WA magazine (China) on Complex Projects

Interview by TIAN Ni - WA magazine (China), 326 issue, 08 2017

In relation to the background of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology, World Architecture interviewed the Chair of the Complex Project (2006-present), professor Kees Kaan.

 

WA: World Architecture is going to publish an issue on “Space for Architectural Teaching” exploring the relationship between teaching space and architectural education. Can you please let our audience know more about the Faculty of architecture at Delft? And something about “BK City”?

Kees Kaan (KK): The faculty members of architecture at Delft come from many departments, so it’s not just an architecture school focusing on designing buildings exclusively, it’s called the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, so it looks at a wider scope of everything related to the making of our environment, including urban planning, real estate management, building technology, heritage, restoration renovation, and of course architecture. And all these different departments are combined into one faculty and they all use that building called “BK City”. It is called BK City because it functions like a city. It is a place with many, different cultures or subcultures inside it, like people from different neighborhoods, with different attentions, and different interests.

So before BK City was there, the architectural faculty consisted of the same group of people. They were housed in a totally different building that was built in the 1960s designed by Jaap Bakema and Johannes van den Broek, two very important Dutch architects, and it was a building with a highrise tower, but it burned down in 2008. That building was a very well articulated architectural project, specifically designed to be an architectural faculty. After the fire, that destroyed the entire building, the faculty was provisionally housed in tents. It changed the faculty from being vertically organized to the horizontal layout of the tents.

It is totally different spatial experience that changed entirely the way people collaborated and started to work, because in the building with the vertical system, with elevators and staircases, most of the meet and greet happened only on the ground floor. After a coffeebreak or a lunch we had move up to disappear into our own individual space to sit there and work. There was not so much informal interaction between people, between different faculty members. Interactions between students and professors etc. were even less because professors and teachers had their own rooms and they could simply go into their rooms closing the door. In the tents this was not possible because there were no doors and we had no rooms, so everybody was in one big space and everything was provisionally, and that created a very informal atmosphere of exchange of knowledge and information, and meeting each other. Of course it was a bit more difficult to concentrate into work and the comfort was rather moderate. Then finally the university decided to put the faculty of architecture – which is a very large faculty actually, we are about three thousand people there – to put it in an old building they actually we’re just intending to sell but with the fire they stopped it at the last moment.

It was an old chemistry building that is now turned into BK City, and that old building became our new home. I like this building which stretches out as a long horizontal surface with different wings and courtyards, and two of the big courtyards were covered with a big glass roof. One of those courtyards became the orange room, where students work, where lecture and events are organized and that has become the emblematic space of the faculty. It’s always a bit noisy, but it is very dynamic too.

The other big courtyard became the model room, big machines are placed and many students can make models simultaneously, and the rest of the building most renovated in very fast quick way, very provisional, to make it possible for the active faculty to move in within two or three months, that happens, and it was the best thing that ever happened to the school of architecture at Delft. Since that moment communication between people of the school became more informal and more frequent.

The ambience became much better, big spaces for exchange, big floor plates, and also because of this somehow provisional character. Things were not perfect and that was exactly right. It was of course a shock. The fire shook up the whole population of BK City. Professors like me, we don’t have our own private rooms, I don’t even have my own desk. I am working everyday from my laptop. I do have a room for my chair where did my team can work together, but I don’t have my individual desk, the disadvantages maybe that you’re sometimes difficult to find, but the advantage is you work in a much more open and informal ambience, no treshholds. So I think, this is what happened to the architecture faculty in the Netherlands: fire, the tents, the new building, the provisional renovation and the way it is used. The faculty was taken out of its comfort zone entirely, and then had to work with what was available at short notice. Not everything is perfect, and it’s impossible to get the perfect. I hope gradually we will improve the building to make acoustics better in certain rooms and things are being improved, but this sort of level of inconvenience and the necessity to work with what you have, created a very strong, good collaborative spirit that improves the way people exchange knowledge and information, and so to improve education.

 

WA: In your opinion, what are the connections between architectural space and teaching?

KK: Well yes there is important connection, because we have experienced with the shift it made a huge impact.

