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Video Series: Six Lessons from Six Leading Dutch Designers

There's something special about architecture in The Netherlands. From MVRDV's iconic Markthal in Rotterdam to WAM's whimsically stacked Inntel Hotel in Zaandam, for years Dutch design has questioned accepted architectural norms. The country has long been considered a leader in design, catalyzed in part by The Netherlands' famous architectural trailblazer Rem Koolhaas. Since 1975 Koolhaas' Rotterdam-based firm OMA has realized dozens of unorthodox designs and has been linked with the creation of more than forty major architecture practices worldwide.

In 2000 Bart Lootsma released Superdutch, a bestselling opus on the mythology of Dutch architecture and its thought leaders, which provided a glimpse into the enduring humanist approach to design that has earned global praise for the country's architects. In the book, Lootsma profiled a handful of Dutch firms including UNStudio, West 8 and MVRDV. Fifteen years later, students from Canada's Simon Fraser University formed a collective called Groep Drie to continue the conversation. From Herman Hertzberger to Ben van Berkel, Groep Drie sat down with The Netherlands' most innovative designers to talk urbanism, spiritualism, color, and more.

Read on to find out what The Netherlands' leading architects had to say.

UNStudio's Ben van Berkel on Designing High-Rise for Central London

In the latest episode of Monocle's Section D, Josh Fehnert talks to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal of Amsterdam-based UNStudio, about London's new Caneletto residential tower. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museumin Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK. The tower, located at the confluence of two London districts — Islington and Shoreditch — marks a significant moment for the Dutch practice's œuvre.

UNStudio Brings Interactive Exhibit to Munich: Motion Matters 4.0

The evening of October 6th marks the grand opening of UNStudio's new exhibit, Motion Matters 4.0 at the Architektur Galerie in Munich. The opening ceremonies will coincide with the first day of the Expo Real International Trade Fair for Property and Investment and include a welcome speech by the Dutch Consul General Peter Vermeij, followed by an introductory talk about the exhibit from UNStudio co-founder and principal Ben van Berkel.

UNStudio Appointed to Create Identity for Qatar's New Metro Network

Aiming to encourage the use of public transportation as a valid alternative to private transportation, Qatar Rail has appointed UNStudio to design the stations for the first phase of the Greater Doha Metro Network, part of the Qatar Integrated Railway Project (QIRP). With the first phase consisting of 30 stations on 4 metro lines, UNStudio has created an "Architectural Branding Manual," a set of design guidelines, architectural details and material outlines which will be used by the design & build firms on each station to ensure the design quality and coherence of the network as a whole.

© Methanoia © Methanoia © Methanoia © Methanoia

AD Interviews: Ben van Berkel, UNStudio on London's Canaletto Tower

Ben van Berkel. Image © Inga Powilleit
Ben van Berkel. Image © Inga Powilleit

ArchDaily recently spoke to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect at UNStudio, an international network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure based in the Netherlands. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK.

UNStudio Envisions Giant Observation Wheel in Japan

Consider a social-networking experience that combines real-time amusement with an awareness of your surroundings. Dutch architecture firm, UNStudio, together with Ferris Wheel Investment of Japan, have laid out a colossal vision that expects to attract millions of visitors to a mixed-use retail, food and beverage center anchored by an architecturally-iconic observation wheel, Nippon Moon. The concept utilizes a user's smart phone or tablet, extending the rider's experience far beyond the moment they physically enter one of the 32 single or double-decker capsules.

Haus am Weinberg / UNStudio

© UNStudio. Photography by Iwan Baan.
© UNStudio. Photography by Iwan Baan.

Our friends from UNStudio shared their latest completed residential project, a villa nestled on the outskirts of Stuttgart that offers amazing vistas over country vineyards which are juxtaposed with cityscape panoramas.   The sinuous curves of Haus am Weinberg are governed by the idea of creating a “twist” which organizes the programmatic flow of the residence. Ben van Berkel explained, “The Haus am Weinberg adopts a stereovisual spatial effect, acting almost as an optical instrument, whereby not a parallax view, but a parallax experience is created. Moments of parity with the surrounding landscape from inside the house form a constant experiential connection and awareness of its immediate context.”

More after the break, including a great photography set by Iwan Baan.

Kutaisi Airport / UNStudio

© UNStudio
© UNStudio

We are continually impressed by the variety of projects from UNStudio’s office.  The firm just unveiled a new vertical city highrise for Singapore previously featured on AD, and recently, the Dutch studio’s international air terminal and traffic control tower for Kutaisi was officially presented by Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia.  The country is growing quickly and changing rapidly, with new tourist and economic activity, plus different political developments.  As such, the design for the new airport seeks to showcase Georgia new identity by providing a contemporary gateway to the country.

More about the airport after the break.