Interviews
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Affordable Cities

Interview with Charles Correa

As a pioneer of low-cost housing and a former chairman of the National Commission on Urbanisation, Charles Correa has throughout his long career stressed the crucial relationship between affordable housing, public transport and job location. In the early 1960s, Correa, along with two other colleagues, actively championed this idea and proposed a radical restructuring of Mumbai (then known as Bombay) to deal with the city’s growing informal settlements. Their vision, now known as Navi Mumbai (New Bombay), was designed to accommodate 2 million people by developing land across the harbour that would change the pattern of growth in the city from a monocentric north-south one to a polycentric urban system around the bay. While Navi Mumbai remains one of the key large-scale urban planning projects of the last century, it is also the location for another important experiment of a smaller scale: Correa’s famous Belapur incremental housing project of 1983 . . .

 

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“That money doesn’t even leave China”

Interview with Daan Roggeveen & Michiel Hulshof (Go West)

In Africa, rapid urbanization and explosive economic growth have led to major building activity in almost all areas: infrastructure, government buildings, housing and so on. Arrestingly, the contribution of Chinese companies is very large. It isn’t uncommon for entire cities to be thrown up by Chinese construction companies and a largely Chinese workforce. How is China changing the face of Africa? DASH discussed this with Daan Roggeveen and Michiel Hulshof, who jointly form research collective Go West. In 2011, they published a book about the explosive growth of Chinese megacities, punctuated by photographs and anecdotes and called How the City Moved to Mr Sun. Their current journalistic research is about the impact of China on African urbanization . . .

 

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The Grand Housing Programme

Interview with Tsedale Mamo

In 2004, the Integrated Housing Development Programme (IHDP) was introduced in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to reduce the overwhelming housing backlog estimated at about 300,000 housing units and to replace 50 per cent of the dilapidated housing stock. The programme, also known as the ‘Grand Housing Programme’ (GHP), was initiated by the then mayor Arkebe Oqubay and had the ambitious goal of building 50,000 housing units per year. DASH interviewed Tsedale Mamo, the most important figure during the execution of the project in the early days. Mrs Tsedale1 is an Ethiopian Architect educated at Addis Ababa University and the University of Technology in Helsinki, Finland, who was the manager of the GHP from 2005 until 2010. She was responsible for overseeing both the design work in the IHDP offices and the implementations on site . . .

 

Interviews
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‘Living and Things’

Interview with Louise Schouwenberg, Design Academy Eindhoven / Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam

The Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE), which evolved from its forerunner the Akademie Industriële Vormgeving Eindhoven, has played an important role in design education in the Netherlands since the Second World War. The academy has been considered one of the most important design schools in the world since the 1990s and, as a result, attracts an increasing number of foreign students, particularly for the Master’s courses. After the departure of Gijs Bakker, the founder of the DAE Master’s programme, Jan Boelen, Joost Grootens and Louise Schouwenberg took over responsibility. Since 2010, Schouwenberg has headed the department of Contextual Design, which focuses on product design in a broad sense. Schouwenberg successively studied psychology, sculpture and philosophy and is the author of many publications, including a monograph about artist Robert Zandvliet (2012) and two on designer Hella Jongerius (2004 and 2010). In addition, she curated several exhibitions for, among others, Galerie Fons Welters in Amsterdam, the TextielMuseum Tilburg and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam…

[This interview took place on 26 August 2014 in Amsterdam. Parts of the interview are taken from the text ‘De Dingen’ (The Things). Louise Schouwenberg wrote that text, which appeared in a limited edition in 2006, for Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht.]

Interviews
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‘On to the Generic Assignment’

Double Interview with Niek Verdonk and Marlies Rohmer

A number of cities in the Netherlands are struggling with a shortage of housing for students. As a result, student housing is one of the few residential building assignments still being taken on in the present economic climate. This is also the case with Groningen, where in 2010 an ambitious programme was started for the development of 4,500 student units by the year 2015. Called bouwjong!, the programme has been underway for some years now and it offers insight into the possibilities and impossibilities of carrying out such an assignment at the present juncture. In a compilation of two separate interviews, one with Groningen City Architect Niek Verdonk, initiator of bouwjong!, and one with architect Marlies Rohmer, who is both a curator and an inspirational guide for the project, Verdonk and Rohmer shed light on the strong points of the assignment, the importance of young people’s housing for the city and the effect that the present crisis has on the issue of housing for young people…1

