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AD Interviews: Maurice Nio

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© Courtesy of Maurice Nio
© Courtesy of Maurice Nio

In the Dutch architectural scene, beside the famous offices and well known practices, there is a list of young architects which catch the attention of the critics because of their outstanding conceptual approach and realized works. Maurice Nio is one of the most interesting architects of his generation. During an interview with him, we analyzed some of his works, regarding conceptual meaning, architectural aspects, and realized results.

His interest in cinema, writings and “contemporary sub-culture” have been evident since his final project at TU Delft – a house for Michael Jackson. Mixing up and recalling other fields than architecture is a constant mark in his works. Not only in naming the projects. The Cyclops.

Approaching this two levels houses in Hilversum without knowing anything about the project, we are surprised by a set of hanging “blades” with one only eye, coming out of a set-back wall. It seems to perceive the movement of a mechanism. The houses look so technically dry because “the whole project was born out of a sound barrier: the urban developer decided to sell the plots in front of it, and the houses show and bring the technicality of the barrier to the neighborhood, instead of hiding or denying it”. Therefore the final image of the houses, which have been studied in terms of space, function, green areas and accessibility, is a repetition of cantilevered metal blades, sharp cutted off, on a brick basement facing the gardens. The setting is not far from the typical row-houses of The Netherlands, but the difference in terms of language and expressivity is remarkable.

© Courtesy of Maurice Nio
© Courtesy of Maurice Nio

David and the Hulk

© Courtesy of Maurice Nio
© Courtesy of Maurice Nio

The imaginary of other mythical worlds is even more evident in this huge waste burning station in Hengelo. The buildings show what force is behind them, and in this sense “the architecture tells a story, it is the result of the visible power of the story”. First comes the Hulk: a green gigantic machine that through its materials, dimensions and wings recalls an animal which is digesting its food. Then comes the extension, David, a prolongated wing which houses the offices, facing and completing the gigantic machine. Connecting different worlds is the way in which these fabrics let people fuel their imagination. This brings to different interpretations and suggestions, which go in various directions, but here is the importance of a “stimulating” architecture.

Touch of Evil

© Courtesy of Maurice Nio
© Courtesy of Maurice Nio

The project was conceived by the thought about filling the “technical spaces” of our cities with life expression, the “soulless with a soul”. This underpass shows something unexpected: a vivid red stain, three-dimensionally modeled, on the bottom side of the bridge, running from one side to the other, touching different surfaces. “The aim is to make an inhuman form of life visible in a usually anonymous tunnel”. A Touch of Evil, which brings imagination to different fields than the reality of a simple passage under the bridge.

Sensing the Waves

© Courtesy of Maurice Nio
© Courtesy of Maurice Nio

The Pecci Museum in Prato, Italy, has been object of a competition for the extension and renewal of the existing fabrics. Nio Architecten won the competition “with a project that was already there”: the guidelines of the garden around the complex were lifted to the first level, since the original Museum is also lifted. “Making a gentle ring to the existing, the extension declares its presence, shows the entrance, makes complete the circulation inside”. Yet again, a single, monochromatic element suggests the presence of a new body, which embraces and completes the existing. The position of the Pecci Museum is also relevant, being a sort of a gate to the city. The copper colored wing and its lifted arm are recognized by the inhabitants as a new life breath in the surrounding area.

Touch of Evil_Interarea tunnel in Pijnacker

address: VINEX location Tolhek, Pijnacker, HOLLAND design: NIO architecten client: Gemeente Pijnacker-Nootdorp contractor: Dura Vermeer (Dubbers-Malden) structural engineer: DHV/IBZH & Holland Railconsult start design: 2002 completion: 2004 costs: € 3.600.000 (10% is spend on architectonical finishing) Photographs: Hans Pattist

Sensing the waves_Museum for contemporary art Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy

address: Viale della Repubblica 277, Prato, ITALY design: NIO architecten client: Mrs. E. Pecci/Municipality of Prato constructural engineer: Ingenieursbureau Zonneveld start design: 2006 completion: 2009 building costs: € 7.800.000

The Hulk_Waste incineration plant in Hengelo

address: Boldershoekweg 51, Hengelo, HOLLAND design: BDG Architekten Ingenieurs client: aviTwente bv contractor: BAM/Bredero structural engineer: BDG Architekten Ingenieurs start design: 1993 completion: 1997 costs: € 270.000.000 (installations included) Photographs: Hans Pattist, Peter Venema

The Cyclops_12 soundbarrier houses in Diependaal, Hilversum

address: Charley Tooropstraat, Hilversum, HOLLAND design: VHP s+a+l/NIO architecten client: Slokker Vastgoed bv contractor: Slokker Bouwgroep bv structural engineer: Adviesbureau Steens start design: 1997 completion: 2001 costs: 1.495.450,00 euro Photographs: Andrew Thorlow, Rob Ponsen

Cite:Andrea Giannotti. "AD Interviews: Maurice Nio" 27 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>