Sidewalks on the new Marnixstraat

The sidewalks of the newly renovated Marnixstraat:
Left side
Right side

These are too narrow to accomodate people walking along them side by side, let alone when the sidewalk is obstructed by plants, bikes, scooters, furniture and other things.

“Sidewalk width is invariable sacrificed for vehicular width, partly because city sidewalks are conventionally considered to be purely space for pedestrian travel and access to buildings, and go unrecognized and unrespected as the uniquely vital and irreplaceable organs of city safety, public life and child rearing that they are.” —Jane Jacobs

Add to that the fact that Amsterdam city politics is hostage to the car and you get this.



I so wish that the icons in the app made more sense and that the flow between states was clearer, but my wishes really don’t matter that much.

Color has flow. You can just keep doing stuff and you go fluidly from one screen to the other even though it may not be clear what every screen is for or why the various elements on the screens are where they are. You can do a lot, it all moves and feels rather magical. It’s more like a game than anything else.

Better yet, the spatial dislocation forces you not to be anal about organizing or sharing or any of the other features photo sharing apps would normally bother you with (and force you to learn). Indeed that is the promise they make: don’t find/add your friends, don’t organize your pictures, just snap away as you will and Colour will take care of all the rest.

This is smart, gutsy, well executed, it promises to Not Make Me Think and I’m almost ready to let go. Almost.

Jurriaan van Stigt ARCAM lecture — “Solving these things in a simple and right way is fun. It is our work.”

Yesterday the next ARCAM lecture was held in the Brakke Grond by Jurriaan van Stigt of the firm LEVS.

Jurriaan van Stigt

Here again are my brief notes (quotes are paraphrases at best):

He shows a clip from the Godfather (‘He made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.’) to illustrate the split personality of architect. Partially analytical partially emotional. Also partially doing what is right and partially pandering.

Son of Joop van Stigt, would play at his father’s firm from a young age on

Was greatly disappointed by the architecture school in Delft. All his architecture heroes only were talking about right or wrong. There wasn’t room for dissenting thought. One librarian would still buy all the wrong books (eg. Richard Meier).

His teachers were technology averse because they said that would ruin the creativity.

Marianne, his now wife, graduated on a concept for Amsterdam Damrak to integrate progress within the old city.

He graduated with a plan for the Wibaut-/Weesperstraat similar to a plan that is only now being executed. He called it the most beautiful street in Amsterdam (It is now commonly called the ugliest. -AÇ).

Finally they added Adriaan to add even more 1+1=3 synergy to the office.

They started a firm and they wanted to have done entire projects from front to back including interior, direction and management to have a feel for how it all works.

Overview of the Work

He says they also do technical direction and management. The number of people is fluid, they focus on the projects (Compare what I wrote about modern agencies and Spry Fox recently. -AÇ).

Talks about critical regionalism by Kenneth Frampton, arhitecture should unify with cultural layering and without prejudice and dogma.

‘Al onze gebouwen beginnen met een verhaal dat gelinked is aan een plek en waarom het zinnig is om het daar te doen.’

‘Je moet altijd je rokje optillen als je als architect werkt wilt binnenhalen.’ (illustrated by Zomergasten Helmut Newton clip)

‘Architecten die bij een opdrachtgever een leuk plaatje doen en de dunheid van ons vak laten zien.’

Coins the term voodoo architects: voorlopig ontwerp, definitief ontwerp (preliminary design, definitive design)

Be curious, see it through, be engaged with an assignment, be best not in but for the world.

Don’t work with separate stakeholders but mix them all together and create a chemistry.


‘We have HAD a very rich tradition in managing our public space.’

It takes a tremendous amount of resourcefulness and asking and talking. You have to make sure the mix is right on all levels to be able to densify.

By waiting for everybody and not deciding you also decide. Proactivity is often necessary.

In the end we have a lot of fun to create a beautiful building.


How difficult it is to get rid of a contractor. The lowest one usually stays in the race with the price he quoted. You can’t legally see the quotes the others have made.

