The Formal Muscle


Until members of the next generation came to dispute his title, Ben van Berkel (1957) was the enfant terrible of Dutch Architecture. He studied at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and at the Architectural Association in London, and worked in the offices of Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava before opening his own studio in Amsterdam with the art historian Caroline Bos (1959). Their projects very soon began to be discussed in academic forums and avant garde magazines. The theoretical aspect of the practice is demonstrated in the books Delinquent Visionaries (1993) and Mobile Forces (1994) and its style of production is illustrated by diagrams which join the systematic with the intuitive, and are inextricably linked to the use of digital technology. If in the way they take shape the projects are related to Peter Eisenman or Bernard Tschumi, their potency once realised is much more related to the expressionist formalism of Calatrava. One of the latest finished projects is the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, but the partnership has also built the Villa Wilbrink (see Arquitectura Viva 44), the Dutch pavillion at the Triennale di Milano (1996), the Rijksmuseum extension in Twente (see Arquitectura Viva 54) and the Moebius House in Het Gooi. On their 10th anniversary Van Berkel en Bos Architectuurbureau is expanding and will be called UN studio Van Berkel en Bos, thus further diversifying the process and the people involved in the design and construction of their projects...[+]

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