Peter van der Gugten
general director Proper-Stok Groep
and co-founder Nu de Stad!

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

Raised in the district of Lombok, Utrecht, in a educational family. I witnessed the contradiction of living in a real working class area and the realization of Hoog Catharijne from up close. This was followed by studying Architecture in Delft, where design was accompanied by the social task. The social task was something I couldn't get enough of.

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

Occurred during my engineering studies. Heavy evening sessions at the dorm. Applying ideas and opinions as director of housing, 'Maatschappij voor Volkswoningen' (now 'Woonstad') in Rotterdam. At a young age I was already confronted with linking the social consequences (read urban renewal). Always believed, and still do, in the ability to create a better society through architecture and urbanism, offering new perspectives for old districts.

3. Best city

Remains Rotterdam. A kind of love for this city with all its problems, but also its challenges. Hard and tough but still malleable. Somehow, it has to be possible to create a great city of Rotterdam for the future. The only metropolis in the Netherlands where there is room for innovation and urbanization.

4. Most beautiful building

Beauty is an emotion. What does a building do with people. How people function in a building and what does the building do with the environment. In that respect I think the development of the 'Brede School' 'De Wereld op Zuid' is a tremendous development. The multiplicity of functions combined in a 24-hour building (so to speak). Absorb, learn, meet, educate, undertake, sports, et cetera. Great icon and perspective effect for the residents of a distressed area basically the 'Afrikaanderwijk'.

5. Most beautiful park or square

The public space will determine the quality of the city. The quality of the design for me is measured by using such a public space. The room is not anonymous but ours. I think that the most beautiful public places are those where people gather to celebrate or to meet. As such, my favorites are Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh and Tahrir square in Cairo. The ultimate encounter.

6. Best public facility /
urban infill

The effect of public space is important to me. 'Roombeek Enschede' is a fine example of reconstruction on a whole new level. The 'Van Heekplein' in the center of Enschede demonstrates courage of a community, against the market, but with a huge boost for the city.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

Ultimately communication tools. Becoming ever faster and more direct. This in time will change the world. Sharing knowledge about the world and emancipation. Even the poorest of this earth are in contact with the world.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

In the short term a totally different way of urban development. Bottom-up initiatives through active communication between citizens and entrepreneurs. The city as the inspiration for ideas from around the world. Philistinism will disappear once and for all.

9. About the future of cities

Meeting people is the basis of our existence. Mutual influence and learning from each other to develop new things. The cities must be places to meet and give incentives to continuously pursue innovation. The city as the center of emancipation.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

Ultimately it's the realization of the right environmental incentive. And this is still manufacturable. I would like to facilitate challenging developments. But now this must be coming from below. I would like to work on new opportunities for existing urban areas or even entire cities. For years I worked on 'Spangen' and 'Katendrecht' in Rotterdam, but also the 'Chassé Park' in Breda.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Daring to contribute to ideas that groups of people have. No high-profile master plans but simple interventions. Make exciting cities, dare to act and dare to enter coalitions with citizens.