This is Area 51
Renovated from a dark hole to a new and improved building: welcome to Area 51, the largest Urban Sports and Culture Park in the Benelux. The skaters, BMX'ers, stunt steppers, and inline skaters ride the ramps, fences, and other obstacles together. During Dutch Design Week, the building opened. And since then, there has been a queue of enthusiasts in the afternoon. Young and old, everyone is welcome, and not just to come and stunt. A conversation with Wing Mok.
Q: What has been rebuilt in a year and a half?
Wing: We gutted the entire building. The most important thing was transparency. That is why we removed the original façade and installed windows everywhere. We also renovated the basement: now, the old Philips dressing room is ready for great parties. We already used the old crawl space for an exhibition during DDW.
Furthermore, we have a beautiful open bar, with a view on the tracks, and the entrance is visible and accessible. There's even room for a dance school, and we have rehearsal space for bands. There's too much to mention, and there's still lots to do: some finishing touches and a track for free runners and trickers.
Q: You are one of the first 'residents' of Strijp-S; what has changed since then?
Wing: You could say Ketelhuis, Klokgebouw, and Area 51 were the first pioneers of Strijp-S. When we settled here in 2006, you could hear a pin drop. The three of us provided a buzz. It's getting busier every year: take a look at the surrounding buildings.
Q: Why is this place called a Eindhoven hotspot?
Wing: The fact that this building is still standing says it all. Supposedly, it had to make room for more apartments. Considering the value of Area 51, housing corporation Trudo adjusted the design of the complex, so it could both exist: one on top of the other. Hence the name Haasje Over (leapfrog). This spot means a lot for the neighborhood and the city. Everyone is welcome: not only to practice stunts, but also to meet new people, drink coffee, dance, and enjoy a party. The funny thing is we were there before the neighborhood as we know it existed.
Q: What is your best Area 51 memory?
Wing: Throughout the years, all sorts of events have taken place, concerts, demos, competitions. But perhaps one of the most intriguing ones: the performance by punk band John Coffey, the park was their stage. I remember there were loads of people. Another cool thing was that they played the soundtrack of a video game called Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. They were literally performing on the tracks; it was so cool.
Q: What do you hope the future holds?
Wing: It's a good thing the city is listening to the youth. That there is a need for these kinds of places. It would be nice to host even more stuff from within the community. For example, people sharing their ideas for events with us or something. Because, if we can build this, what else is possible?
Take a photo
Are you curious about Area 51? The big red arrow is right in front of the door, so you can't miss it. Take a picture of yourself with the arrow at Area 51, share it on your stories, and tag @eindhovencity and @area51eindhoven. Show your post and you'll get to try the tracks out for free on a BMX bike, stunt scooter, or skateboard.
Name: Area 51
Location: Ketelhuisplein 18
Specialized in: Urban Sports & Culture
A Eindhoven hotspot since: 2002 (started in Meerhoven and moved to Strijp-S in 2006)
In conversation with: Wing Mok