Applied research is an integral part of our studio practice. Central focus of this research is the finding and development of applicable architectonical models.
In the studio, pleasure in the discovery of new architectonical models and an imperturbable search for the next unique prototype go hand in hand. Paul de Vroom started this continuous process during his graduation, at that time resulting in the legendary “Blue Box” in which 22 urban prototypes are documented and abstracted for use in the so called ‘projection method’. This method makes use of the projection of a specific model on a site, transforming and mechanically multiplying or dividing it, thus resulting in useful and unexpected perspectives on the potential of the location. Moreover, the method initiates a creative process in which both logical and unique solutions are found. We happily apply our knowledge of architectonical models and prototypes on new projects and locations in development.
The content of the Blue Box consists of 22 prototypical plans
For any new location, a thorough knowledge of the given context is essential. Regulations, normative budgets and building methods indicate if a specific proposal is viable or not. This is illustrated in an urban study for two building blocks for the Municipal Industrial Zone (GIT) in The Hague. Orientation, housing typology and gross/net ratio are taken into account when distributing the program on the site, resulting in a design in which the lay-out of the social housing is very distinct from that of the apartments with a higher rent.
Elementary school Jacobsvlinder
The ‘projection method’ facilitates a discussion on different options and scenarios with our client. For the elementary school ‘Jacobsvlinder’ (Cinnabar Moth) we elaborated distinctive organizational models: a model integrated in the landscape, a vertical helix and a compact model with a central hall. The various models enabled the client and the architect to identify and prioritize qualities related to integration into the urban context, internal spatial organization, architectonical expression and budget.
Example of distinct models projected on the site of the Jacobsvlinder
Our search for valuable models is not limited to recent examples in the Netherlands, above all we look for daring models in the kaleidoscopic history of the global movement of modern architecture. Sometimes notorious and sometimes obscure, the projects include those of the expressive Catalan Modernista-movement, of the visionary phase of Russian constructivism or structures of urban and suburban utopias. All are a source of inspiration for our studio.
Skhodnya block 4 and 5
The client of blocks 4 and 5 in the Moscow suburb of Skhodnya shares with us a fascination for the elementary and prototypical American skyscraper of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These skyscrapers consist of a bold volumetric shape composed of a base, a body and a crown. Without directly copying the architectonic vocabulary, this composition is directly recognizable in the design of the towers in which a black skin (base), a white skin (body) and coloured strips (crown) merge smoothly.
The composition of the traditional skyscraper is transformed for blocks 4 and 5
Certain design processes get their inspiration from arts other than architecture. The references found in other arts catalyse communication between architect and client and open up new perspectives on the conditions given. These references are sometimes explicitly recognizable in the final design, more often they evolve and integrate during the design process, making them only indirectly traceable in the realized building.
Skhodnya blocks 10 and 11
Our client for blocks 10 and 11 in Skhodnya dared us to invent an architecture that links to the sense of reality of the future dwellers. These dwellers, young cosmopolitan Muscovites, immerse themselves in the contemporary pop culture as expressed in present-day music, art and fashion. During the conceptual phase of the design, the performance of Lady Gaga in a layered dress was used as a catalyser, with the costumes Malevich designed for the play ‘Victory over the sun’ as a direct reference. The fish-bone structure of the towers was indirectly derived from ‘layer-fashion’ and generates a unique appearance and characteristic spatial qualities.
Layered-fashion as a source of inspiration for the concept of block 10 and 11