Inholland Start Up Campus Haarlem (SUCH), a space that moves people

‘The space itself is important, but it is more important that the space moves people.’

Frank ‘t Hart, manager of the Business Studies programs from the Inholland University of Applied Sciences asked me to design a space and a program at the Inholland location Haarlem where entrepreneurial students can work on there businesses next to there studies. Where students can explore and develop entrepreneurial skills. The space should facilitate multi disciplinary working between all the programs Inholland Haarlem offers. I needed to inspire the Creative, Business, Sports & Healthcare, Technology, Music & Entertainment and Educational programs to do more with entrepreneurship in their education.

The result is the Inholland Start Up Campus Haarlem. SUCH turned into the entrepreneurial hub of Inholland Haarlem where students, lecturers, businessmen and local government come together to set up business cases and work on entrepreneurial mindsets. SUCH is working with various stakeholders to meet the challenges of our time to start compelling companies / startups that give students the opportunity to experiment with entrepreneurship, learn form each other and facilitate a network. Besides the physical space, used human entered design and co-design to develop a entrepreneurial program, develop a vision about entrepreneurship in the local Haarlem and University context and I designed the connection between the network in the region.

The physical space is divided into three flexible areas. One is the creative and brainstorm zone, one is the meeting zone and if you like the office feel, there is one zone that is catered to working at an office desk with proper office chairs.

From a personal and design perspective, SUCH is a social lab that not only gives students the space to develop entrepreneurship, but also challenges teachers and managers to think differently about education as entrepreneurship is a learning by doing act and not something you learn from a book or an powerpoint presentation. The space itself is important, but it is more important that the space moves people.

For the interior I worked with only local craftsmen & local entrepreneurs. The tables are made from local harvest trees by Nederlands Hout . They have a Circular Economy approach. The boards are made by social enterprise Woodwerk  and the cabinets are crafted by designer and woodworker Ron Boudrie. It was great working with these skilled people and have the smell of wood going through my nose when I visited the workshops. For the rest of the interior I recycled as much furniture from the university as possible. I wanted to make the Start Up Campus a  local project, where as many people as possible benefit.

Dennis Cup’s Haerlems Bodem made nice vid (in dutch) about the making of the furniture.

At the end of the project the University realised that if the Start Up Campus wants to become successful the Campus shouldn’t be only part of the Universities Business Domain, but it should be from the University as a hole facilitating entrepreneurship for every student from every study program. I want to thank Frank ‘t Hart for is vision and his trust in hiring me a s designer to create the Inholland Start Up Campus Haarlem. And I want to thank all the stakeholders, students, teachers and university management for this amazing journey. Without them this wasn’t possible.

For me as a designer these kind of projects are rare. I had the opportunity to use all the aquired skills in my career as designer. My original trade as a product designer, my experience with concept development, design thinking & human entered design, my experience as a teacher and facilitator made this project into a unforgettable work & design project. And as always, I learned tons of new things.


Author: Jeroen Spoelstra


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