Cover photo by Bert Janssen, extract from the book “Cultural Freezone Landbouwbelang Maastricht”
Abandoned years ago from its task of storing grain (after being an monastery and then a cattle trade centre), the massive building was squatted in 2002. Thanks to the labour, creativity, commitment and enlightenment of its inhabitants and volunteers, it has become the cultural hub of Maastricht. The Landbouwbelang is an autonomous zone for the free expression of art, entrepreneurship and innovation. LBB’s pillars of sustainability, organic food, self-reliance and empowerment have inspired discussions and reflections throughout the sorrounding community.
I discovered this place on my first week in town, when Orlando started talking about some anarchist rave. During the years chilling and helping out here, I discovered what LBB really still stands for. It is an unconventional, organic, customized community in an evolving and experimenting environment; nonetheless within with clear rules (particularly on privacy) and dynamics, which require responsibility and respect from all the people involved to ensure collective freedom. Even before the cultural freezone was established, this land has stood for the collective contribution towards a greater good.
Twenty people currently live in the warm and cozy spaces they have built themselves from recycled materials, but the LBB is also home to ateliers and workshops from many kinds. The first floor is occupied by Reinder’s Demotech project for self-reliance and sustainable design, an experiment in the search for sustainable development . Above, there’s Bernadette’s artspace, Arjen’s tech and VJ corner, woodwork spaces and even a gym and sauna! On the tower, converted by Virginie’s, hosts Dictatorchips, a hilarious idea that merges art with extreme politics and the Dutch passion for potato-food.
The community spaces of LBB are available for many different social and cultural activities. ‘T Keldertje is a basement where concerts and jam sessions take place, usually on Thursday night; next door the Doorgeefwinkel, or Free Shop is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 13h to 16h. Volkskeuken Kometen, (a people’s kitchen run by volunteers so just come and eat) is open on Mondays and hosts a food bank on Fridays- all vegan of course! Finally, the LBB has massive halls for exhibitions, performances and parties check their website or Facebook page to help or just participate!
Het Landhuis is the freshest of the LBB spaces, as it is in continuous restauration. The once burned-down hut in the garden of LBB, has been converted after years of volunteers’ work into beautiful community space for workshops, meetings and conferences that reunites under the causes of sustainability, social engagement and cultural sharing. No one lives in the Landhuis, apart from Yurun who has built an extension tree house above the bathroom (ranked as one of the most awesome toilets in the coutry!). The people who volunteer and enjoy the space, take nothing home but good vibes, amazing vegan food and organic beer in their bellies.
The urban garden, in constant growth and splendour is finally completed by Bob’s personal caravan, entirely built by himself. Bob is one of the most peculiar and interesting LBB residents. He is only recently moved his workspace into a small room in LBB, and here are his business cards. I challenge you to figure out what his art and craft is about!