At the intersection of roads between Margraten (NL-De Plank (B) and Noorbeek-Slenaken is a national monument of great historical value in the municipality of Eijsden-Margraten (NL): the former monastery complex Hoogcruts. After a devastating fire on September 6, 1979, it was a ruin for years. Stichting het Limburgs Landschap (The Limburg Landscape Foundation) bought the ruin in July 2011 and started with the clearing of rubble and repairs, consolidation, restoration and renovation.
Reason for purchase: the former Hoogcruts monastery complex tells the history of pilgrimage and religious experience in Europe. The consequences of political developments and various wars are also recognizable. Due to its age, the complex is a three-dimensional architectural history archive and therefore scientifically important. The atmosphere and aesthetic value are recognizable to all visitors. It was and is a special place, a place with a load. The national monument has a value that should not be lost.
From initiative to totalconcept
HX hoogcruts is an initiative of artist Jonathan Wanders. He grew up in the village of Noorbeek and therefore also with the former monastery complex situated in the neigborhood of Hoogcruts on the border of Noorbeek with Slenaken, near the Belgian border. The ruin has always appealed to the imagination and was a place where you were not allowed to play, but secretly did. In that place you experienced adventures and the imagination took over. That fascination for this special place has always remained. That is why Jonathan approached Stichting het Limburgs Landschap (The Limburg Landscape Foundation) in mid-2017 with a basic concept. Although largely restored and consolidated, there was not yet a destination for this special complex.
At the end of 2017, Stichting het Limburgs Landschap commissioned Jonathan Wanders to further develop his basic concept for the former Hoogcruts monastery complex. For this special, but also complex assignment, Jonathan collaborated with Jeroen Seeverens (Xentropics) and Nicole Cloudt (Concept Cloudt).
Under the direction of Jonathan Wanders, they developed, built and realized the totalconcept of HX hoogcruts in various phases. This concerned the following activities: drafting a concept document with a historical and contextual research as a basis, corporate identity (such as name, logo, color palette), concept design for building and interior, prospectus (a recruiting document with intent and objectives), core values, themes for programming, a basic programming etc. After approval of the totalconcept, a pilot phase was started. During the 2-year pilot phase, the team developed and realized a number of activities (such as guided tours, exhibitions, small events, etc.), built the organization, fulfilled the roles of quartermaster and programmer, made connections with various people, organizations and institutions (including museums, funds) and set up the HX hoogcruts foundation, in which they formed the board until mid-2020, with Jonathan Wanders as chairman.
As of summer 2019, this three-person team was expanded with a new quartermaster and programmer, respectively Carola Janssen and Tjeu Seeverens. From July 2020 a new board took place, the first HX users (tenants) arrived and HX hoogcruts actually started after the short pilot phase.
Transformation: from Hoog Kruis (High Cross) to HX hoogcruts
HX is derived from the original name Hoog Kruis (High Cross), which originated from the legend of the cross finding. A chapel was built on that spot, centuries ago, which developed into the monastery of Hoog-Cruts (H.C.). The cross represents the past, religion and monastic function. The X stands for the future, crossovers, the unexpected, cross-pollination, reflection, connection, daring to excite, innovation, meeting place, experiment, stubbornness, to wonder people and to make you think.
HX hoogcruts: the monastery of the 21st century
HX hoogcruts has the ambition to become the monastery of the 21st century. With respect for the past, the old functions of this monastery are filled in a contemporary way. With the dot on the horizon that HX hoogcruts will become a new Euregional center for reflection on today's society and the search for the society of the future.
A process, step by step. A place for reflection, connection and innovation. With exhibitions, documentaries, lectures, research, outdoor activities, performances, theater, music and makers' meetings, HX focuses in and around the complex on exploring various themes within (contemporary) developments in art, culture, nature and technology. HX wants to bring these developments to the attention of a wide audience. Due to its central Euregional location and its history, HX is pre-eminently a place where special and new cooperation across borders can lead to innovation and to observe, display and evoke the above-ground vibrations within those four themes. HX hoogcruts thus becomes a continuously evolving and learning platform and, above all, a meeting place. A dynamic window on the world. HX hoogcruts revolves around the experience of new stories, emerging from the known and unknown, the local and the global. In short, an inspiring place, where a varied, high-quality range and the changes in the seasons determine the rhythm.
From pilot phase to start HX
In July 2020, Jonathan's activities as quartermaster and chairman ended. However, he will remain involved in the background. HX hoogcruts has been a personal project not only in view of his relationship with the village Noorbeek and the surrounding area, but also because he has been able to incorporate many of his ideas, ambitions and views. The importance of art and culture has taken shape physically thanks to HX. It is not just a totalconcept, but above all a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk. HX wants to ‘make a different sound’ and add something new to the region. It has the potential to grow in importance to the (eu) region and to be of added value.
The former monastery complex is a special place, where people meet through a unique concept, where connections arise between the past, now and in the future. A place that inspires and wonders people, where people leave with more energy than when they arrive.
The historical research (in Dutch) of the (former) monastery complex Hoogcruts regarding the concept development of HX hoogcruts can be viewed here. Texts may be reproduced, but only with source reference and permission of Jonathan Wanders.
- Outdoor lesson // article VIAlimburg (NL) // 14 November 2018
- Monastic ruin Hoogcruts // Nomination Most inspiring monument in Limburg // article De Limburger (NL) // 15 September 2018
- We really want to add something to the region // article Van Harte Eijsden-Margraten (NL) // Autumn 2018
- Open window to the world // article De Limburger, Heuvelland edition (NL) // 12 July 2018
- Entrepreneurs breathe new life into Hoogcruts // article De Limburger, Maastricht edition (NL) // 12 July 2018
Title: HX hoogcruts
Location: Hoogcruts 47, 6255 NS Noorbeek, municipality of Eijsden-Margraten (NL). Publicly accessible from mid-2020
Process: August 2017 to June 2020 (incl. concept development)
Quartermaster HX hoogcruts: March 2018 to October 2019
Chairman of the foundation HX hoogcruts: August 2018 to June 2020
Pilot phase: June 2018 to June 2020
To experience: From summer 2020
Dimensions: The complex is approximately 1 hectare and consists of: the manor house (former Canon's house) with Boosten wing from the early 20th century, the open-air church (former church, without roof), the well house, the garage boxes, the monastery garden with gloriette and the courtyard
Client: Stichting het Limburgs Landschap (The Limburg Landscape Foundation)
Photos and images: Jonathan Wanders, HX hoogcruts, Heuvelland Biennale, Coen van der Gugten, Kallen family, Wanderlöss, Ralph Sluysmans, beeldbank.cultureelerfgoed.nl, Eef Bosch, Flickr, Stefan Cools, Leonne Hodiamont, George Den Teuling, Heerlen fire brigade, www.kbr.be/nl/kaart-van-ferraris
© Jonathan Wanders