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The New Architect

The new assignment?


1. Where will the building be located in the future?
2. What is the building of the future?
3. How will the building be made in the future?
4. Who will make the building of the future?
1. Where will the building be located in the future?
The theme for the future is densification and dilution.
The densification will take place in the city now that the urbanisation is set to
further continue in the coming period. The city is the place for renewed
building typologies of the future and will be a melting pot of different functional
uses as a result of complex densification. Moreover, existing and already
existing structures and parts of buildings are used, or not used as the case
may be. Many buildings will undergo a transformation within already existing
infrastructures. Building volume and complexity of constructions are
increasing, and integration and a good connection to the infrastructure are
unavoidable. A new urban landscape is arising, in which the composition of
the building volume to be added plays an important role.
Case study: TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht
The demand for homes in the city is increasing. Every cubic metre of building
volume will have to be examined and optimised within existing structures and
regulations. Intensive building in high densities requires clever plans with a
good used of the existing space: small is beautiful.
Flexibility and optimal use of energy are an integral part of the assignment.
Accessibility and orientation require clever design solutions with which the
consumer is preferably able to choose how his or her own residential
environment is defined, according to his or her age and mobility. You should
also not forget that the Dutch government is looking into how it can add
hundreds of thousands of homes in an existing urban area of the Randstad
conurbation.
Case study: Casco loft in the Houthavens area of Amsterdam
At the same time, dilution is occurring outside of the urbanisation. What kind
of future does the building still have there and what should we do with the
high vacancy levels that are arising there. A large-scale selection of empty
buildings that are of value, or simply need to disappear, is taking place there.
How can we make small clusters of new, interlinked living environments, and
which mechanisms and architectural interventions are necessary for that?
How should we deal with the heritage that is present there or has
disappeared?

This is the challenge set by the international architecture exhibition IBA


Parkstad in Zuid Limburg. One assignment could be to choose the erased
mine landscape as basis for identity, innovation and cohesion.
Example: IBA Parkstad, recreational production landscape, landmarks,
geothermal study, cycle infrastructure, hotspots (AnnA)
And you can argue to an extent that the building of the future in the
Netherlands already exists. Those are the existing structures that were
recently made and for which another use is requested as a result of the
economic crisis. They are the countless peripheral landscapes which we,
among other things, created in the 1980s and which we need to raise to a
higher level by means of surgical interventions. No large-scale demolition, but
transformation that contributes to a better coherence and living conditions of
such desolate areas.
Example: Bullewijk in the south-east of Amsterdam and Sloterdijk in the west
of Amsterdam.
And if we begin to consider how to deal with such renovation of existing
buildings, we will at the same time have to reflect on how to densify such a
sprawl and provide it with a new use. How can problems relating to sound,
particulate matter and the barrier effect of infrastructure bundles are
integrated in the new programmes of buildings?
Example: the outskirts of Los Angeles
2. What is the building of the future?
We have recently made many icons, buildings which can provide the city with
new cultural life and economic growth. Time will tell if we will still love such
buildings, or perhaps better, if we will become attached to these buildings. An
object which the public becomes attached to is a good example of
sustainability. The clear beauty which many understand, not only from a
monumental status, obviously needs to be protected and accepted by society.
The renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is, of course, an outstanding
example of this. The Shell Tower on the shores of the IJ in Amsterdam North
has not managed to survive as an icon and will be radically adapted.
However, the monument status of a building is increasingly often not the only
condition for transformation. Citizen initiatives also contribute to the placing of
existing objects, which add new life to the city, on the agenda.
Examples: 1. De Hallen, Amsterdam West; 2. High line New York City
At the same time, the building of the future is where we will live happily.
However, these homes do not often fulfil the requirements of the modern age.
Moreover, this involves our own housing stock. All kinds of adjustments are
necessary for improve energy demand, sound and adaptability to living
requirements without us switching to large-scale demolition and new

developments. Herein lies a very great architectural challenge. It is the great


post-war housing stock which was largely built at the edges of the existing city
from the 1950s.
Example: Prt--Loger, TU Delft
A similar type of challenge lies in wait for the vacancy levels of the Dutch state
real estate. Everyone feels that writing off the costs is not the only problem.
But can we simply crush this large stock into demolition waste? The challenge
lies in anchoring such objects, to give them new life, even if only for temporary
use. The existing building as stimulus for inventive reuse and impulse for the
surrounding area puts the new coherence of existing volume in complex
urban environments on the agenda. Will the building become the trigger for
renewal or is it an interplay with the approach of the total urban district where
these vacancy levels are situated.
And in the case of those buildings which cannot support renovation, there is
the trend to dissect and reinterpret this to the very core. For example, the
Superuse-Studios already makes catalogues of existing building components
of vacant buildings, so that an exchange market of used building components
can arise via internet.
And there are the buildings that are of cultural and historical value and
important to our memory. These buildings must be preserved intelligently
without a direct user being ready to use the object.
Compare it to the long-term storage of a valuable restored old-timer, which is
waiting safely in a parking garage for a new owner and, in the meantime, is
becoming more valuable.
Example: Porsche 912 from 1965
3. How will the building of the future be made?
The Porsche from 1965 no longer has the same technology as that from
2015. And not to mention the Porsche from 2030, now that the self-driving car
has become a reality.
In terms of building in the future the following applies: if technology is the
answer, what is the question? The necessity is for us to be able to integrate
our technical ability into architecture. I would like to mention this:
INTECTURE, integration of technology in architecture. It is the permanent
search for the material that can do everything, the material that does not exist,
but that is sought time and time again in the building industry: stimulate where
possible the search for zappi
Intecture brings spatial, functional, social design and technical possibilities
and developments together. Subjects like product design, material research,
building physics, structural mechanics, computation and model and
production techniques all play a major part in architecture. In fact, architecture

and engineering are irreversible connected with each other.


