Jago van Bergen
architect and partner van Bergen Kolpa Architecten

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

I was born in the polders of South-Holland and raised in the forests of North-Brabant. My parents, landscape architect and ceramist, gave me spatial insight and a material feeling. The first ten years I worked with Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk and in the mid-nineties I lived and worked in New York City. Now I live with my family in Rotterdam, where I have established, since 2000 together with Evert Kolpa, our office van Bergen Kolpa Architecten.

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

I like to have overview. With architecture and urban planning you are able to place your surroundings in a larger context: see the growth processes and the relationship with natural resources and landscapes.

3. Best city

Depends on the moment: a medium sized city as Breda is a wonderful place to grow up. Manhattan was perfect for me in my turbulent twenties. Rotterdam is good for starting entrepreneurs. But recently I was in Bangkok, Thailand: a natural metropolis interwoven with its environment amidst the rice fields. The streets are public restaurants, the residential buildings are public gardens and the waterways are floating food markets. According to the lists Helsinki is the best.

4. Most beautiful building

There are many typologies: The monastery of Alcobaça is a fantastic medieval maze of interiors and gardens. A small stream flows through the kitchen! Furthermore, all mercados municipales (public market halls), but definitely the one in Sao Paulo, a monumental two-tiered food city. And the Kunsthal in Rotterdam: a dynamic integration of landscape and city in a building where you can cycle through.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Plaza Mayor in Madrid. My family lives there at house number 1. It is a square and at the same time a market, a huge open kitchen and Zarzuela theatre.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

The transformation of the High Line in NY into a public park. We are working with residents and the city on the area around the Rotterdam version, Hofpleinline, so the stakes are high!

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

The continuous innovation in the garden town. First top down, now bottom up.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Energy and food production in the city, buildings are going to play a crucial role. My bet is on quantum solar cells and LED lighting. This energy problem really has to be solved!

9. About the future of cities

In all regards city and countryside should blend into one powerful entity. It makes a city, healthy, livable and more social.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

As yet modest. We have just realized a neighborhood of small family collectives where this year, for the first time, people are living and gardening. Our plan for urban agriculture and recreation ‘Park Supermarket’ is stirring up some good strong discussion and looks like it will be realized soon: thus a further contribution.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

A very sweet guerrilla: ‘Singeldingen’ in the Heemraadspark in Rotterdam. A residents initiative with a mobile kiosk for snacks and drinks that has created a lively meeting place for our neighborhood in the summer.