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Reinier de Graaf

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Neufert: The Exceptional Pursuit of the Norm

In this excerpt from Reinier de Graaf's new book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession (Harvard University Press), the all-pervasive work and pedagogical practice of Ernst Neufert is put under the spotlight. Was he an architect, a teacher, or something larger than both? In examining Neufert's ardent pursuit of the "norm", De Graaf sheds light on the impact and enduring legacy of the author of Architect’s Data.

His built output—a few industrial complexes, some housing projects, and the Quelle Mail Order headquarters in Nuremberg—is not much to speak of, but his name is known to every practicing architect: Ernst Neufert, author of Architect’s Data, more commonly referred to as Neufert. [1] If the importance of an architect equals the extent to which his work lives on in others, Neufert is the most important of the twentieth century. There is probably no architect who has not used Neufert, whether as a didactic tool or as a volume of references. It contains all the necessary information to design and execute works of architecture. Neufert is enduringly popular. As of 2016, it is in its forty-first German edition, has been translated into seventeen languages, and has sold over 500,000 copies. [2] 

Ulterior Motives: OMA/AMO's Reinier de Graaf on "Research," Europe and the 2014 Venice Biennale

The following interview with Reinier De Graaf was first published by Volume Magazine in their 48th issue, The Research Turn. You can read the Editorial of this issue, Research Horizons, here.

Architectural practice requires a degree of intimacy and insight into complex sets of forces. While building is architecture’s bread and butter, it’s not always the best format to make a statement. It’s sometimes not even the most appropriate language to respond to a brief. Volume spoke with Reinier de Graaf of OMA/AMO about how research and media can become a vessel for political agendas.

Reinier de Graaf: Mayors Should Not Rule The World

This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for mayors from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over cities with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.

It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.

I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.

So far so good.