On the winning of SeARCH at WAF 2018 (World Architecture Festival) in Hotel and Leisure category. Handhome reached Bjarne Mastenbroek – the firm’s founder to do an interview and hear his thoughts on architecture and catch up with what’s been going on with today’s architectural trend.
Handhome: Congratulations to your winning in Hotel and Leisure category at World Architecture Festival this year. What are your thoughts?
Bjarne Mastenbroek: What do you mean, about the WAF? It was our first WAF encounter since it was held in Amsterdam this time. We were a bit reluctant to dwell in this award ceremony since it is mostly a commercial business but we were quite happy to see that the WAF had quite an extensive program with lectures and other events. Well done. The networking was more fun than expected and it is always good to see some long-time friends and collegues from all over the world.
What are some memorable features from this year WAF?
The fact that we won totally surprised us. The hotel concept award was within a field of very strong entries. We were also impressed by the enormous amount of critics coming over and thoroughly studying the submitted entries.
Could you share some insights from other architects’ perspective based on their presentations at the event? What are the main trends of today’s modern architecture?
To no one’s surprise it’s green architecture, sustainable architecture is THE trend but at the same time there is little real awareness of what this is about. How can we ask for accountability from architects and especially clients for not only delivering promises but also real performance, and how can we ensure that these qualities will also be fulfilled in the long run. How are we going to monitor this is perhaps the most important theme. It is too tempting to promise and not deliver if something is economically more profitable for an expensive “hobby” like architecture and building. The renders and animations nowadays are misleading, showing a perfectionism that is not realistic in most cases. I have witnessed that it is possible but it takes so much energy, so much time and hard work to do and I see enormous production that doesn’t match with this real problem that we are facing.
What is architecture to you? What do you want to convey in each project?
The importance of architecture is only about what people need in order to live in harmony with each other.
SeARCH’s buildings usually explore the boundaries between architecture and the site, landscape. Besides that, what do you think about the role of culture in that context?
Architecture is virtually the only act of humans that is bound to the ground. Almost all other actions don’t have that inextricable relation with the crust of the earth. We must respect and cherish that unique element. The last 5.000 years of building have made us who we are and besides living creatures we are not much more than our buildings, artistic expressions or words. That is what makes sustainability so complex. We cannot just take away all the ‘harmful’ actions because it would mean we erase our existence. But we have to do a lot although we don’t know what and how.
How would you see the future of architecture and urbanization around the world?
Cities are new nature. They will become our habitat in every aspect, much more than we can imagine right now. And we need to change our attitude towards a completely controlled, cultivated landscape that we still call nature. We need to reverse that concept.
Is there any special project you’d like to share with Handhome readers?
As in most of our projects that we do with clients, do less, not better, but just good!
Hotel Jakarta has a profound connection to Asia not only in aesthetic qualities but also historical aspect. I wonder is Vietnam one of your interests? do you intend to go to our country to gain new cultural and architectural experience?
I wish! My daughter was in Vietnam two years ago and came back completely impressed and overwhelmed by the beauty and generosity of your country.
If you were to have an architecture exhibition in Vietnam, how would you organize it so that college students can participate in the model making process, what theme/topic would you choose?
By bringing our handmade, 1:20 scale concept models of our main projects! I have been making models for three years at the university for a big Le Corbusier exhibition in the 80s. It was part of a centennial event at that time. We also made models of Adolf Loos’ houses and I learned a lot, it has since helped me tremendously with “spatial thinking” / design of space. I’m not fond of 3D printed buildings because they’re just items, products, not the architecture of space.
Thank you for taking the time to help us complete this interview!