"In the trendy city Eindhoven has become, with its innovation and technique, another dimension could be of great value."

"It is always difficult to launch a big and new project. Once you start you know the road won't be easy. That is why the satisfaction is so big once you can celebrate together when the project has succeeded." Talking here is Henri Swinkels on behalf of the Socialist Party he was representative of livability and culture in the province Noord-Brabant and in that function the re-use of Mariënhage was a project that kept him busy.

National monument service

For a moment he is back in the township house of Brabant where the board meets. For the interview we found a quiet place to talk with each other. The officials are used to the new representatives but the old ones haven't been forgotten yet. It is a happy moment. Swinkels looks back with passion on the way with which the developments of the Brabantse heritage sites went. "As a province we also believed in the redevelopment of this special piece of Eindhoven. Sometimes it was hard to keep all parties on board and I remember the period in which we had to deal with the national monument service who believed that certain aspects needed to be guaranteed. It asks a lot of courage to deviate from that plan."

Exposing the story

The province is working hard when it comes to the preservation of heritage. Special heritage gets a new life, such as weaving company De Ploeg in Bergeijk and different parts of the NS Workshop in Tilburg. In order to receive support from the province it has to fit in the storylines that determine the history of Brabant. Of the four storylines who shape that direction, three of them apply to the redevelopment of Mariënhage: Religious Brabant (monasteries and churches), fought over Brabant (military heritage) and administrative Brabant (castles and villas)*. Swinkels: "What I find very beautiful is that we created a different place for Eindhoven together with DOMUSDELA. It forms a nice pathway to the area behind the closed buildings. The green area makes it very pleasant and public. Everyone can visit. We can obviously all see the statue of Christ on the tower, that is an icon and important mark of the city, but what can be found beneath the statue? That used to be for initiates only. With the new location we expose the stories and all of Eindhoven can see them.

Augustine philosophy of life

Swinkels has been raised a Catholic and has abandoned his faith. That was forthcoming because he graduated as an evolution biologist. The Augustines, however, retrieved a special place in his heart. "I talked a lot to the fathers and learned about their philosophy of life. They connect with God through society. This appeals to me because in this time we have all these questions about life that can't be religiously answered, but do find a spiritual way and this asks for reflection. For this search from people the Augustines say 'it doesn't have to go our way, as long as it happens'. Such an open attitude is remarkable for a monasterial order. They are flexible and hopeful. That touches me."

Meaningful place

"In this time we easily run past important life questions. A lot of teenagers lose their way. More alarm bells should be ringing. Why is earning as much money as possible not the answer? An empty existence is created with this. DOMUSDELA helps in finding the answer. The fathers have faith in that. They believe that their heritage becomes a meaningful place in a new way. Perhaps there is not much change needed and is all that is needed a place to be and to be still. To walk inside through the Knoop and sit down in the garden. Especially in the trendy city of Eindhoven, with all the innovation and technique, another dimension could be valuable. Running and standing still."

The province of Noord-Brabant offers € 2.3 million for the restoration of the Paterskerk, the Augustinianum and the student chapel. Besides that, the province also provides a loan to DELA for the entire redevelopment for an amount of € 5 million.

* The storylines that matter for the history of Brabant

Religious Brabant, because it is one of the eight monasteries in Brabant of which a part still consists of clear recognizable medieval buildings. It is the only of the once sixty medieval monasteries in Brabant of which a complete medieval living wing has been preserved.

Fought over Brabant, during the eighty years' war the Castle fell and the ruins that were left were in the hands of Staatsen and the Spaniards.

Administrative Brabant Mariënhage, also tells the story of the history of existence of Eindhoven, the biggest city in Brabant. The monastery has been founded on the remains of a castle (15th century), later the castle where the gentlemen Van Cranendonk and Eindhoven lived.

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