Built in 1917 by the chief government architect Daniel E.C. Knuttel for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Trade in The Hague, the brick and stone building at Bezuidenhoutseweg 30 has been transformed by the Rotterdam-based Kaan Architecten into a home for five government-related planning and advisory agencies. I wrote an article for Architectural Record about how the once dark and heavy interiors of this national landmark are now light and transparent, and, in keeping with the changing times, B30, named after its address, is ready to facilitate an exchange of knowledge rather than the exercise of power.
The V&A Museum in London is opening a new museum next year specially for Scottish design in Dundee, the fourth largest city of Scotland. The huge building on the river Tay is the outcome of an international competition won by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who is also designing Tokyo’s Olympic stadium for 2020. The V&A is also one of the founding institutions of a new design museum, Design Society, which is to open this October in the Chinese city of Shenzen.
I first saw work by the French-Luxemburg artist duo Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil two years ago at Galerie Fontana. It was the exhibion ‘Un monde parfait – In dust suspended’. I wrote an article for NRC about the way they use their sculptures to come to grips with the desolation of the modern utopia that was realized in concrete on the edges of Paris – as in many other cities.
For the newspaper NRC I visited China and Hong Kong and wrote about the two enormous new design museums being built there: Design Society in Shenzen and M+ in Hong Kong.
Winners of the 2017 Pritzker Prize are RCR Arquitectes, a Spanish studio located by deliberate choice in the volcanic hinterland of the province of Catalunya. I interviewed them for NRC Handelsblad and made a video interview as well.
The reaction is most of the architecture world was: ‘Who?’ By chance I knew their work: I had stayed in an extraordinary hotel they designed with rooms made entirely of glass, I had visited a school + library in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, and I had seen an exhibition on their work in Barcelona. I returned to their town of Olot, to the 16th-century foundry where their studio is located, to speak with them, and visited their striking underground bodega in Palamós, on the coast north of Barcelona.
The New York Times quoted me when they recently published an article about architect Koen Olthuis this November. The reference derives from my article for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad from 2009 which is also recently translated.
The work of Dutch architect Koen Olthuis is still relevant because it is progressive and genuine at the same time. Olthuis envisions entire cities being built on water in the (near) future. ‘Save the world, build on water’ is Olthuis’ philosophy in a nutshell.