Herman Hertzberger, one of the Netherlands’ most distinguished architects, comments on the current tendencies in architecture, along with Laurens Jan ten Kate, senior partner at Architectuurstudio HH. Their well trained eyes dwell on the past and propose how today’s challenges should be seen and could be met.
“…We interpret society through architecture.”
Herman Hertzberger graduated in 1958 and then founded Architectuurstudio HH. Ever since, he has designed numerous well known and award winning buildings, mostly in the Netherlands. His professional endeavours also extend into teaching, publishing and participating in various debate forums, including Team 10.
Laurens Jan ten Kate has been onboard since 1992 and carries on the work and spirit; “We (architects) are space makers. We interpret society through architecture”.
Architectuurstudio HH, Apollo School, Amsterdam 1983
Much has changed since Herman drew structuralism in the post-war era. Not all current architectural tendencies appeal to the two gentlemen, such as the insistence of developers, society and often architects to erect monuments whenever (and wherever) possible.
As our discussion continued towards, addressing clients’ strict set of demands for new buildings, Herman quotes Aldo van Eyck, “…sometimes architecture is something you have to smuggle inside the door”.
“…sometimes architecture is something you have to smuggle inside the door.”
But the new generation of architects does also inspire and influence the steady hands of architects like Herman and Laurens. They point out Studio Anne Heringer (DE), Superuse Studios (NL) and Lacaton et Vassal (F) as examples of rather young studios, who have found their own path in architecture.
METI school, Bangladesh, Anne Heringer Studio. Photo: Kurt Hoerbst
Anne Heringer (DE)
makes projects linked to local communities in terms of both materials use and local collaboration. Buildings such as the handmade METI school in Bangladesh facilitate teaching in an informal and stimulating environment, where material and form are carefully linked. Compared to Architectuurstudio HH, she exercises a similar sensitive to how people actually inhabit and make use of spaces.
Rewind, recycled windmill wings. Photo: Allard van der Hoek
Superuse Studios (NL)
recycles just about any material imaginable and addresses sustainability in their own way. They reintroduce recycled materials into whole new functions, also known as upcycling.
The studio’s use of numerous open-source platforms to widen their thoughts on sustainability also displays a will to impact society.
Construction for Noble Ladies, by Kurt Schwitters, 1919
Instead of composing self concerned aesthetics, Herman and Laurens encourage new architects to embrace the world of architecture in the same spirit as a collage. This is the idea of putting different realities next to each other as fragments, that will create a new reality together with its own quality. Kurt Schwitters showed this in a prominent way in the 1920’s.
The city is an ever-changing mix of buildings from different eras. In the same way, most buildings themselves are likely get new inhabitants or other functions, like a bookshelf getting new books. The shelf, the structure, must be rigid, well proportioned and precise, yet able to adapt to changes through time.
Photo: Max Hart Nibbrig
Intentions alone are not enough
They stress that young architects must strive for precision in architecture, at least where the structure is concerned, that good intentions will not do alone. They must be brought into the project. If they fail to do so, intentions easily end up as nonsense or sorely big words.
“Poetry is as precise
Laurens note how architecture is the one form of art that truly has to serve someone else. To a certain extend, intentions and emotions must (and can) be carefully translated into form.
Herman quotes Gustave Flaubert, (French 19th century novelist); “Poetry is as precise as geometry.”
Studio Anna Heringer
Lacaton & Vassal