Kees Christiaanse
architect/urban planner and partner KCAP Architects&Planners
and Professor at the ETH Zürich

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

My ancestors were mill builders. Subsequently, they owned a sawmill, then a steam joinery and finally became contractors. My mother is an interior designer and my son is studying architecture. Thus, there is a continuous line of building.

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

I grew up with having the gene of manufacturing. I have witnessed the reclaiming of land, the appearance of new canals, railways and roads. I have also seen Zeeland changing into a lagoon area. This was the immediate reason to start studying in Delft. Moreover the literature of the Das brothers and Sietse Leeflang, including the book: 'Looking for living space'. I chose between Engineering and Architecture: on the basis that the civil engineering students wore ties and the engineering students walked through the sand in their Jesus sandals towards their new building, which has now burned down.

3. Best city

Depending on the stages of life: when I was young it was Amsterdam, when I graduated it was Rotterdam and now, as a senior, Zürich.

4. Most beautiful building

The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It is an object and a structure at the same time. Positive and negative with volumes and patios, classical and modern, programmatically as staging, building technology at it's best!

5. Most beautiful park or square

The Museumplein in Amsterdam: before the construction of the park. Square and museums were one program.

6. Best public facility /
urban infill

HafenCity Hamburg: although co-designed, I do not know of any other modern urban construction plan that is so mixed and functions, so well, between control and 'laissez-faire'.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

The airplane, the container and the Internet.

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Neighborhoods and buildings that are emission-free with low-tech solutions.

9. About the future of cities

The future of the city depends on a sustainable organization of the 'stocks and flows' of people, goods, services and information, as well as developing a topology of each complementing centrality of different character.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

I think that I am the patriarch of developing flexible and free urban planning based on simple rules.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Oh yes, in 'the city as loft' we show how former warehouses and industrial areas, filled with formal and informal programs, form breeding grounds for the most important innovative impulses of the city.