What is an architect doing in a shared workshop with only designers?
I have always positioned myself between architecture and ‘making’. As an architect I find it somewhat frustrating that I don’t actually make the buildings that I design. I make drawings of the buildings and then someone else makes that building a reality. In the end, architects create a lot of paper. This is also interesting, because you are still thinking about spaces, but I missed a physical approach. How can you mould material around a space? That is actually what architecture does; manipulating material in such a way that spaces arise. It is impossible to do this behind your laptop only. You need a workshop. In my search of what it means to be an architect, but also what it means to be a maker and a making architect, I came to this shared workshop.
What does it mean to be a “making architect”? What do you create that a “non-making architect” does not?
I’m continuously looking for what more a scale model can tell within a design process then a 3D-model on the computer. A nice impression image is easy to make, but a design process entails so much more than just that. By making, I’m looking for that last detail in a space and I’m continuously pushing myself to find new ways to do so. By experimenting with different materials and techniques you end up with different results. For me, this is what it means to be a “making architect”. It opens up my own thought process.
What have you studied?
I started at Design Academy Eindhoven, and after a year I went to the Technical University to study architecture. At the Design Academy, I missed mathematics and physics. I really enjoy trying to understand something that is completely abstract. Architecture is like that. It is very abstract and I try to fully understand it.
Are you a one-of-a-kind architect, or are there more “making architects” like you?
There are definitely other architects who design by actually making. That excites me, because it means that there are other, like-minded architects who I can test my ideas with. It is just very time consuming, which means it is expensive. As a result, this working method is not feasible or necessary for all projects and clients. The added value lies in making the everyday things special. You can achieve this by diving into the details.
Companies that want a warehouse next to the highway it is not necessary that it is a conceptual design.
Those companies just want a lot of square meters; fast and cheap. But even then, I believe it is important to add value. It should not be a luxury to do so. I believe you shouldn’t only create something special when there is a big bag of money. As architect or designer, you should add value in your work for everyone. The client can find joy in having something special. If the client is looking for that, even a warehouse along the highway can be very beautiful. It can be a place where people feel good and where they like to work. That doesn’t have to be very expensive. You just need more love and attention.
The certain ‘slowness’ in my design process is partly paid by the client. And partly paid by myself, because I always put in more hours when doing a project. I’m able to do this, because I make sure my costs are low. The shared workshop, for instance, gives me extra possibilities without costing me a lot of money. Every project that I do needs to be of high quality. I feel a strong sense of responsibility towards the people who hire me. They are going to live or work in the buildings that I design on a daily base. It will become a big part of their life. Out of love for people I invest in these projects myself. That is why I like to design for people so much. I find it much harder to design for a real estate developer who will sell all the houses after completion, because in that case I don’t know who is going to use my buildings. I have a deep appreciation for my clients, because they are willing to think about the way they want to live and they let me think along about how to shape that.