“I see beauty
in decline and decay
and a clear path to
Thanks to her vision and perseverance, she has been able to achieve more than she could ever have dreamed of.
Sandra sees opportunities in the most challenging situations of vacancy and decline. She is able to outline the possibilities, enthuse people and build the partnerships needed to revitalize areas. From hopeless to hotspot. In this way she continuously increases her creative capacity and impact.
She strives for an ideal transformation project, both for herself and for her clients: a project that functions as a growing social development company.
In which you are meaningful to others and that is also good for you.
As an Urban Transformation business coach, she is happy to advise and assist you.
She calls it business coaching, because in urban transformation you always have to look for a new business model for the future.
The original function of the area has been lost or has eroded. You have to look for new meaning and new energy.
This requires an integrated approach and a clear vision. With efforts in several areas: identity – community – collaboration – economic – social – physical – sustainable.
With a focus on vision development and placemaking, that goes hand in hand.
So much broader than spatial planning, while in the professional world it often seems to be about this. We are doing ourselves a huge disservice by doing this. An integrated approach may seem elusive and yes, it involves a lot of multidisciplinary collaboration.
But the broad scope of the entire business model of a place actually yields a lot. Solutions, collaborations, finances, support, pride. This is the way to actually bring an area from disadvantage to lead. With a positive growth effect that can be felt in the city and region.
“My personal drive is to make people, companies and places grow and thrive. To let it glow, hence my company name. I always find it a fantastic challenge to take something or someone from behind to lead, no matter how difficult.
Unfortunately, I have had to do that in my personal life as well. In 2009 I had a serious accident in which a tree fell on my head. At the time, I was told that I would be disabled for life due to acquired brain injury (NAH). But luckily, I managed to work my way up from a greenhouse plant to a hard-working mother.
After this blow, I focused on my work with renewed energy and motivation and lifted seemingly hopeless cases like Mariënhage off the ground and started my own company Glowingplaces.
By now I have accepted NAH as a part of me and am adapting my life to my physical condition. Of course, I sometimes pass myself by, who doesn’t? But I’ve made the switch to doing what my body needs to get back into balance. As a result, I feel more than ever at the helm of my own life and I feel vital.”
“This fantastic life experience has left me feeling well equipped to tackle big, complex cases with confidence. To dare to tackle the real causes, to be open to ideas and people and to make solid choices. Also, I feel free to add lightness and creativity to the process 😉”
Characteristics of Sandra’s method:
Dive deep into a subject
Trained rethink muscle
And think ahead and act
Making connections & building community
Sandra has contributed to the development of Eindhoven Transformation City as an urban planner and project manager for 20 years.
A city that has reinvented itself, after the economic crisis and devastating redundancies at Philips and DAF in the 1990s. It has now developed into an unstoppable energy ball of innovation, creativity and collaboration. And thus makes a huge contribution to e.g. Netherlands.
Sandra is one of the many who got their feet in the mud and worked hard, very hard to bring about this amazing transformation.
The flywheel is set in motion and the effect is inspiring!
She is grateful for the trust and opportunities she has received from the municipality of Eindhoven to contribute to this.
A number of striking examples of area developments that Sandra initiated and brought to fruition as a ‘start-up’ are listed below.
Sandra started Strijp S as a student in 1998. Everyone around her saw the emptying of this industrial area of Philips as a huge problem, but she thought otherwise.
By the time Sandra graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at Eindhoven University of Technology, she had opened the eyes of the most important parties to the opportunities of this 37-hectare ‘forbidden city’ with more than 150,000 m2 of national monuments and many other buildings. And made them so enthusiastic that the project immediately took root.
For example, after her study as a ‘broekie’, Sandra was able to immediately start working as an urban planner at Strijp S, which she brought up to and including VO urban development plan together with a large and multidisciplinary team from various organizations.
In practice, an important part of her role was to outline economic and socio-cultural potential and to defend cultural-historical values: (national monument) buildings, pipeline system, names, structures.
She hadn’t expected to have to talk her tongue out like that. Well, it is something that many people with a heart for cultural history struggle with, she also noticed in her work as a permanent advisor to the Eindhoven Monuments Committee.
Fortunately, the people of Eindhoven have now embraced the area with all its character and many buildings and main streets have been preserved and beautifully transformed into unique, meaningful places.
And Strijp S has grown into a hugely important cultural and economic pillar of Eindhoven and an international area development that appeals to the imagination.
Incredibly beautiful to see how the community at Strijp S has developed during 20 years of redevelopment. From a ‘population’ of purely Philips people to an international community of entrepreneurs, residents, designers, youth and institutions. With 1001 cross connections and a nice, urban look & feel. Sandra still loves coming here!
In 2001 the Eindhoven station area was added. A mega job this 45 hectare no man’s land without quality of stay. Centrally located there is the very outdated and much too small, nationally listed station.
Sandra created the spatial vision ‘Connecting and staying’ (2007) for all the owners involved, which still guides the developments in the area to this day.
She also worked for 8 years on the renewal plans for Central Station. After years of arguing, designing and negotiating, Sandra and her colleagues came up with the substantial investment of millions for expansion and renovation of the station.
The renovated Eindhoven Central Station has since been completed in 2018, with a sea of space thanks to the expansion under the tracks, which she always aimed for!