Notes:

  • In 2010, on commission from the Department of City Planning and Economic Affairs (dienst RO/EZ) of the City of Groningen, Marlies Rohmer and the Chair of Architecture and Dwelling at the Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, made an inspirational book within the framework of bouwjong! for architects, clients and initiators. After the manifestation was over, the contents of this book and the results of bouwjong! Were combined in the publication bouwjong! woningbouw voor jongeren (bouwjong! Housing for Young People), René Asschert, Erik Dorsman, Dick van Gameren, Paul Kuitenbrouwer, Marlies Rohmer, Peter Michiel Schaap and Niek Verdonk (Groningen: Platform G.R.A.S., 2012)
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‘A Campus is: a Place Where Everything You Need is at Hand’

Interview with André Snippe, Developer of Campus Diemen Zuid

Before 2011, anyone walking from the Diemen-Zuid station into the Bergwijkpark district, just outside the ring road in the south-eastern section of the greater metropolis area of Amsterdam, could clearly see the impact of the economic crisis: office buildings no older than 10 to 40 years that were over 45 per cent vacant, drearily surrounded by barriers and empty parking lots. In September 2013, Campus Diemen Zuid opened here, a student campus in American fashion with 936 apartments and facilities of its own, the success of which is already having a positive influence on the rest of the district.

Its initiator is André Snippe, whose office is a stone’s throw away. As we speak, some 500 students are already living here on campus and new facilities are being completed every week…

Interviews

I think of the 1:1 Project as a Discursive Tool…

Interview with Barry Bergdoll

The Museum of Modern Art in New York, established in 1929, played an important role in the propagation of modern architecture. The Department of Architecture and Design was founded in 1932 as the first museum department in the world dedicated to the intersection of architecture and design. Philip Johnson, the department’s first head, directed, with Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the Museum’s 1932 ‘Modern Architecture –International Exhibition’ and they wrote the famous accompanying book The International Style. Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA since January 2007, and a professor of art history at Columbia since 1985, discusses with DASH his efforts to expand MoMA’s role to support experimentation and advocacy in architecture and design.1

In 2008 he curated the exhibition ‘Home Delivery’, which examined factory-produced houses from 1833 to today. In addition to a gallery with traditional architectural display tools, Bergdoll took advantage of a vacant lot next to the museum where five full-scale houses were shown. With these full-scale exhibition houses Bergdoll renewed an old tradition, since, in 1949, 1950 and 1954, MoMA had already sponsored and hosted mock-ups of houses that reflected seminal ideas in the history of architecture in the garden of the museum…

Notes:

  1. Shortly after the interview Barry Bergdoll announced that he has decided to step down from his post as Philip Johnson Chief Curator in September 2013 to assume the Meyer Schapiro Chair at Columbia University’s School of Art and Sciences.
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IBA BERLIN 2020

Interview with Vanessa Miriam Carlow

‘If it’s about architectural splendour, Berlin is eager to dream of faded glory,’ Berlin newspaper Tagespiegel recently stated as the opening of an article announcing the demolition of the Lützowplatz building, a housing complex designed by wellknown architect Matthias Oswald Ungers.1 This project was one of the tangible results of the 1987 Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA). This residential complex was demolished in early 2013; at the same time there were plans to break down the Kreuzberg tower, architect John Hejduk’s contribution to the 1987 IBA. The Kreuzberg tower – a rare example of Hejduk’s built work – was fortunately saved at the last minute and is now even protected by the government and being restored by its new owners. In the meantime plans were being made for a new Bauausstellung: IBA Berlin 2020. The objectives of this IBA were to realize ‘dreams from past ruins’ for the city, represented, for instance, by the rebuilding of the former city castle (now known as the Humboldtforum), but also to proudly present the city’s contemporary responses to current questions concerning housing and public space. Unfortunately, the preparation of this new IBA came to an early end in the fall of 2013. As the official website states: the Senate didn’t reserve room in the 2014/2015 budget to continue the preparation. Nevertheless, ‘even without the format of an International Building Exhibition these issues will remain on the agenda’.2 In the spring of 2013 I interviewed Vanessa Miriam Carlow, head of the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism (ISU) at the Technical University in Brunswick (Germany) and co-owner, with Dan Stubbergaard, of the architecture firm COBE, based in Copenhagen and Berlin. Carlow was a member of the ‘prae-IBA-team’,3 the team preparing IBA Berlin 2020. In the interview she reflected on the ideas that would continue to be of crucial importance to the city after the IBA. At the time the situation seemed promising: the IBA had been embraced by distinct political parties during the local election campaign in 2011, and valued afterwards by the ‘grand coalition’ of SPD and CDU that govern the city today. Now that it’s been cancelled, the question remains what value even just the initiative to prepare such an event may have offered the city. This interview therefore investigates both the approach to the IBA Berlin 2020, as well as its – regrettably untimely – aftermath…

