Discover Benelux, Issue 42, June 2017

Page 16

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands   |  Creating Quality of Life

Academy, Heist op den Berg. Photo: NOAHH

Drawing people together TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: NOAHH

Driven by the ambition to meet the challenges of an ever-changing society, NOAHH – Network Oriented Architecture explores a network-based approach to deal with the embedded nature of the building tradition and the unexpected factors of the architectural and urban processes. Continuously keeping the social aspects of architecture and urbanism at heart, the Amsterdam-based firm prides itself on taking on complex plans within a wide range of typologies. Discover Benelux talks to founder Patrick Fransen about the importance of a social urban environment, architecture as pragmatism, and the architect’s constant gaze into the future.

voliVredenburg in Utrecht and the future OCC – Education and Cultural Cluster in The Hague, this all-round firm specialises in complex projects with a wide range of programmes and typologies in service of cultural, educational, commercial, residential and industrial buildings: from large scales of urban design planning to detailed custom-made interior design projects. Patrick Fransen, who has built his architectural experience over the past 25 years next to Herman Hertzberger, founded NOAHH in 2014. NOAHH explores a fresh way of working in the field of architecture based on a network-oriented attitude. Surrounded by a young, international team of designers and technical experts, the firm works in several countries in Europe.

The core of NOAHH’s approach is to create buildings that stimulate social encounters in open spaces that enable people to meet and connect. Renowned for iconic buildings such as the Music Centre Ti-

A binding factor

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“A building’s worst scenario? A space that divides everyone into separate rooms,” Fransen begins. “Architecture should contribute to better societies, in which

stimulating and social environments are essential.” An important theme in NOAHH’s work is to create possibilities in which the public space turns into a social space for encounter and exchange. “Simply by engaging in discussion with our clients and partners, we reach new typologies and together find the best solution.” The previous statement is reflected by two of NOAHH’s recent projects: the re-use and extension of the Academy Heist-op-den-Berg and the European Space Agency (ESA) meeting facility at its ESTEC centre in the Netherlands. By creating a large patio and connecting it to a circulation corridor, NOAHH bound the whole ensemble of the academy together, providing a good relation between the different departments. “This design decision only arose after extensive discussion. It was not part of the original – almost closed