The Student hotel is also the first new building from the spatial vision and a tender for the tourist information center and Stationsplein has been submitted. Where promising plans have emerged under the name District-E, with prominently in the ‘Lichttoren axis’ from Station to Lichttoren from the spatial vision.
At the moment, work is being done with new impetus on the area development on the north side of the track under the name ‘Eindhoven XL’, with an even larger and more dynamic area development than previously anticipated. In keeping with the enormous development of Eindhoven. The central government and the provincial authorities have now joined as cooperation partners.
In 2011, Sandra took care of Mariënhage, a hidden gem of religious heritage in the center of Eindhoven. The Augustinian Fathers saw their numbers dwindle and could no longer take care of the Paterskerk and had to close it. The old Augustinianum next door (once founded by the fathers) was owned by the municipality and had no sustainable use. The monastery would eventually also become empty. All buildings were national monuments with a great need for restoration.
In the middle of a crisis, Sandra was asked to help the fathers and to realize an area development. As a project manager and planner of the municipality of Eindhoven, she gladly accepted this challenge.
Used to taking places from big behind to lead, Sandra got to work. Mapping out all the preconditions and daring to focus on exploring opportunities. Having good conversations with each other and understanding each other’s points of view, gradually creating a strong team across the walls of organizations. Building a community of interested parties. Dare to take firm steps.
The cooperation with the Augustinians developed particularly well and they joined forces.
Together they dared to go for redevelopment in line with the centuries-old history: ‘Heart and soul’ and a focus on end users.
Augustijnen and the municipality of Eindhoven wrote a market consultation and although it was a crisis, no fewer than 29 parties responded. Precisely because of the clear focus. The ideal buyer was found in the DELA cooperative. Who wanted to continue the story of the Augustinians with the first Ceremony House in the Netherlands, a conference hotel and an accessible courtyard.
But the redevelopment proved financially unfeasible. Together (DELA, Augustijnen, municipality) and with a lot of personal effort because we wanted it all to succeed, we managed to get it done after all.
By building a partnership with the Province of Noord-Brabant and the National Restoration Fund and devising new financial methods that make it all feasible.
The large-scale renovation is ready and DOMUSDELA opened its doors on November 8, 2019!
Read interview with Sandra by the Cultural Heritage Agency
In 2014, VDMA was added on the edge of the Eindhoven city center, or the Van Der Meulen Ansems site as it was called at the time. After years of breaking HER tongue about it, Sandra has christened it VDMA. It’s great that this has now been taken up in the public mind.
A parking lot with ‘heritage without status’: a sister flat, a match factory and a former Ford Garage that had been empty for 17 years. With, as it turned out after a while, a strong managerial ambition to initiate an economic engine for start-ups in combination with housing.
Learning from Strijp S, that during the crisis had made a fantastic development by exploiting temporality, they did not opt for blueprint planning.
But for simultaneously working on sustainable area development and experimenting in the temporary.
Sandra and her team managed to invest in the old Garage. As a result, this characteristic, 2200m2 building from 1927 is no longer collapsing, but can be used.
The renovation was completed at the end of summer 2016 and during the first 9 months, in addition to project management for the total area development, Sandra was responsible for the placemaking of this building with substantive events.
She was the host and co-organizer for 35 events. There were major events with thousands of visitors and a lot of exposure in the media. GLOW, Maker Faire, Dutch Design Week, Google ‘Digital Workshop’ event, I’m not a tourist Expat Fair, Feelgood Market and more.
It contributed greatly to the fame of this forgotten place.
A fantastic and instructive experience, but because it was successful so quickly and the permit situation had not yet been properly arranged, it demanded a lot from her health.
The tender for the area development of VDMA has now been launched and many, many special events, trade fairs and meetings have taken place in the Garage.
Increasingly, area developers and re-purposers asked Sandra: “How do you manage to make the transformation projects to which you contribute so successful and inspiring”?
Sandra noticed how much she enjoys sharing her experiences with like-minded people. Especially because she knows that transformation projects are far from simple. There is so much that goes into it.
That is how Glowingplaces was born.
Sandra now loves nothing more than to help enterprising organizations break through with their transformation project from her company Glowingplaces. It doesn’t matter whether they are a government or market parties. It’s about the spirit.
Glowingplaces worked for BOEi and the Province of Noord-Brabant, for example, on the development of the Dongecentrale in Geertruidenberg.
Glowingplaces also advised ErfgoedLab Brabant on the start-up of this foundation, which aims to help the lone initiator for the repurposing of heritage to achieve actual development.
Since 2018, Glowingplaces has been associated with the Urban Transformation Program on behalf of the Province of Noord-Brabant, which assists municipalities in Brabant with complex urban transformation tasks. Sandra has been hired as a strategic advisor and supports the Province and a large number of municipalities in Brabant with advice, in collaboration with colleagues from the Province.
“How wonderful it is that I help so energetic, enterprising people to have an impact and we can make the world a better place together!”
Do you feel there is more in than coming out? Glowingplaces is happy to help you build a powerful transformation project that is meaningful for the wider environment and many people and that is completely in line with what you can offer.
Are you curious about what Glowingplaces can do for you? Let’s meet and we’ll talk about it together.