You know their name and you know their architecture. But how much do you actually know about the people behind the architectural practice UNStudio?
In this iteration of the Proust Questionnaire, our new series profiling leading figures in architecture, we speak with Ben van Berkel, the Utrecht-born, award-winning architect. Like with our other Proust Questionnaires, the questions are a bit unusual for an architecture interview, oriented around the personal more than the professional.
Who is your favorite living architect?
Mark Wigley. To me he is the best mirror for architects today.
Who is your favorite dead architect?
How would you describe the personality of your practice?
Open, intelligent, collaborative, always looking ahead.
What is your practice’s main weakness?
Underestimating our current position.
What is the trait that you appreciate most in a building?
Performance on all levels: spatial organization, sustainability, health. Buildings that do not merely present a powerful image, but that instead generate powerful after images.
What is the trait that you deplore most in a building?
Bad details: lack of attention to refining the craft.
What is the trait that you most appreciate in an architect?
Imagination, vision, all-round knowledge about the practice and the profession.
What is the trait that you most deplore in an architect?
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
This is not connected to any specific typology, but always to the people I work for: to clients who are open to constructive criticism and with whom you can therefore develop a real collaboration.
What does architectural happiness mean?
Alain de Botton described this very well in ‘The Happiness of Architecture’.
What does architectural misery mean?
When the architecture doesn’t resonate. When there is no music.
Where would you most like to build (where you haven’t already)?
What is your favorite color?
Somewhere between green and orange.
What is your favorite flower?
Bougainvillea. Because it flowers all year round.
What is your favorite bird?
Who is your favorite poet?
Who is your favorite artist?
When do you lie?
I prefer not to.
What talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to get my thoughts down on paper clearly and concisely at the first attempt.
What architectural strategies do you most overuse?
I prefer to constantly reinvent.
How would you like to die?
Ask me again in 20 years.
Writer and fake architect, among other feints. Principal at Adjustments Agency. Co-founder of Encyclopedia Inc. Get in touch: email@example.com