There has always been a lively discussion among architects about form and style. What do we actually want to achieve through architecture? For sure, we want liveable cities. We want functional and flexible spaces, indoors as well as outdoors. Some of us want to live comfortably, some of us are content with limited space and rent.
Recently, though, we’ve also started demanding that buildings generate energy and contribute to a better environment. Within these functional and more or less obligatory programme demands I think we should also stay focused on the social aspect of our built environment. Sheltered space for living and working, space for indoor and outdoor social interaction, all of this within a scale we feel comfortable with. Within an architectural style recognizable in its form, function and climate. For everybody.
Of course some architects and philosophers hold a rather grim view of the future. Rem Koolhaas describes the 'Generic City' in his brilliant book SMXXL. Lieven de Cauter is not too cheerful about our desire to meet each other in the public domain in his book 'the Capsular Civilization'. It is true, in public spaces nowadays we do tend to stare more at our mobile phones than connect with the people around us. And yes, in recent decades the 'generic city' has unfolded right before our eyes. I say: "We might not want too much of this."
So streets, neighbourhoods and sometimes entire districts are vulnerable when architectural disintegration leads to the kind of buildings that contribute to the deconstruction of the essence and atmosphere of a particular street or neighbourhood. This eventually undermines our sense of belonging. There are also brilliant examples in which new built environments enhance cities in terms of form, function and architecture. New, modern construction is however not always the solution. My work is the outcome of this insight. I have been preserving and reconstructing places in desperate need of repair.