“Jo Vanweert knew two things when he decided to build his first home: It would be on the highest point in his small hometown of Bilzen, Belgium, where his family has lived for generations, and it would be designed by his cousin Jan Vanweert, an architect 11 years his senior. Jo told his cousin he wanted a house that had clean lines inspired by classic modernism and that took advantage of its hilltop site.
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“What his cousin delivered has a modernist rigor tempered with a surprising softness, a twist that turned out to be perfect for the younger Vanweert’s evolving family.”
For the American magazine Dwell I wrote a piece about an intriguing house in Schoorl designed and built by its owners, the couple Ayla van Geest and Jordie Kuin, together with Ayla’s parents. By expanding an existing house they made space for three generations – and for their French bulldogs Bullie and Cooper! Ayla and Jordie furnished their well-designed expansion with lots of ‘pre-loved’ building materials.
One of this year’s memorable exhibitions was Fibra Architectures in the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris. It was about architecture made of, yes, fiber: seagrass, bamboo, palm leaves, reeds, sugarcane leaves, banyan tree roots, straw, mycelium, wheat stalks, wicker, willow branches and the humblest of all – grass.
The churches are almost empty, but religion is undergoing a comeback in the city. One example is Kleiklooster, a modern-day ‘monastery’ in the 60’s apartment block Kleiburg in the Bijlmer. I met with one of the founders, Johannes van der Akker, who will also be a guest in my live talkshow Stadsleven on Sept. 27th. And… they also brew beer!
The Portuguese city of Porto was European Cultural Capital in 2001, and one of the projects that spawned was the Casa da Música by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA. It took longer than expected – it didn’t open until 2005 – and it went way over budget, from 31 million euro’s to 111 million. But the result is spectacular, combining hard materials like concrete, glass and aluminium with soft surfaces like the Noridc pine wallsof the main hall with goldleaf motifs and the lovely wavy glass wall around it. One thing did surprise me: the Soviet-style furniture along the walls. Watch my vlog and judge for yourself!