Ole Bouman
Director Netherlands
Architecture Institute (NAi)

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

I graduated, also, as an archaeologist. Even though I don't practice this profession literally, searching the indestructible in our culture will last my whole life.

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

The ultimate in human achievement. You need a combination of properties usually requiring inconsistent: wishes for the future and patience, being opinionated and having great listening skills, sense of beauty and a pragmatic spirit. If you look at it, these properties give a stab at the impossible and yet consistently shows that it is possible.

3. Best city

Kabul, Afghanistan. Rarely seen a city where life is so imperturbable and hasn't been fased by all the plans that regime after regime has pulled out of the drawer. You almost feel sorry for the power because of its futility.

4. Most beautiful building

The Parthenon in Athens. Essence of our continental culture that at the same time is a beautiful picture.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Red Square. Especially with the plane of Mathias Rust above it. How public can you make a public space?

6. Best public facility /
urban infill

Plan South devised by H.P. Berlage. I do not know if it really is the strongest urban plan -but that put aside- here, the Netherlands, really produced the best it has to offer.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Mass housing as a subject for architecture. This leap in ambition has undoubtedly led to a higher average in happiness. Millions of people finally had time to deal with things they never had time for before due to the daily drudgery of their living conditions. In this century we will have to wait and see if we will be so lucky to experience such freedom.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Just happens to be in full swing: Augmented Reality. To own what once was, what will be, what might have been, what should be ...

9. About the future of cities

That's a good one.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

Public contribution is of course performing a public function. Personally, I think of the annual tax payments. If I think of a good cause for that money, earned through hard work, I think of the public domain: the beautiful and well designed, creating, maintaining and protecting our collective living space. The cities with their public buildings but also our landscapes, infrastructure, and nature. All these matters are now under pressure, except I presume, tax rates.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Best experience was a taxi safari in Mexico, where we held a conference while driving with portofoon-radio's. Everyone was allowed to maneuver the caravan to their favorite urban market to show what the quality was. Another memorable moment was the 'waiting queue' between Ramallah and Jerusalem to discuss the meaningful use of time imaginable for the hours lost on a daily basis with the wait at the checkpoint. Has your enemy seized your space, there appears to be huge profit booking in domain of time.