“Accomplishing a stylish building is like playing in an orchestra.”
An architect is a designer and adviser, boxer and facilitator. This is a crucial role in the arena of the built environment. ‘Sometimes you need to be very stubborn,’ says Egide Meertens, ‘but if you also show a little flexibility, you get more done. Other people's visions and practical obstacles are the mainstays that are necessary to build on.’
Egide Meertens is a thoroughly professional craftsman, but not the pretentious type so often encountered in this profession. He’s more of a pragmatist. ‘Accomplishing a stylish building is like playing in an orchestra. It doesn’t matter with how much virtuosity I play my ‘instrument’, if I don't harmonise with the others, the symphony will never be beautiful. I’m one of the players in a building project. I have the courage to fight for my ideas, but ultimately it is the interaction between the players that determines the quality.
As a co-creator of the built environment, Meertens feels a responsibility: ‘Our way of life is changing, land is becoming scarcer, and construction has become more expensive. I think we should not allow any further fragmentation of the landscape. We will need to condense and strengthen residential areas, without sacrificing liveability. This is a huge challenge for the sector, especially as the essence of liveability is perception.
How can we fulfil this perception if we start building more compact structures? For me, the key words are: location, user, individuality, regional materials. My designs and buildings must always communicate their affinity with the location. This guarantees liveability and perception. The ultimate reward for my work is when a user or resident says: this is where I feel at home, this is where I'm happy.’
Meertens is continuously aware of his role in the building process: 'Urban planners map out the guidelines. In my opinion, if one of the guidelines is not right, and I can substantiate my reasoning, I can usually get other people to see my point of view. It's often quite a battle, but then that makes the project a lot stronger. I don’t want carte blanche.’
The trick is to make buildings which can, so to speak, move with the spirit of the times. How can we create a building that fits in with the context of a perception, that meets the demands of its time, and also offers future flexibility? ‘You must always offer the option of adding your own interpretation to a building. An architect provides the framework: for example pedestrian routes, sight lines, and use of materials sympathetic to the environment. Users can then add their own identity. That is the best guarantee that it will stand the test of time.
Despite the importance of cooperation and interaction to improve the quality of a project, the personality of the architect and his ideas strongly affect its execution, to say the least. Keeping that personality sharp is, according to Meertens, a matter of being critical at work and participating constructively in the group process that is building: ‘I am immersed in architecture every single day. I store everything, consciously or unconsciously. Look, listen, absorb. Every production process has limitations, but by communicating, by connecting visions, by collaborating, these can be eliminated.’
Joost Callens is CEO of Durabrik. In the tough world of builders and contractors, he focuses on personal development and group dynamics rather than on figures. ‘For me, construction starts with people’.Read more trending_flat
People are moving in mass to the city. To study, for work, sports clubs, childcare, facilities, simply because in cities they find everything they need. Our cities are rapidly overcrowding through depopulation of the rural environment. It’s a form of misalignment that can seriously disrupt the socio-cultural balance in a community, and it's high time we did something about it.Read more trending_flat
According to Peter Köster ‘The future is in the hands of small, self-sufficient communities’. Despite the rush to generate more housing, and despite increasing mobility and the aversion of investors to change, Köster expects that the contribution of residents to their living environment will continue to grow, and the way to successfully give voice to their involvement is: communication.Read more trending_flat
There is no future without the past, says urban planner Daaf Ledeboer. People who are involved in the process of shaping the built environment must have historical awareness: ‘I always try to think in terms of long lines in order to give identity and authenticity to the here and now from the past. Identity consists of knowing where you are in time and in space.’Read more trending_flat
To get something off the ground when everyone else sees only potential difficulties, you need to possess a combination of courage and entrepreneurship. André Snippe possesses bothembodies these qualities to a high degree, as well as a sense of what consumers consider important: ‘“Quality takes precedence over everything. The key question in everything we build is: would I like to live here myself?”Read more trending_flat
For years, Nico Wissing and Lodewijk Hoekstra have been pounding ‘the green drum’, as they call it. With their NL Greenlabel, these pioneers in sustainable design have provided a quantifiable reference point in the field of sustainability. Message: everyone building in the living environment should be held accountable for adding or extracting value.Read more trending_flat
Benjamin Denef wants to play a part in shaping the future. With his company, DMOA, he often plays the experimental card to arrive at solutions. ‘The art is to link modern technology to craftsmanship.’Read more trending_flat
The architects of Heren 5 from Amsterdam don’t see themselves as playing the classic supervisory role in the building design process. They like to use the metaphor of deftly zigzagging flocks of birds that, seemingly without a leader, nevertheless unerringly find their way. Most of all, they enjoy playing the role of ‘invisible conductor’.Read more trending_flat
The architectural practice Ponec De Winter aims to create living environments that transform with time. These spatial designers always look for the feel-good factor for their users. ‘We facilitate an enjoyable way of life.’Read more trending_flat