A building block, a cultural biography of the landscape and a craft. While the connection between these three elements may not be obvious at first, this unusual combination gives us the opportunity to learn a new way of looking at the world around us.

We are creating a series of portraits of the Dutch soil using a geological map of the Netherlands. The form: wind-dried compressed earth blocks. You may find the materials to make blocks like these in your back garden, or perhaps on the floodplain of a nearby river or a natural rise in the landscape. You can even make them yourself. They are not fired in a kiln but compressed and dried in the wind. They can be made using just 1% of the energy required to produce fired bricks and they are 100% circular.

As we travel across the Netherlands looking for locations with soil suitable for making these blocks, we often wonder about the stories behind the landscape. Once we have found a suitable location, each block we make is unique, thanks to the combination of the local earth, plant-based structure and local minerals.

The goal is not so much to develop a product, but rather to create awareness of the relationship between cultures, landscapes and ecological materials. The project is on-going. The final exhibition is planned for 2024. 'Delving into the Dutch earth’ is an initiative by studio STEPHAN SCHAGEN and CHRITH architects.

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Stephan Schagen

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Thomas van Nus

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Christina Eickmeier


Vereniging Natuurmonumenten (Society for the Preservation of Natural Monuments) for the soil collection locations and associated knowledge

Oskam V/F for technical knowledge about compressed earth blocks

Centre for Global Heritage and Development and Maikel Kuijpers, archaeologist at Leiden University, for cultural knowledge from archaeological treasures

The project is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

Most of the information on this website is provided in Dutch only. If you have any question, please feel free to contact us for more detailed information in English.

‘Delving into the Dutch earth’ is an initiative by studio STEPHAN SCHAGEN and CHRITH architects.

We are based in Zaandam, Netherlands.

Stephan Schagen |
+31 6 24 65 64 86

Thomas van Nus |
+31 6 42 47 93 66

Christina Eickmeier |
+31 6 81 20 49 74