NL Architects is an Amsterdam based office. The initial four principals, Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk, Kamiel Klaasse and Mark Linnemann, officially opened practice in January 1997, but have shared workspace already since the early nineties.
Architecture is the medium through which we hope to contribute to the understanding of contemporary culture -and to its development. We understand architecture as the speculative process of investigating, revealing and reconfiguring the wonderful complexities of the world we live in. Can we compress banality into beauty; squeeze the sublime out of the obvious? How can we transform, twist, bend, stack or stretch, enhance or reduce, or reassemble the components that constitute our environment into new and better configurations?
We were all educated at Delft University while living in Amsterdam. As a consequence we have spent a lot of time in the confined space of the car, about two hours a day. The conversations and the exchange of ideas were inspiring. In that sense we like to think of ourselves as auto-didactic; the recurrent fascination with mobility and tarmac perhaps could be traced back to being ‘educated’ on the highway. (Traffic jams would mean longer time to ‘study’). The first office space was a blue metallic Ford Escort Station. The use of the Dutch bumper sticker as a Logo can be explained from this origin. .NL is the Internet extension for the Netherlands -adding the dot to the bumper sticker expressed the emerging love for the Digital Highway too. The insertion of the point was the minimum addition that allowed appropriation of the already existing emblem. As such the logo serves as a reminder: can we do it with less? This ambition to alter ‘The Existing’ by modifying as few parameters as possible could maybe be considered a property of ‘Dutchness’. At least it is a fundamental part of our ‘game’.
Often the projects focus on ordinary aspects of everyday life, including the unappreciated or negative, that are enhanced or twisted in order to bring to the fore the unexpected potential of the things that surround us. By sampling existing fragments of reality and recombining them, gluing bits and pieces together into new coherent arrangements, our architecture can be understood as The Remix of Reality: the architect as Deejay.
The office has always operated at the level of the hypothetical and the concrete simultaneously. New media allowed us to investigate speculative realities -this is one of the great assets of growing up in the nineties- while at the same time the hands-on work for friends and family (and later professional clients) from the start gave us a sense of the tactile, of the ‘real’ assembly of materials and spaces.
By reconfiguring our everyday reality we hope to establish more efficient / more practical solutions for our surroundings, and to produce more ‘meaningful’ combinations of what is ‘already there’. These ‘affective relations’ can emerge if we discover (or create) links with the context. This can either be the physical reality that envelops a project, or the set of rules and regulations or ‘culture’ that forms its backdrop. In order to be successful the work should be ‘embedded’ in more than one way. We believe that the best design is capable of resolving multiple issues in a single gesture.
We can identify several recurring obsessions: ‘Publicness’, is it possible to upgrade accessibility; can we enhance the public character of a building? Doubling –not just in terms of stacking, but can we achieve multiple effects, results or meanings in one single gesture? Integrated Differentiation –can we create a series of sections / areas that have specific qualities and that are at the same time ‘unified’?
An ongoing investigation is how to ‘integrate’ the car in architecture and urbanism. It is remarkable to see that the position of the car in architecture and urbanism –100 years after its invention- is not yet resolved. Several projects focus on mixing existing typologies, like parking lot and patio dwellings for instance, or street and terraced housing. RoofRoad -an assignment for 200 houses in an expansion of The Hague- is the ‘Remix’ of the typical Dutch suburb, called VINEX. The densities in VINEX are too high to successfully reward all ‘consumer wishes’, the gardens are much too small, not enough space for kids to play. Within VINEX the roads and parking consume 37% of the ground surface; more than 55% of the textures is solid: tarmac or concrete or bricks. At the same time the densities are too low to consider the condition urban. Double use of the ground might be a solution. By combining infrastructure and building, by turning the roof into the road, 25% is gained: a quarter extra space compared to the normal VINEX! This surplus space can now be used in a better way: for public or semi-public space, green or water, for playgrounds and for large gardens. Every house has a front door and two parking spaces on the roof. By positioning the driveway on top of the houses a wonderful panoramic view is guaranteed: a roof with a view. The ground level is car free and kid friendly. Although childishly simple in concept the paradigm shift proved to be too dramatic. With the decline of Dutch economy and the demise of courage and innovation, the project died prematurely. We still wonder: why basement parking is considered normal and rooftop parking utopist?
