseases, hurt and crippled animals, parasites, poor development of young animals, and so on.

Nobody could object to such a system, but the database also registers information about the farmers themselves based on the idea that unhappy farmers make unhappy farm animals. This information includes attendance at meetings and the number of friendships a farmer maintains. Do farmers stop answering their phones and do their relationships fail? It is all registered.

If the signals reach a certain danger level, a team is sent to the farmers in question to try and help them get back on track. Magazine Veeteelt ran a headline in 2010 that aptly describes the duality of this approach: “Animal neglect can happen to anyone. [This system] prevents a negative image of the industry.”

The result is that some farmers—the loners, the ‘known’ problem cases—are pushed into extreme transparency through a finely mazed network of ‘reporters’ or ‘snitches’, depending on who you talk to. These are often the ‘erfbetreders’, a Dutch word I did not know until yesterday meaning ‘those who walk onto the farmyard’—the people who have to be on the farm for business and who rat out the farmer on the side.

Van Leeuwen’s four page article goes into incredible detail on how farmers are viewed by the general public. She hypothesizes that the Dutch have lost contact with farming world. Between 1947 and 1990 the percentage of people working in agriculture dropped from 20% to 4%. The general public are now in the habit of seeing farmers through isolated incidents, such as the 2011 tragedy in which a farmer from Brummen, Gelderland killed about 100 cows with a tractor and then killed himself. Van Leeuwen speaks of “a trend of viewing farmers as professional animal abusers”.

The result is that farmers have not just become an out-group, but in order to close the ranks they have decided to nip rare and extreme cases of animal abuse in the bud by creating their own out-group of lonely and eccentric farmers. Ironically, this does not seem to apply to factory farming, a practice to which pretty much everybody turns a blind eye.

Van Leeuwen’s article, “De weg van alle vlees—dierverwaarlozing op de boerderij“, is available on the web (in Dutch), but unfortunately behind a pay wall.

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February 3, 2013

Glass building printed with farm texture by MVRDV

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 12:08 pm

As the architect’s web page crudely puts it, after Operation Market Garden in World War II the Dutch town of Schijndel in North Brabant was left with an ‘oversized’ market place.

MVRDV’s founder Winy Maas had been lobbying town hall to do something useful with all that space, and after his seventh attempt, he finally got his wish. On 17 January the building of the glass farm on the Markt in Schijndel was completed. The building is made to look like an oversized farm (scale 1.6:1) and is made entirely out of glass, on which a texture has been printed.

MVRDV writes:

The building with a total surface area of 1600 m2 contains shops, restaurants, offices and a wellness centre. The exterior is printed glass with a collage of typical local farms; a monument to the past but 1.6 times larger than life.

In collaboration with MVRDV, artist Frank van der Salm photographed all the remaining traditional farms, and from these an image of the ‘typical farm’ was composed. This image was printed using fritted procedure onto the 1800m2 glass facade, resulting in an effect such as a stained glass window in a cathedral. The print is more or less translucent depending on the need for light and views.

The print lets in light from outside during the daytime and the building is illuminated from the inside during the night.

This is what the square looked like in October 2010 according to Google:

(Photo: MVRDV)

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July 30, 2012

Best mud pit for pigs in Buren

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 8:58 am

The Lekker Dier foundation, a farm animal welfare group, announced last Thursday that the best mud pit for pigs in 2012 is the one in the farmyard of the Van Leeuwen family in Buren.

“This pit is large, nice and deep, and muddy. Perfect for a lovely cool down in this warm weather.”

This year marked the eighth time the trophee was awarded. Only one percent of the 12 million pigs in the Netherlands have access to mud baths. Pigs use mud baths to regulate their temperature and to keep their skin clean from parasites.

Buren is a village near Tiel, in the largest province of the Netherlands, Gelderland.

Check the Stad Tiel article for some photos of happy (and even smiling) pigs.

(Photo of pigs in the USA by US Department of Agriculture / Lance Cheung, and therefore in the public domain)

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July 7, 2012

Oldest farm in Western Europe almost torn down

Filed under: Architecture,History by Branko Collin @ 11:36 am

Farmer Piet Scheepers from Best, Noord Brabant, simply did not know that this barn of his was so old. He figured 300 years, tops. And because it was difficult to work in due to the low ceiling, he was ready to tear the building down, six years ago.

Research by local historian Dick Zweers has since put a stop to those plans, Omroep Brabant reports. Zweers found out that the wood in the building was from 1263: “The first thing I noticed that this used to be the sort of house where there was always a fire, people were always in the same room, they always had a need for warm water—you can tell by those sooted beams.” He adds: “There have been changes, but the construction is in essence still the same.”

Scheepers had already acquired a permit for demolition, now the government wants to turn the barn—which currently houses calves—into a state monument, and is willing to invest 100,000 euro in renovation, as is the provincial government.

Omroep Brabant calls this the oldest farm still in use in Western Europe. Back in November, Zweers was still hedging his bets: “Great Britain has also got a lot of old stuff.”

(Photo: Google Street View)

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September 20, 2009

Made from pig

Filed under: Animals,Design by Branko Collin @ 11:34 am

Christien Meindertsma documented 185 products contributed to by a single pig in an exhibition at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam last year, and in a book (also available in a pigskin bound version, of course). Pig 05049 won her one of the five 2009 Index design awards in August.

The list of good things coming from a pig includes bacon of course, yoghurt, pudding, paints, enamels (bone china!), cigarettes, brakes, bullets, and washing powder. The distinct smell of crayons is pig.

The Index Award prize money, 100,000 euro, will go in part to making the book available on the web, but if you want print copies you can buy them via Amazon and so on. The print version shows all the products life-sized.

(Via Jason Kottke. Source photo: Indexaward.dk.)

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