natlaB-Baltan: electronic art in the former Philips Physics Laboratory


Session Title:

  • Education/Media (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • natlaB-Baltan: electronic art in the former Philips Physics Laboratory




  • This talk will depict the outline of Baltan’s new strategy and business model and will elaborate on the role of collaborations with students and academia.

    Baltan Laboratories was founded in 2008 by the city of Eindhoven with the aim to perform research on the potential for a ‘future‑proof’ Media Lab. After three years of studies and experiments, Baltan’s findings resulted in the book publication ‘Blueprint for the lab of the Future’. Now, after recently have moved into the Natlab (the former renowned Philips Physics Laboratory), Baltan is committed to transform itself in becoming this ‘Lab of the Future’. Seen by the city of Eindhoven as the key player to revive the spirit of innovation by cross‑disciplinary collaborations that resided within the Natlab walls, its new business plan builds on strategies to optimally cultivate the potential of the high‑tech and creative communities in Eindhoven en beyond. With a clear goal to become less dependent from public funding, Baltan will pro‑actively pursue partnerships with paying industrial, cultural and academic organizations. Within this new strategy, Baltan sees great potential for collaborations with students. Over the past years, it has built relationships with a variety of institutes such as University College Fontys (ICT dpt), TU Eindhoven (Industrial Design dpt) Design Academy Eindhoven and ArtScience in     Den Hague. Baltan will build upon these relationships to take them to a next level.

    As a first example, the talk will elaborate on the concept of “The Studio”; an interface between interdisciplinary student teams towards relevant external assignments on the crossroads of art, technology and free experimentation. In the academic world in The Netherlands (and beyond), it is hardly impossible to structurally engage into projects and    collaborations that span across departments (such as art, design, engineering, social sciences, economics…) or even across organizations. Baltan Laboratories makes use of this ‘gap’ and recruits multidisciplinary student teams to work on internal and external assignments. This way, the students get a first (semi‑)professional experience, build an initial network and get a real insight in how people from other backgrounds approach similar topics in a totally different way. The talk will give some examples of projects, explain more about the business model behind it and highlight the benefits for all people and organizations involved.

    Secondly, the Open Labs concept will be explained and illustrated. Open Labs is an active community of creative individuals (professionals and students) that interact in a revolving way according to the following principle: get acquainted ‑ form groups ‑ work on projects. Baltan Laboratories facilitates this community by providing them with a framework and location to work in and by creating incentives to promote the quality and quantity of the interactions. The entire idea of Open Labs originated from a pilot project in 2013 with TU Eindhoven whereby the key objective was to link students to professionals.

    Since 2014, the initiative has successfully been scaled up and opened up for the entire (local) community.