A selection of our projects includes Parkhouse/Carstadt (an attempt to integrate auto-mobility and architecture), WOS 8 (a rubber clad Heat Transfer Station in Utrecht), the Mandarina Duck Store in Paris (for/with Droog Design) and the Dutch entry for the Biennale in Venice in 2000 (the so-called NL Lounge). The BasketBar (a grand café with a basketball court on the roof at the university campus of Utrecht) and the conferencecenterlunchloungelobby for insurance company Interpolis in Tilburg were completed. Recently a residence in Korea, the conversion of a school building into a cultural facility in Amsterdam, the ‘reanimation’ and reprogramming of the space under the elevated highway A8 in Koog aan de Zaan, a restaurant / residence pavilion in Amsterdam and -together with DS Landschapsarchitecten- a public square in Dordrecht were completed.
At the moment we are working on ‘numerous projects in various stages of development’: several housing projects, among which a block for 200 units, 400 parking spaces and a shopping center of 10.000m2 in Amsterdam, 100 units in Rotterdam, 50 units in 16 stories in Groningen, Sport facilities for the University of Leiden and the city of Dordrecht -the sculptural façade doubles as climbing wall, and the so-called Muziek Paleis, a ‘crossover’ music hall in 3D Masterplan by Studio Herzberger, Utrecht. We are delighted to say that after 10 years of suspense Blok K in Funen Amsterdam –maybe our most significant housing project- is finally under construction.
And we gave birth to a Monster: 3Vase is the bizarre but still fully functional outcome of an experiment to bring together 3 archetypal vases into one object in order to fit any bouquet. 3Vase became the 3D-sybol for the ongoing research into how to manipulate the Existing into previously unimagined realities.
From the start we have always employed an international staff, currently of approximately 20 people – paradoxically the Dutch have always been a minority in the office!
Pantheon n. 3, 06 07, Wallpaper, May 2007, Bauwelt 21 07/25 Mai 2007, Mark n.7 April/May 2007, Mais + Arquitectura, April 2007, Architecture in Netherlands, Yearbook 2006-2007, Shops Limited n.11 summer 2007, Architectuur NL Issue 05/2007, New Trends of Architecture 2006-2007, a + t 28 autumn 2006, Diseno/interior n.168/July 2006, BOUW 08/2006, GA Houses 92 Project 2006, Groundscapes, Ilka and Andreas Ruby, GG 2006, Mark: Another Architecture n.2, Spring 2006, Abitare 459, March 2006, Archi Cree n.324, Feb/March 2006, Gulliver, Feb 2006, A+U 424, Jan 2006, Dialogue: Architecture + Design + Culture n.99, 2006, Winter 2005/2006, Ottagono n.186, Dec/Jan 2005/2006, 10*10-2: 100 Architects 10 Critics, Phaidon 2005, Operative Optimism, Actar 2005, Mies van der Rohe Award 2005 Publication, Actar 2005, Parkeren op Niveau, Thoth 2005, Shop Design, DAAB 2005, Universal Experience: Art, Life & the Tourist’s Eye, 2005, A10 n.6, Nov/Dec 2005, SB n.6, Nov/Dec 2005, Build: Das Architekten-Magazin, 06-2005, Bright05: Tech/Life/Style, Oct/Nov 2005, Reader’s Digest, Oct 2005, De Volkskrant Kunst Bijlage, 25-08-2005, Beaux Arts