Intecture is about the integration of technology in architecture. Besides that,
Intecture is about the position of the architect. Is the architect of the 21st
century an architectural engineer? Intecture wants to present examples that
can be used for inspiration, integration, innovation and industrialization.
And in addition to material development, there have been new methods in
preparation for a long time of which you can imagine that these will influence
the thinking and actions of architects, builders and consumers. A second
industrial revolution is also coming.
That will be about the digitalization of new production methods, in which we
make use of everything that is now being developed in the field of 3D printing,
CNC milling, robotics, etc.
As a result of integration and digitalization of such technology, a great
freedom arises for designers and for consumers. By linking this technology to
the wishes of users and designer, we can develop (open) platforms that will
offer us many more options.
3D printing and digital manufacturing of building components are still at an
early stage, but in terms of potential you feel that an enormous advance can
be made here in terms of process and production. A big advantage to this way
of working is of course: flexibility and tools that can help give users the
greatest possible design freedom. This can, for example, be the guide for
arriving at mass customized building systems.
Example: MaCuBs
4. Who will make the building of the future?
Many people are now asking themselves: will the architect disappear, or to
put it less resolutely, what influence will he or she still have in the future? Who
will be the master builder of the future and will the profession not definitively
tip towards being an architectural stylist employed by the creative or
construction industry?
And if the architect no longer has a dominant position, will we not slide into
the middle of the road: making buildings and environments with a dull,
mediocre quality, mostly only obliging the feeble wishes of consumers, and
where experimentation and progress can no longer be found as recognizable
design themes.
Example: row of homes house front.
In the 1980s, a similar sort of discussion occurred within industrial design. The
industry made boring products, where the design was, in some cases, poured
over it like a type of sauce. We called that styling. Take, for example, jazzed

up toasters and tea kettles, but also ugly-looking coffee machines. And the
car industry also has examples of this. When the industry began to
understand that the design of the products form and technology could be
forged together, sales were suddenly considerably better. Marketing,
production method, but also the appearance were part of an integral process,
in which form, material and construction method became a whole.
In the 1990s, there was subsequently still the boom in Dutch Design on top of
that, self-producing designers who managed to get their own products on the
market and came up with new ideas conceptually in terms of how to treat
material, processes and use differently. They gave an enormous boost to
product design culturally, economically and in terms of use. Dutch design has
become a global brand. It is a lesson that the building industry, but definitely
also the Dutch architecture world, can take extremely seriously. It briefly
seemed that Dutch architecture, at the time of the publication of the book
Super Dutch, would experience similar international progress. That was in the
1990s, the time that the building, the environment and the design of the city
was also an administrative assignment: architectural quality as assignment for
the public administration.
Nowadays, the question is how Dutch politics views the quality of architecture.
Is the architect still the most suitable person to bear the responsibility first?
Following the real estate fraud and crisis, people also started looking
differently at the quality of architects work. There is a tendency to see the
architectural component as a part that you cannot manage. The position of
the Dutch architect has been eroded in recent decades and has suffered even
more serious blows as a result of the recent crisis.
That brings me to the heart of the question: Who will make the building of the
future? The architect, the real estate owner or the society by means of
participation? Who has final responsibility?
There is hope. Nowadays, you see young, mostly newly graduated architects
designing and producing their own buildings or building components through
trial and error as their own boss. A very interesting trend in which the architect
appropriates his or her traditional core task in essence and experiments with
new methods and technologies.
At the same time, the engineering firms appear to be experiencing good
growth again and there is an opportunity for architects as seasoned designers
to enclose themselves in an environment of strong engineers. And that is
what we need to arrive at a good design: integral design and engineering.
Well educated and professionally experienced architects must be the pioneers
of good buildings and urban structures, which also have an added value from
a cultural perspective. This must be stimulated. We are not finished building,
as the former chief government architect stated last year. We have only just
started and the complexity of the assignments is enormous. Large
architectural questions relating to urban and landscape environments are

waiting for us, in which it is important that these can be taken on by the right
talents with the right attitude.
Moreover, we must not only focus on the results, thinking that there are
advances within universities. The new architect must also be trained by
inspired teachers, a few of whom also know the ropes from practice. If that is
approach, there will still be a future for architecture as added value for our
society.
These are new times, and they are about new content and searching for
innovations, and creating new value to make progress.
However, the building industry in the Netherlands could well be the next
Vroom & Dreesman (V&D), the large Dutch department store that latched on
to online shopping and other innovations too late. Falling sales and tighter
margins have led to the retail sector not making room for investments in
innovations.
So all architects are warned: innovate and go for the renew assignment.
Thijs Asselbergs
Chair of architectural engineering
TU Delft
Summer 2016