House and environment

RCR-arquitectes from Olot/Spain (winner of the Pritzker-prize 2017) realized a superb house for two owners of a Michelin-star restaurant in Barcelona, with the explicit request to create a sphere that would be as withdrawn and quiet as possible. The result is a corten-steel assembly of volumes half-buried in the landscape, without ever becoming irrelevant or disturbing.


Balloon Home

A most interesting exposition in Brussels CIVA on the work of architect A.J. Lode Janssens, in particular his ‘Balloon Home’. He is “one of Belgium’s most radical architects and educators. However, for the past two decades he has been living in voluntary exile, resisting any form of public life. Throughout his career he had an ambiguous relationship with architecture, fascinated by its experimental possibilities but equally appalled by its often presumptuous nature.”

A discussion between curators Peter Swinnen and Nikolaus Hirsch illustrates the importance and actual value of this work:

101 jaar Constant

101 jaar geleden werd Constant Nieuwenhuys geboren en op diverse manieren wordt hier – zeer terecht – aandacht aan besteedt. Literair tijdschrift ‘de Gids‘ wijdt een groot deel van haar 2021/6 editie aan ‘New Babylon‘, Constant’s utopisch project waaraan hij werkte tussen grofweg 1959 en 1974. Het leverde, zoals bekend, prachtige maquettes en tekeningen op; tot hij op het eind besloot het project als ‘voltooid’ te beschouwen. Het artikel van Dirk van Weelden gaat uitgebreid in op de link met het heden en de toekomst: ‘Welk New Babylon zouden we kunnen gebruiken in een tijd waarin we vooral dreigende catastrofes het hoofd moeten bieden?“. Ook de bijdrage van Christoph van Gerrewey – een ‘autodialoog’ – biedt prachtige aanknopingspunten. Ik zou zeggen: het gehele project is in zijn denk- en verbeeldingskracht een uitermate interessante en opnieuw actuele aanzet om fundamenteel anders te denken over onze samenleving en haar gebouwde omgeving. Veel van wat Constant hier presenteert is allereerst een oproep tot een substantiële rol voor bewoners, eigen regie en een oproep tot grotere vrijheid; die was in zijn tijd actueel en is het nu eens te meer.

New Babylon

Last Thursday, September 30th.; after the “Welcome’ at Art Institute Melly and afterwards at ‘het Nieuwe Instituut‘: the fine and thoughtful lecture ‘Continous Now‘ by Prof. Mark Wigley on Constant’s New Babylon, after the  exhibition in 1998 still a most actual topic/project. What is this contemporary value; which views have continued to be in line with the developments, what elements are still worth-wile to consider and implement?




now online; my interview last week with RIVER Publishers’ Philippa Jefferies about my recently published book, also available via open-access at RIVER Publ. A brief talk about home, housing, technology and dwelling; to end with an actual part about the consequences for our housing caused by the current corona pandemic. It illustrates once more that the way we built our housing needs much more flexibility and adaptability.

the everyday

Recovered in an antiquarian bookshop: the inaugural talk ‘the Everyday’ by Prof.Ir. John Habraken back in 1967 (!) on his acceptance of the position of Professor of Architectural Design at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Amazing to read once again – in 19 pages – his envisioning of a paradigm-shift of facilitating/designing housing by means of creating a split between structure and infill. One remark for now: “The simple truth is that the everyday cannot be created for a society but only out of that society”(trans. mp, ital.orig.) I suggest we reread this publicly, widely and act likewise, after 50 years…

the Dilapidated Dwelling

Recently published on the Architecture_MPS website : an article by Patrick Keiller on housing in which he refers in particular to the situation in the UK, but nevertheless touches upon a contemporary issue: “Perhaps we are all ‘others’ when we are at home?”. Maybe the most interesting statement is that “the history of house-building suggests that the market will never be able to modernise dwelling on its own.(..) If there is to be any possibility for a more promising approach to dwelling, it is very unlikely to come from the conventional house-building industry.”.  This is a challenge not for architects only, but rightly so, for the whole building industry involved.