December 4, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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A look inside Nienke prison in Wolvenplein: ‘This really is my happy place’

The painter Ninky Flitter (40) had an office in the former Wolfenplein Prison for two and a half years. First in a dungeon, and since September 2021 it has been upgraded to a larger space. Curious how does that look? Read quickly.

The first year and a half Nienke worked as a store Cameraman Only at home, until I felt the need for something else. “I noticed then I was walking from the office to the kitchen and that was my exercise. Not long after I saw on Facebook that there were still places available in the prison.” The woman of Utrecht did not have to think long about the place. “This is of course very cool in such a historic building. I emailed right away and they still already had offices available in the old cells. After a week, I actually managed to paint. The cell always looks very dark and elusive, but it was a very interesting and bright place.” †

Ninke is still very happy with the option to work outside the home. “You go out for a while and now work and private life are separated. It’s also very nice to meet other entrepreneurs in the lobby. We also invite each other.” Friendships also developed between office tenants. “You go for a nice walk outside with someone or have lunch together. Every day I am happy to go here. This is really my happy place.”

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bigger place

Previously, the prison was run by the national government and was also widely used for television recordings, events and escape rooms. In the summer of 2021 the former prison was sold. “After that it looked like we all had to get out, but de Stadstein took over the management and we were able to stay put.” For Nienke, it was also the time to move into a larger office. “Meanwhile I had collected quite a few materials and the cell was ten square metres. Then this space became available. I saw three windows that could open and look out onto the canal and after that I was sold.” Through the lottery, the painter became the new lucky “owner” of the beautiful, light and double-sized space.

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Nienke’s new office. Photo: Nienke Vletter

Nienke now has a very light desk, which is very nice for an artist. But how did you do that in previous years? “Fortunately, the cells also had a very large window. Unfortunately, that window could not be opened. My cell was painted white and light gray at the time, and everything that looked like a dungeon had been removed, except for the toilet. So the workplace was actually very light The previous office had a built-in closet and Nienke had space for her L-shaped desk.” It was bigger than you might imagine. But now I have more space for all my money and a nice sofa.”

directors’ residences

The new office is located in the part of the building that was used as the director’s residence. Later these spaces were converted into offices. I didn’t have to renew or paint anything. There was still a rug here, but the previous owner installed a baseboard over it and I find it really useful. If you spill paint, that’s okay. According to Nienke, it’s a bit noisier here, compared to her old dungeon office. “You can hear cars driving by or if someone is on the phone in the hallway. I found the cells much quieter. Of course you have very thick doors there. If there was a movie being taped downstairs, you wouldn’t hear much about it.”

favorite place

With a space as large and bright as an office, you might think it would be hard to point out a favorite spot, but a creative influencer doesn’t have to think twice about it. “Two basic things. One is my bench. It has been on my wish list for a long time. From here I can view the entire studio and have a beautiful look outside.” Another favorite place is the desk by the window. “I have two offices. One is for my computer work and the other is for drawing and teaching workshops online. From here I can also enjoy a great view of the channel.”

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Additionally, Nienke has made her own valuables office. There’s an adorable blue typewriter she got from her brother, vases from her grandmother and two IKEA trolleys full of drawing and coloring supplies. “I wanted it when I started drawing.” In addition, there are many precious family legacies in the room, such as her grandfather’s drawing and her father’s recorder.

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exciting stories

When we ask Ninki for tales about the prison building, she knows very little. “Sometimes you pick something up with the guided tours that take place here,” she says. “It seems that Hermann Proud has been in prison here and there are many escapes. The people who lived on the canal saw someone climbing up the wall.” Despite the fact that the building has a long history, with no such comfortable touch, Ninke was never afraid when she walked alone in the prison in the evenings. “There are also students who live here, and fortunately, there is always someone in the building.”


“Sitting” in prison elicits enough puns, e.g. Nienke and her colleagues, when you call other office tenants, go together to “breathe” and ask the visitor to turn up if they “can still go out later.” “My father-in-law also finds it funny that he tells his friends that his daughter-in-law is in prison.”

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big renovation

Despite the fact that Nienke and other freelancers have been able to rent offices for some time, it appears that tenants will still have to leave at the end of 2023. A major renovation of the former prison is scheduled. “Hopefully it will take a little longer to apply for the permits, so we can stay a little longer,” she laughs. “It’s always great to be in such a famous building and at the same time have your own space that you don’t have to share. You can also walk into town from here for a coffee. This location is perfect.”

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Want to see more of Nienke’s workplace or illustrations? then lose it Instagram or website

Can we take a look inside your house?

Do you also live in a special place in Utrecht, a house with a story or are you very happy with your home? Or do you know someone who is a good fit for this department? Let us know at [email protected]We are glad to have you visit.

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