It has shaken the institutional aspect of teaching. Louis Kahn said: for teaching, what you need is a place where you sit under the tree, you make a circle together and you have a teaching situation, teacher and students under a tree. To a certain extent that is true, so teaching is possible under very different conditions, but it always happens among people. Teaching is about the exchange of knowledge and information. When there is a necessity to organize teaching at larger scale, to institutionalize it, then the question of the type of facilities you need becomes relevant. Say how many trees you need with people under it, and how many big trees and small trees or big rooms or small rooms and how many meeting places, and also, so what kind of settlement or layout to make, for the institute to function. So for teaching, not with standing studio or seminar or big lectures or informal discussions, you need students to feel comfortable, and you prefer the students to work at the school rather than them staying at home, so you want them to come to the building and do their work there.

So the building has to provide a large scale of different facilities in different places, for the students to feel connected, to feel that they want to be there, so I don’t have the sort of recipe for an ideal teaching space. It is such a complex question, but I think that, the bottom line is exchange and meeting, and I think that is super important for a pleasure place of education.

 

WA: How about the mixed functions of the review space or the exhibition space?

KK: I think the most of the spaces have relatively dedicated character, for example, the model room is mostly used for models.

 

WA: But sometimes, the presentation and exhibition can happen in the same time and same place.

KK: Well, I would say it’s not so easy that we mix in BK City two difference things. There would be a larger exhibition space for graduation exhibitions, so that at events we do very often or sometimes we have to do that object. The other thing is the store, because our students doing the models, and we have to storage them now and then, because the classrooms have to be empty and clean, studio spaces have to be empty for new studios and then we want to keep the models for presentation, at the end of three semesters I want to make an exhibition but two storage is the work of the students, that’s really problematic, we simply don’t have this place for that so that it’s still a problem. I think it is important also to consider both exhibition and storage.

 

WA: So you mean in terms of usage, it’s more like leaving the place to be occupied, and then we discover our function and reinterpreted with this place?

KK: I think it depends on density. I do think we have pressure, and cannot use the place with flexibility. It automatically occurs, especially when a high pressure on the space exists. That’s not only in an educational facility but also happens in cities already, so when there’s a lot of pressure on the usage, people become automatically creative, tolerant and flexible. In BK we have a very high pressure. We have a huge facility, but still it always fully filled and crammed and it’s really very intensely used, of course there are also very quiet moments, but that has to do with the system of education. All the programs are sort of running in parallels, so everybody has his presentations in the same weeks, everything runs in parallel, so there are very quiet weeks, and then there are the weeks that you need three times the building. In that sense, it would be more practical not to run everything in parallel, because you have this academic calendar, a very strong demarcation of semesters and quarters, periods for exams, so you always have the peaks of use of the building. It is complicate.

 

WA: After fire, what happened to the original building?

KK: It was not a little fire. The fire completely and totally burned down the building and it disappeared entirely. So it was really collapsed, after that, there was nothing left but ashes, so that’s why we went to the other building, originally with the intention as a temporary place, and then to build a new building. That temporary solution turned out to be okay, let’s us simply stay there.

 

WA: As we know, a part of the areas was designed by MVRDV, what do you think about it?

KK: I like it very much, it’s very nice places. It’s one of the courtyards that they made the lecture facilities in it, the orange stairs, and I think it’s very nice, at the stairs students can sit and hang around. Sometimes lectures take place there, and it works as one of the central spaces in the building.

 

WA: In BK City, which part of the building is most popular for the students? How about the users’ feedback?

KK: I’m not sure, because I never interviewed the students. There are different rooms that are very much liked, but it seems they do like the cafe outside, especially on sunny days, it can be very crowded there. So there’s really a hot spot as you can say, also the espresso bar is really a meeting point, it’s very much liked. I think the students also like very much the model room, it’s a very good place, it’s very big spectacle, and it’s nice to work there and see all the models and see different students at work. The orange room, I think, is also much liked, and also much appreciated, because there is a very strong character, it’s sort of a icon for the BK City. You could say it is one of the wonderful places that is photographed a lot, but then there are also educational areas like those in the east wing, the ground floor space which is a very big nice studio, and you can work with at least hundred students, it’s super nice and fantastic.

