April 15, 2021

How to say Forum Groningen in sign language?

Stichting Clubhuis voor Doven organized a contest to find a fitting gesture. The brilliant proposal of Leonie Bloem takes the V-shapes for ‘view’ and for ‘reading’ and combines them with the gesticulation for ‘meeting’ into one meaningful and crystal clear expression: a manual x-ray of the Forum.

At the same time the name gesture seems to paraphrase the hip hop classic east side – west side : )

Of course it should be included in Bouwspraak


April 13, 2021

“The whole earth was of one language and of one speech”.

They said one to another, “Come, let’s make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” They said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let’s make ourselves a name.”

A new language has been invented: a language for building sites, a sign language, a universal language.

Two developments sparked the desire for a new mode of communication:

The noise on construction sites increasingly calls for protective ear-wear. This makes verbal exchange even more difficult.

At the same time the number of nationalities involved in the building process has been steadily growing. At least 10 different languages could be heard on the construction site of Forum Groningen, for instance. How to exchange information? How to build?

Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. Yahweh said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Interestingly the industry that is responsible for that very Babylonian Confusion of Tongues now presents the unifying solution: the Esperanto of non-verbal communication: Bouwspraak!

All that glitters is not gold

October 22, 2020

After decades of lucrative extraction of natural gas, the province of Groningen now suffers from frequent tremors with devastating effect.

But an article in Nature headlines that EARTHQUAKES MAKE GOLD VEINS IN AN INSTANT. That would be something! Earthquakes as potential cash cow? Payback for Grunn? From black gold to real GOLD?

This striking photo by Peter Wiersema reveals the essence of the Forum: the public realm of the city lights up like a gold vein and extends into the building, winding all the way up to the roof as a geological marvel.

This could serve as a metaphor: social capital as the most valuable commodity.

Kleiburg Mutations

October 20, 2020

Kleiburg Mutations is an attempt to visualize the immense variety of individual choices of the new inhabitants of the Kleiburg estate to customize their homes.

Kleiburg Mutations maps the seemingly endless range of modifications -some big, some small- of the ideal cell as conceived by Fop Ottenhof in 1974.

Kleiburg Mutations shows the permutations of the two main unit types: a dynamic sequence of the varying positions of rooms, kitchens and bathrooms including the types and positions of facade elements as far as we could track them down (not all information is available, so some units remain a mystery: )

Click GIF to enlarge

Public Space: vocalize your rights

October 1, 2020

The roof of Forum Groningen proofs to be ‘public space’: the square on top has been occupied by the Youth Orchestra to protest against budget cuts!

“Public spaces have often been valorized as democratic spaces of congregation and political participation, where groups can vocalize their rights”. Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 549. (Wikipedia)
Image: Phillip Pruim @oogtv
#publicspace #publicsquare #rooftop #kulturgebirge

Glocken Spiel

September 18, 2020
In the framework of the renovation of the space under the elevated highway A8 in Koog aan de Zaan several art projects were proposed. Glocken Spiel was not executed at the time. But why not?
It can still be implemented. The Highway A8 was build right through the heart of town separating Church and City Hall in an absolutely radical way. Since the revitalization was about ‘connection and separation’ (as was the original viaduct: ) the attempt was to establish a new relationship between the freeway and the church. About 3000 cars pass every hour. If we place a sensor on the road counting the vehicles and hook it up with the steeple, the church bells could ring according to the traffic intensity. An acoustic signal after every 1000 cars passed. This would enable a new sense of time. Pulsating with the rhythm of congestion.
With @vincentringoir


Living with the machines

June 30, 2020

Market forces squeeze the air out of any floorplan. At the same time spatial requirements for technical installations are expanding, mainly due to considerations about sustainability. Extrapolation of this process of contraction on the hand and expansion on the other eventually forces the living room to fully coincide with the machine room.


Good IDEA for the AMC

April 19, 2019




The AMC, the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, is the largest hospital of The Netherlands. And one of the biggest buildings in the country.

The AMC was designed by Architectenburo Duintjer Istha Kramer van Willegen in collaboration with ir. D van Mourik and opened in 1981. Now the facades are up for renovation. What to do with the immense surface?

The AMC was conceived as a city, the volumes build an intricate sequence of interior streets and squares that are all day lit. This Cité Médicale provides a remarkably pleasant experience for both patients, medical staff, students and visitors.

The AMC in principle consists of two spatial types; six so-called beddenhuizen, interconnected tower blocks with the rooms for the patients rest on an extensive low rise base with the operation rooms, research facilities, public spaces and services.

Both facades consist of horizontal concrete bands alternated with strips of glass or corrugated steel plates. The four story base features characteristic window cleaning galleries resting on protruding consoles that together render a sculptural expression. Brut is beautiful : )

The spatial organization of the AMC is incredibly innovative. The building features a rather amazing section: in the low rise pedestal so-called sub-floors, floors that contain the necessary installations, intersect the regular floors. So one floor with medical rooms is followed by a floor dedicated to the technical facilities! This principle allows maintenance and adaptation of the ducting over time without jeopardizing the operations below.

The ‘interstitials’ are quite perceptible. On the outside, the sub-floors are obscured by corrugated steel plate. Can we replace this opaque cladding with glass panels?

Opening up the technical floors will bring to the fore the hidden beauty of the AMC: exposing the intricate insides like the Anatomy Lesson.

Some sort of ‘sandwiched’ Centre Pompidou could come into being that would reveal the brute intelligence of this structure.


April 16, 2019

The city of Zandvoort aspires to bring back the Formula 1 to its gorgeous circuit by 2020.

The municipal council of the car crazy coastal city unanimously voted in favor of investing 4 million euros into returning the Grandprix to the Netherlands. reports.

GroenLinks (the green party) added an amendment stipulating that the return of the Grand Prix must be done as sustainably as possible. A narrow majority adopted this amendment : )

The elegant curves of the race track formed the basis for our project Circuit City in 2002.

Circuit City


Street Races are immensely popular. The illegal races are generally held in peripheral business districts and warehouse areas.

While designing these ‘Business Parks’ it might be a good idea to consider the activities that normally are just a derivative of the real function in an early stage. The hypothesis is that a reciprocal relation between both types of use could come into being: a situation of mutual benefit.

Circuit City optimizes the infrastructure for new Business Areas for driving fast. In the weekends and evenings ‘illegal’ races can take place. And during the day the circuit is a wonderful driveway along which you can park. Official races can be organized that will have a positive effect on the surrounding corporations: the glamour that comes with motorsports will reinforce the ‘dynamic character’ of the entire district, real estate values will go up. Identity, fundamentally lacking from this type of generic environment, can be derived from the additional function: infrastructure becomes Logo”.

More here:

Remote Controlled Trash Bin

February 5, 2019


Our Remote Controlled Trash Bin now has a more intelligent follow up: the Smart Trash Can.

Where our trash bin, that was built in the early nineties (and is now pretty much trashed), still depended on human skill and dexterity in handling the joystick, the new invention deploys sensors and a PC to calculate where your waste will fall and autonomously moves to catch it!

Trashcan catches trash