Magazine, April 2005, Igloo (Habitat & Arhitectură) n.40, April 2005, De Architect, Jan-Feb 2005, SB (Sports Facilities and Swimming Pools) n.1, Jan/Feb 2005, A10 n.1, Dec/Jan 2004/2005, Collidoscope: New Interior Design, Laurence King 2004, Dutch Touch, M. Costanzo, 2004, False Flat, Aaron Betsky, Phaidon 2004, Fresher Facts, NAi Publishers 2004, Greetings from London, The Architecture Foundation 2004, Metamorph: Trajectories, Marsilio 2004, Simply Droog, Droog 2004, Skins for Buildings, BIS 2004, Was getekend: de Architect, Arcam Pocket 2004, Arkitektur: The Swedish Review of Architecture, Nov. 2004, Harvard Design Magazine, Fall/Winter 2004, SPA-DE (Space & Design) n.2, 2004, Spazio 65/22 2004, Pasajes n.52, 2004, Architectuur in Nederland Jaarboek 03 2004, Cool Shops 2004, Indian Architect and Builder, June 2004, Kenchiku Bunka, June 2004, A+U April 2004, Architettura OFX April 2004, Metamorfosi n.48 March 1004, Objects of Desire, Feb 2004, Architettura OFX Feb 2004, ANC Architecture and Culture Feb 2004, Elle n.1 Jan 2004, Geriatric City Publication, Topos Dec 2003, Detail in Architecture, Dec 2003, Interior, Nov 2003, Bouw, Nov, hiCat, Oct 2003, L’architecture d’aujourd’hui, Oct 2003, AD, Aug 2003, De Architect, Aug 2003, Monument, Aug 2003, Amc, July 2003, Asfalto July 2003, Area, June 2003, Postboks, June 2003, Icon, June 2003, Your House Now, June 2003, Detail in Architecture, June 2003, Domus, June 2003, Neo2, May 2003, Negozi, April 2003, Reality Machines, April 2003, Items, March 2003, Monitor n.20 2003, Bauwelt, Jan 2003, The Metapolis Dictionary of Avanced Achitecture, 2003, Factories and office buildings, Arian Mostaedi, LinksInternational 2002, Maru 2002 11. Concept 2002.10, Arch+ 162, Oct 2002, Architektura & Biznes 102002, A+U 383 02:08, Skin: surface, substance, design 2002, International Yearbook 8, 2002, Abitare 417, Maggio 2002, X-knowledge Home vol. 06 June 2002, AMC Fev. 2002, Arch+ 158 Dec 2001, 2A+P dicembre 2001, A+U 01:12 375, 2G n.18 2001, IN-EX 02 Customize, Dec 2001, Carchitecture, AMC Oct. 2001, De Architect sept. 2001, Architectural Record 09 2001, Werk Bauen Wohnen 06 2001, Archis # 3 2001, Artpress 264, Jan 2001, AIT 1+2 2001, Frame, Jan./Feb. 2001, Axis 1+2, Jan./Feb. 2001, Domus 833, Jan. 2001, De Architect, Jan. 2001, Techniques & Architecture 451, Dec./Jan. 2000, Items 6, Dec./Jan. 2000, AMC, Dec. 2000, Items 2 special 2000, Superdutch (Bart Lootsma) 2000, Het Kunstmatig landschap (Hans Ibelings) 2000, Casa Brutus 12, 2000, Lotus 106, Figaro japon 189 2000, Arch+152/153, De Architect juli 2000, l’Architecture d’aujourd’hui 330, oct. 2000, Techniques & Architecture 447, 2000, Taiwan 8, 2000, Axis 9/10, 2000, Wallpaper 31, 2000, Monument 2000, Millenium special issue 2000, Skim.com, Dec. 1999. Spur, Dec. 1999, Monument 33, Dec. 1999, Intelligente Architektur, Nov. 1999, Arquitectura Viva, Nov. 1999, l’Architecture d’aujourd’hui 324 Nov. 1999, Quaderns, Spirals 1999, Arch+ 147, 1999, Architektur Aktuell, July/Augustus 1999, Wired Magazine, Augustus 1999, Interview, June 1999, Yearbook, Architecture in the Netherlands ‘98-’99. De