(Proofread by LIU Yishi)

IN Chicago studio: Speakeasy vol.II

On March 22 and 23, 2017 starting from 6.30 PM, ARCHEWORKS HQ will host the second episode of The Chicago Speakeasy, a series of talks with leading experts exploring Chicago's past and future.

The series, conceived by the Chair of Complex Projects (TU Delft) in collaboration with ARCHEWORKS, intends to capture the spirit – the geist – that inherently orders Chicago’s social, economic and spatial decisions. Regardless of historical and contemporary periods of turmoil, The Chicago Speakeasy seek to understand the underlying essence of the city by inviting several speakers into open discussions.

The upcoming 2-days talks will be held at ARCHEWORKS (625 N Kingsbury, Chicago) and host:

The American Dream on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 (6:30–8:30PM) with Kees Kaan, Paul O’Connor, Maria Bergh, Jack Macnamara, and Ytasha Womack; and

Pursuit of Ownership on Thursday, March 23, 2017 (6:30–8:30PM) with Kees Kaan, Ghian Foreman, Luis Monterrubio, and Ryan Nestor.

 

OverHolland 16/17: book launch

Kees Kaan, as Chair of Complex Projects, will join the official launch of OverHolland 16/17 on January 15, 2016 organized by the editors in collaboration with The Berlage.

The main focus of OverHolland 16/17 is on the relationship between regional planning, research and architectural design. Kees Kaan will give a statement on the research carried out by Complex Projects PhD programme on mobility and transit-oriented policies in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture of TU Delft and other chairs.

January 15, 2016 – h 16.00 | Lecture room K – Faculty of Architecture (TU Delft)

 

Kees Kaan “Beautification” at the Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chair of Complex Projects (TU Delft) together with ARCHEWORKS, as affiliate partners of the first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial, are curating the lecture series "In Chicago".

In conjunction with the opening days of the biennial, Kees Kaan has been invited to give a public lecture on Friday October 2 from 19.00 at ARCHEWORKS.

Kees Kaan lecture “Beautification” states that architectural innovation in itself serves no purpose unless a proper balance between private interest and common values is established. The lecture will critically reflect on the contextual narrative as the driver of the architectural concept to generate a self-evident relation between city, building, construction and detail.

To participate, please RSVP here.

In_Chicago_Kaan

 

Complex Projects featured on Domus 992, June 2015 issue

Kees Kaan's chair of Complex Projects​ (Department of Architecture, TU Delft) is featured in this June issue of Domus​ magazine with a four-pages article.

The article is the monthly focus of Domus’ “Coriandoli/Confetti” column on the most interesting and established chairs and researches within the architecture faculties.

Here a little introduction to the piece: “The didactic instruction devised by Kees Kaan for the course he directs at the Delft University of Technology aims to train architects to deal with the complexity of our profession from a different point of view, involving continuous dialogue between teachers and students, and critical thinking that leads to solving diverse problems by means of non-conventional methodologies.”

To download the article, follow the PDF link down here.

11536419_10152897310651120_2335252133291701188_o

Anatomy of a Landmark feat. Cruz y Ortiz – “Studio Amsterdam” presentation

The Landmark studio, part of Kees Kaan's Complex Projects chair, is hosting "Studio Amsterdam" with Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz as special teaching professors in a collaboration between the Spatial Planning Department of Amsterdam and TU Delft Department of Architecture. The fall semester was under the guidance of Antonio Ortiz, the spring semester will be curated by Antonio Cruz.

This year Studio Amsterdam focuses its research on the Plantage area, an historical area in the center East part of the Dutch capital city, owing its very special character to the 17th Century historical decision to not continue the typical canal system, but to develop this as an area for urban gardens and leisure programme.

The dynamics of the Plantage today are largely influenced by developments regarding Artis, the Amsterdam zoo, and the development of the University of Amsterdam on the Roeterseiland and along the Plantage Muidergracht.

The students were asked to take critical stance on the specific character of Plantage and to think how it can be further developed taking the area as the Landmark.