They managed to get rid of their contractor and tender it under the table. When they finally were allowed to open the envelopes with the other quotes, it turned out these were stuffed with newspapers.

Concept & Analysis


It takes a lot of energy to convince people that certain things are doable. It is fun to show them it is doable if you are confident it is.

You can’t have yourself be guided by the specialists who say they know it all.

Shows prototypes they made before constructing the building.

It demands a lot from the building parties. The right builders.

Of course it’s nice to build a cool tower, but we don’t want a cool tower for a cool tower’s sake.

We already have enough architects who create their own problems.

Solving these things in a simple and right way is fun. It is our work.

A great talk though it took some time to get started. Referencing the Godfather clip: Jurriaan van Stigt is pretty gangster. Many of the client issues he named are directly transferrable to for instance the web profession. Many of their practices are indeed the best practices the best web agencies employ. Anything else yields lesser results.

The concept of not working with separate actors and stakeholders but getting them all together to create a chemistry is a must.

The designers who make a quick mockup and don’t follow through, we probably all have seen. The idea of designing and having a different party execute it almost never works either. Being engaged in your work and following through is a must.

Not trusting the specialists with their expertise when they say certain things are doable and others are not is also very wise. Having done every step in a project at least once and still being able to do it when called for is very useful.

Projects being quoted exorbitant amounts (especially when dealing with government) even accounting for organizational inefficiency five times over, that have no foundation in reality, we also have seen. As a designer having a notion how much something costs and being able to scope that is also very useful.

So both an architecturally very interesting talk and also very applicable to any kind of creative client work.

Weeknotes 185

That was bloody quick

Last week was a short one due to a multitude of other engagements and a weekend trip to Malmö-Lund-Copenhagen from which I returned yesterday.

Project mérida which concerns a collaboration with Buro Pony took up some time and we had a meeting on that on Wednesday.

A bunch of updates on PLAY Pilots were also on the roster and my first (and quite succesful) play at the Stereoscoop during the Film Festival.

Epic Win

An opinion piece I’ve been writing for a national daily has been accepted, but the urgency of the topic has been pushed aside a bit by current political developments in the Netherlands. Here’s hoping it gets published sometime soon.

Wednesday was also the office warming for Lev Kaupas new haunts which was a very lively and entertaining event.

Friend Requests


Verbazingwekkend snel en pijnloos:

Dat balletje is om in te knijpen als de afname te langzaam gaat. Dan kun je dus bloed helpen eruit te pompen. Maar als je nogal ongeduldig en competitief bent ingesteld en je krijgt zo’n balletje in je handen gedrukt, ga je natuurlijk direct knijpen. Wedstrijdje wie het eerste een pint bloed eruit perst?

Over 10 weken weer. Nu nog de Sanquin Foursquare Badge.

Doe hier de test of je ook bloed mag geven.

Table Viewer for Music Hackday

This entire weekend was taken up by Amsterdam Music Hackday for which Alex, Dirk and I had planned to build a prototype version of a surface table projector for music discovery.

The functionality we envision helps ad-hoc groups of people who find themselves in the same location/venue/party to compare their music tastes and see where the overlaps and where the holes are. The table would be a turn-taking jukebox with tangible interactions and nice visuals for all users and spectators.

Easier said than done, of course. We spent a great part of the week and most of the weekend hacking, building, eating, drinking coffee, staying up to the wee hours, literally stabbing ourselves with scalpels, cursing a great deal and drinking whisky to get the thing together, when finally on Sunday in the last hour before the presentation we managed to integrate everything to the level that we could shoot a demo video.

Pictures of the proces and demo videos below:

Real men eat meat!


Top view

Point to interface

What we built was just an initial step on the way to the jukebox I described above, but it seemed to look promising enough to net us the first prize from at Music Hackday for which we were very happy.

We like to thank, the organizers and the participants of Music Hackday. It was a great event and for us it was a great occasion to finally get this project started.

We will develop the table further and build out the functionality we had envisioned to make it a real locus for social music discovery. It should be hanging in one of our studios soon, so get in touch and visit if you want to try it out.