Architect, Mei 1999. Werk, Bauen + Wohnen, April 1999, Frame, March/April 1999, Detail in Architectuur, 1999, Bauwelt 1:1, 1999, AV Monografías 73, 1998, Metropolis The Oracular Issue, 1998, Big Soft Orange Catalogus, 1998, Terra Incognita, catalogue, 1998, L’Arca 132, 1998, L’Arca 129, 1998, L’Arca 128, 1998, Millenium, 1998, Monument, 1998, Quaderns, 1998, Nine+One catalogue, 1997, Arquitectura Viva 54, 1997, Europan IV, European Results, 1997, 1996, Europan IV Nederland, 1996, Arch+ 133, 1996, Topos 15, 1996, Wiederhall 19, 1996
Contract World Award 2007, BasketBar: 2nd Prize in category “Hotels”, Contract World Award 2007, Interpolis: short listed in category “office”, Parteon Architectuurprijs Zaanstreek 2007 (A8ernA), European Prize for Urban Public Space, Joint winner 2006 (A8ernA), Mies van der Rohe Award, 2005 emerging architect special mention (BasketBar), Child Friendly City Award, 2005 (A8ernA), Prix de NAi 2004 (BasketBar), Play and Leisure Award, AIT (WOS 8), 2004, Rietveld Prize 2003 Utrecht, 1st prize (Basketbar) Betonprijs 2003 Honorable Mention (BasketBar), Prix de NAi 2002, nomination (Mandarina Duck), Öko Designpreis der Stadt München (Eco Design prize of the City of Munich) 2002 (WOS 8), Rietveld Prize 1999, nomination (WOS 8), Rotterdam Design Prize 1999, 1st prize (WOS 8), Bauwelt-Sonderpreis, das erste Haus, 1999 (WOS 8), Sofa, Furniture of the Future (Mark Linnemann with Eibert Draisma), 1998, 1st prize, Europan 1996, The Hague, 1st prize (Pixel City), Archiprix 1996, 3rd prize (Parkhouse/Carstadt), Urban villa Hilversum (with Matthijs Bouw, Michiel Snelder), 1993, 2nd prize
Holland-Italy; 10 works of architecture, Rome, Design Week 2007, FAR Architecture Center Shanghai, New Trends of Architecture in Europe and Asia-Pacific 2006-2007, traveling group show, a ‘Royal Exhibition’, Dutch Architecture institute, NAi, Universal Experience, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Hayward gallery London, 2005, Viewmaster, exhibition device to present the work of NL Architects, Oslo School of Architecture, Oslo 2004, Fresher Facts, Exhibition about nominees for AM NAi Prize, 2004, Sign as Surface travelling exhibition, USA, 2003, Fresh Facts, Venice Biennale, 2002, Archilab 3, 2001, NL Lounge, Dutch Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2000, Archilab 2, 2000, Continuiteit en Vernieuwing, Arcam Gallery, November 1999, Desire, Munich, August 1999, Rietveld prize exhibition, June/November 1999, Ceramists, Designers and Architects for Cor Unum, Gallery Binnen Amsterdam, June/July 1999, Rotterdam Design price, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam, 1999, Big Soft Orange, traveling exhibition USA, 1998/99, The Art of Dwelling, Gouda 1998, Nine+One traveling exhibition, NAi, 1999, Oslo, 1999, Tunis, November 1998, Nagelen, November 1998, Hamburg, October 1998, Milan, June 1998, Edinburgh, Mai 1998, Los Angeles, March 1998, Vienna, January 1998, Biennial São Paulo, November 1997, Nine+One ‘NL Architects solo’, NAi Rotterdam, August 1997, Europan IV, NAi Rotterdam1996, Der Anti-Territoriale Stadtebau, Graz Austria 1996.