He founded Architectuurstudio HH in and continues to run this thriving practice in the centre of Amsterdam. Best known for his designs of cultural buildings, housing complexes, offices and schools, he is also a prolific writer and teacher. A further interview from is also available on this site, here. It was a special place with good streets and large sidewalks where I could play outside on the street without being run over. I remember in the neighbourhood there were these sculpted, softly-rounded corner stones at the entrance.
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He founded Architectuurstudio HH in and continues to run this thriving practice in the centre of Amsterdam. Best known for his designs of cultural buildings, housing complexes, offices and schools, he is also a prolific writer and teacher.
A further interview from is also available on this site, here. It was a special place with good streets and large sidewalks where I could play outside on the street without being run over.
I remember in the neighbourhood there were these sculpted, softly-rounded corner stones at the entrance. I can still remember, something like 78 years later, the feeling of sitting on one. Rounded corner-stone, Amsterdam. When you design a handrail in the public domain, you must realise that children are going to climb on it. I took a photograph once on holiday: we were just parking the car and we let the children out and the first thing they did was to climb on the handrail.
And then I tried to build a bridge between that memory and the designing of a new school. Architects generally have completely left their own experience behind, it seems to be in another part of their brain.
But your main inspiration is what happened to you. Hopefully this was a positive experience. If it was only negative, you are not well equipped to be an architect except when you were so conscious of the fact that it was negative that you compensated for that and absorbed all the right things after all. Is that is the point of designing a good school? No, it is not only the point of designing a school, it is the point in general.
What do you understand by education? I have a Montessori background and the fact is that Montessori is not just about learning to behave. Education is about how to live together, relationships with other people, knowing how to negotiate, how to help people with difficulties, to have a creative approach to everything, so all sorts of things are part of education.
Creativity is not just for art — like making paintings — but exploring situations. In the Dutch education system there is no time for that. All the time is taken up by the things you ought to know — you are supposed to know the right spelling, the right calculation, only cognitive knowledge.
Sitting still and learning things by heart is not wrong, but only part of the story. What do you remember about your first school? I remember when I was in the Montessori school as a young child and my father, who was a medical doctor, came to the school. I had so much freedom in that school. In my second year I made a project about tramways.
It came to me out of the blue. I even went by tram to the end of every line to see what was there and made it into real project with drawings and everything. And the teacher let me do it. I spent something like half a year on that. So this instruction by the teacher was the right thing.
Did you go to several schools when you were a child? No, just one. And you started at the age of six? Four, I think. Do you remember the school building? Of course, I could draw it. Floorplan: First Montessori School, Amsterdam. This school was fantastic. This space was also used for preparing a play for the whole class or for a group. Did you have special places in the school where you liked to be? Yes, I could talk for hours about this.
Especially the higher grade classrooms where you were supposed to be the next year. Only the corridors were no-go areas. And I remember, one of those classic things, when I did behave so badly that the teacher sent me to the corridor.
I remember standing in the corridor with nothing to do, standing with the coats, in this place with no real windows and trying to find something to eat in the pockets of the coats. Do you think that the Montessori experience was influential in later life? Oh absolutely. It was crucial to my whole development. One very important feature of the Montessori school is that everything is openly displayed and available so that you can be inspired by what is there. And you choose something and you are inspired.
And that became the inspiration for how I make suggestions to the school users in my practice. So this Montessori education influenced your work in general, not just the school buildings you design? Yes, in general. This led to my main idea of keeping things open for people, i. If you have that niche in your house made of concrete, you cannot take it away and you are invited to do something with it.
Others might put something in it, like a plant. So in effect, the space or the features of the space are challenging you, asking you an answer. Without suggesting in a specific way. When you do something different, the mistake most people make is that they think that they have to get rid of the previous paradigm. That you should not do. I mean, you need classrooms but only sometimes. How about the classrooms? So, in my architecture I did not want to deny the classroom, but to put it in perspective.
This is what happened in the United States in the fifties, they made really big rooms and people were sitting there and it became a mess, because they were distracting each other. Distraction can be fruitful but it can also be disturbing.
The point is, how can you make it fruitful and not disturbing? Therefore the idea of articulation is very important. The space should be articulated in the sense that you are sort of protected, but feel part of each other. But perhaps you think they suggested too much? The Dutch regulations want to make the school corridor very broad.
Because when people have to sit still for two or three hours, as soon as the bell rings they explode in movement because they had to sit still for so long. When you were studying architecture in Delft, did you plan a school? But my wife was a kindergarten teacher and when I had just finished my studies her school asked me to design a new building for them.
And that school in Delft is still not outdated. Montessori School, Delft. Overall plan: Montessori School, Delft. Classroom plan: Montessori School, Delft.
How did you develop your ideas about school design in that first school? So the classroom was articulated in three zones. And there were niches for the coats and cloakroom, but instead of a corridor there was a central space for everything communal. Everyone can take part. So that school today is still just as you intended? Is that true of all the schools you have designed? Even if they have changed, the main concept is still clear. Do you ever consult the pupils about the designs for their schools?
Sometimes the teachers have good ideas. Sometimes they have no ideas. So you have to fight to begin with but then after that, nobody ever mentions it again.
Children are very clever. Staircase: extended primary school, Arnhem. I think a school should be like a small city. In a city you have small places, large places, all sorts of secluded and semi-secluded places, you have vistas and you have all sorts of activities. In effect, these pupils are not yet of an age to go into the city and explore the life of the city but they should explore life through the school, so you must create as many conditions as possible in the school so that they experience the world through the school building.
Is it still possible to make schools with these big staircases in this way in the Netherlands? At the moment we are designing a school, which has a long line of stairs going up and up to create a stepped street.
So the answer is yes, you can, except that the budgets are awfully small but in this case the price is OK for them so they will build it. Sketch: long section of extended primary school, Groningen.
Mer Claudio Santos rated it really liked it Jan 08, Anna rated it it was amazing Aug 05, Selected pages Page User Review — Flag as inappropriate This is the first architectural related book that I fpr as student in architecture, and I found it inspiring, absorbing, and, of course, easy-to-read. Mar 14, Antonis Moras rated it really liked it. Lessons for Students in Architecture — Herman Hertzberger — Google Books This collective coagulation of individual freedom hertzbdrger action has assigned a pre-determined purpose to every place in the home and architectue the city alike— and has done so in such an uninspired way that all the variations that make up identity are radically nipped in the bud. Want to Read saving…. This is the first architectural related book that I read as student in architecture, and I found it inspiring, absorbing, and, of course, easy-to-read. Whoever attempts to meet man in the Solutions of this kind are certainly astonishing.
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