Between 1910 and 1930 the Amsterdam School arose as a style of architecture in The Netherlands as part of the International Expressionist movement. Even today some Amsterdam neighbourhoods, such as the Spaarndammerbuurt and De Baarsjes, are stunning examples of urban design in this architectural style. Over the last year Studio Refill has been involved in refurbishment projects in both neighbourhoods. We worked on design proposals for two community buildings, that need to be made future proof with respect to their heritage status. Actually, though we always liked Amsterdam School architecture, we are devotees now. Its just amazing how good architecture can affect the way we feel when walking around. As J. Reader once said: “We shape the city… and than it shapes us…”
What happens when 17th century meets 21st? That was something we had to think about, when we were asked one year ago, to come up with a conceptual design for the complete refurbishment of a 17th century church. The building itself hasn’t been used for quite some time, apart from classical music concerts and expositions on a regular base. However, the building has much more potential. In cooperation with two social entrepreneurs, we worked on a conceptual strategy for a mixed-use commercial as well as social programme. With some minimal interventions, it must be possible to prepare the building to facilitate the new functions. Respecting its heritage qualities, these interventions can give the building a new and vital life for the rest of this 21st century.
It was so good to be back in Hongkong over Christmas. It felt very much like we had been away for a long holiday and came home. Very weird. Of course we spent a lot of time with friends but we also had the chance to see some projects we worked on the past year like this City Square logo and a MTR-ad at Wan Chai (exit A5 and A1/2). Hopefully 2016 will continue to bring projects and reasons to come back.
Although this is only a mini-mini-interview I conducted for One World Magazine (november 2015), I do want to share it with you anyway. Why? Because it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce Manya Koetse and her super cool website whatsonweibo.com. She is a fascinating Sinologist and editor, providing cultural, historical and political insights into trending topics on China’s social media.
The first time I heard her speak was in a panel discussion on women’s rights in China and I thought she was by far the most interesting person on stage. While the others were talking in general about issues, she used all kinds of examples and little stories to illustrate her point.
Show, don’t tell… totally my cup of tea!
A couple of weeks ago I did a lecture at Pakhuis de Zwijger about how Taobao-entrepeneurs transform rural area’s. The talk was embedded in a super fascinating bigger program on social innovation in China.
During the event different aspects were highlighted of a society and economy shifting from imitation to innovation. Starting with the typical Chinese phenomenon of Shanzhai (‘Sunbucks Coffee’, ‘Dolce&Banana’, ‘Blockberry’ or ‘Phone 6’), we looked at its great potential for social innovation. I learned a lot from my fellow lecturers Liu Yan and Tvi Vinig. It was great to be part of this.
Don’t you agree that autumn in the Netherlands has been lovely so far? The colours of the trees were amazing. The Vondelpark in Amsterdam looked like it was on fire constantly. Walks in the park inspired the new series of ads for HKWJ/Triple Eight. Orange is the new black:)!
If you want to dive into HK’s housing problems and enjoy a holiday at the same time, this piece is a must-read. Inge Goudsmit and I collected Airbnb places in Hong Kong that will tell you everything about the city’s housing history and challenges. You’ll find the article here on Archined. Some other work from this summer: An article for FD on why modern slavery is still a driving force in our economy, written with Kathleen Ferrier and a column about why downloading the app ‘I’m getting arrested’ can be considered a political act in China. I’m making new research plans for the coming months… any interesting leads or ideas? Let me know.