Studio Amsterdam_Ortiz1 bw
Prof. Antonio Ortiz reviewing students workProject_Hedwig van der Linden lowstudio project by Hedwig van der Linden

Print

studio project by Milda Kulviciute

 

IN CHICAGO research studio launch

Kees Kaan’s Chair Complex Projects, in collaboration with ARCHEWORKS and ChicagoComplex is pleased to announce the launch of IN CHICAGO: a collaborative architecture and urbanism research studio that brings graduate students from TU Delft to Chicago.

Beginning of Fall 2015, the new studio will start a two-year objective to examine possibilities for Chicago: its growth, de-growth, infrastructure, and alternative visions for existing municipal plans. The Complex Projects chair at Department of Architecture – TU Delft has been investigating Chicago and the Midwest since 2012 as it presents a unique opportunity for both students and professionals to rethink and re-examine critical urban and regional regeneration models.

Mitesh Dixit (DOMAIN) will lead the studio. Andrew Balster, Executive Director of ARCHEWORKS and ChicagoComplex, will direct and oversee the daily work in Chicago.

Detailed information regarding the studio, lecture series, workshops, and participation in the Chicago Architecture Biennial will be announced in March.

 

Chair Manual 2014

The Chair of Complex Projects (CP) targets all scales of the architectural thinking, details, building, city, and region. Expanding the knowledge about design and dense urban areas development, broads the mind and thinking of future architects.

Cities are increasingly transformed by strategic interventions rather than stable long-term Master plans. Those interventions result in complex developments where multiple public and private interests must be investigated and negotiated simultaneously. The decreasing role of the Public entity, after the liberal policy especially in old Europe and US economies, has stimulated the emergence of public-private partnerships with the aim to develop interventionism. This gave rise to projects that redefine traditional urban and architectural aspects of our professional reality.

Transportation, universities, healthcare centers, architectural and urban interventions on outskirts or on former industrial areas and harbors are examples of Complex Projects. Those allow private interest to exploit commercial opportunities by dealing with public interest, which demands resources to improve and develop strategic city sites. However, to achieve balance, projects must have a way to manage and negotiate diverse factors. Due to this reality, the design becomes a communication tool where the designer takes a planner role, spokesperson or communicator, and eventually, an Architect.

As a result, the approach of the Chair challenges the strict distinction between Architecture, Urbanism, Planning and their traditional, perhaps linear roles. Studies on the emergence and development of urban areas through Architectural Projects give an understanding of the dynamics and the reasoning involved in these highly complex processes. The ultimate goal is generating analytical and critical thinking skills next to the traditional design, allowing future architects to successfully engage the multiple Complex Project demands.

Chair-Manual-CP

 

Masterplanning Central Prat – Kees Kaan

Kees Kaan will be giving a lecture at the TU Delft as the Complex Projects studio - chair professor about KAAN Architecten winning project for the design of El Prat master plan in Barcelona.

Kees Kaan will be giving a lecture at the TU Delft as the Complex Projects studio – chair professor about KAAN Architecten winning project for the design of El Prat master plan in Barcelona.

Lecture will take place from 1.30pm to 3.00pm at the Room A.

http://www.tudelft-architecture.nl/chairs/complex-projects

Vertical Cities Asia – Seoul 2012 winning projects

The two Delft teams run by Complex Projects won the first shared prize with “The Open Ended City” and the “Life Time City”.

The annual chosen city was Seoul and the students were called to design a one square kilometer of land for 100.000 people basing the concept on density, sustainability and quality of life.

The head of judging panel said: “We wanted to distinguish a thoughtful process oriented approach, a comprehensive consideration of a variety of dimensions that contribute to city building with a clear vision towards the future, even with a relatively open formalization. Results and form really matters, but the jury wanted to highlight the attention paid to process and programs in the proposals”.

Winning teams are “The Open Ended city” (Stef Bogaerds, Claudio Saccucci, Samuel Liew, Erjen Prins, Jan Maarten Mulder); “Life Time City” (Laura Dinkla, Katerina Salonikidi, Maria Stamati, Johnny Tascon, Qiu Ye). Professors are: Mitesh Dixit, Henco Bekkering.

VCA-2012