Notes:

  1. Christian Schöder, ‘Stad ohne Mas’
  2. See: www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de
Interviews
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Relaxed Private Commissioning

Interview with Frank van Beek and Frank Veen, Lingotto

Until a few years ago, it was common practice in the Netherlands for developers to deliver generic products and give most of their attention to production. Of course, there was also a market that accepted this. It made little difference what was produced, for everything sold. Although architects had been expressing an interest in increasing residents’ input in the design of housing with a certain degree of regularity ever since the 1970s, there was little enthusiasm among developers. Helped by the crisis, but also as the consequence of a process of increasing consumer articulation that had begun prior to that, the end-user’s position has grown stronger. In the past years, developers have also shown an increased interest in taking the end-users’ wishes as the starting point, instead of as finishing touches to the work.

Lingotto is an example of a developer that has explored new possibilities in various projects over the last ten years. Since its beginnings in 2000, Lingotto has realized diverse housing projects, primarily new-build. As of five years ago, the company began focusing more expressly on converting school buildings and offices into residential buildings. Because of the crisis, this is increasingly coming into vogue, and it is becoming more and more important to develop distinctive concepts in this regard. The input of the end-user is essential here…

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‘A Generation is Growing up That Can’t Even Share a Single Facility’

Interview with Hein de Haan, CASA

Since the 1980s, architect Hein de Haan (b. 1943) has been involved in countless housing projects based on collective private commissioning, or CPC. ‘People often ask me how to go about it, and I hand them all sorts of information.’ De Haan is a missionary for CPC. Working out of CASA (Coöperatief Architectenbureau voor de Stadsvernieuwing in Amsterdam), a cooperative architecture firm specialized in urban development, he earned national recognition with Het Kameel (1984-1986), a new building complex comprised of 28 residential/work units in Vlaardingen realized within the sphere of the housing act. ‘This is one of the most true-to-form CPC projects because the initiative came entirely from the future residents. They didn’t start looking for a housing corporation until it was being put out to tender. The corporation was not amused at being called in at such a late stage,’ smiles De Haan.

Visiting the Vrijburcht, his most recent CPC project in Amsterdam’s IJburg district, where he also lives and works himself, we spoke with the doyen of collective building in the Netherlands about collective commissioning, Dutch regulations and current limitations…

Interviews
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Luxury Architecture: Simplicity and Wealth

Interview with Jean-Philippe Vassal, partner Lacaton & Vassal

It’s fair to say the architecture of the French architect duo Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal is striking. Striking not because it relies on grand gestures, but in fact striking in its simplicity. Their approach to form and material is equally remarkable. In the work of Lacaton & Vassal, form and material are not allusions to deeper meanings, but the result of a clear balancing of cost against performance. A superficial interpretation would be that the architecture of Lacaton & Vassal is cheap architecture. In reality the architects are after the opposite. They argue their goal is an architecture with extra possibilities for use – extra potential, as they phrase it. But what constitutes this ‘extra’ in this seemingly so simple architecture…?

 

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‘I Think It Is Finished Now . . .’

Steve Baer on Building his Zomehouse

We started building our Zome in 1971 and had it up in 1972. Holly and our children, Audrey and José, and I lived on the site in a school bus during construction. I think it is finished now – 40 years later it certainly looks better and feels warmer than before.

Our Zome is a cluster of eleven exploded rhombic dodecahedra. The rhombic dodecahedron is the shape of the garnet crystal and the cell of a beehive. It has, instead of the cubes’ three zones, four zones and its floor plan is a tiling of hexagons instead of rectangles. Hexagons have three zones, forming in pairs six-sided figures. The zones are different lengths making different size rooms. The fourth zone is vertical, forming the walls. The rhombic dodecahedra are exploded to round them; we softened them by adding facets. They are intended to resemble fused soap bubbles which also meet with 120° angles. All matters of this geometry are covered in the Dome Cook Book that I published in 1968…