Discover Benelux | Top Architects in the Netherlands | Creating Quality of Life
Innovation as the key to urban solutions TEXT: EVA MENGER | PHOTOS: ABHIJIT MANDREKAR
Dutch architectural lab ArchSpace-M may be many things, but it is an innovation factory most of all. From urban planning to landscape architecture and interior design: whatever the challenge, founder Abhijit Mandrekar and his experienced, forward-thinking team have been coming up with impressive solutions ever since they started in 2003. Mandrekar: “We always bring something new to the table. When Kerkrade came to us for a solution to their lack of public space, we turned the concept of urban planning upside down. Whereas public spaces are usually designed for leftover pieces of land, we made it our first priority. Only after the allocation of public space did we start thinking about ways in which buildings could also be incorporated.” Another example is the motorway office complex near Roermond. How do you make such office blocks desirable, let alone turn
them into eye-catching landmarks? Solution: change the context. “We start building below ground level to add space, but we’ve also designed a rooftop car park so that the ground floor – the most expensive level – is not just taken up by cars. This also means that traffic has to pass through the building, making for seamless integration of statics and dynamics,” Mandrekar explains. And then there is the invisible house – one of Archspace-M’s latest and perhaps most magical projects. “When building in a beautiful, luscious forest, it’s a crime to not let that environment play a central role in the architecture,” says Mandrekar. “Only using timber and transparent glass has multiple benefits: while the wood means that we don’t have to waste any cut-down trees, the glass is transparent only when there is a light source behind it. What this means is that during the day when the sun shines – when outside light is at its brightest – the house becomes invisible.”
The office building rooftop car park.
The invisible house.
International architecture with a Mediterranean soul TEXT: SILKE HENKELE | PHOTOS: JA ARQUITECTURA
The planning and design of new buildings involves a great deal of creative thinking. Rotterdam-based JA arquitectura gives some insights into this and more. “I do not conceive building plans by JA arquitectura as mere architectural designs,” stresses Joan Alomar, the founder of JA arquitectura. “I rather see them as the product of a thorough, creative process.” Alomar divides his time between his offices in Rotterdam and the Balearic Islands − a fact that strongly influences the overarching feel of his designs. “The relationship between these two places is perfectly reflected in my work,” Alomar says. “My designs contain a variety of distinctive features. I study, for example, the traditions of the respective location and its surroundings. To this, I add my personal knowledge and inter82 | Issue 60 | December 2018
national experience – thus molding a variety of information into one comprehensive design.” The characteristics of JA arquitectura’s architectural designs are widely recognised, and one of Alomar’s latest designs has recently won a prestigious competition. “I am really proud of the fact that JA arquitectura is going to create a multifunctional roof on the building
of the Maassilo, an icon of the Dutch industrial past. I am really looking forward to seeing the public fully embrace the particularity of these premises and to enjoy their time on top of this spectacular building.” Web: www.jaarquitectura.com
LEFT: View of the access patio of the 24 dwellings in Ibiza, Spain. RIGHT: Event deck and skygarden on the 40-metre-high roof of the Maassilo building, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
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