The strong growth of the Romanian economy, pushed by the European accession, ignited a development race at the most historic, beautiful and remote sites of Romania. Facilitating potentialities that ‘might arise’ became the new gamble: houses, hotels and offices for people that never came. As result, the built floorspace increased substantially over the last 10 years. Vacancy became the new enemy. Vacancy in an excessive postmodern or fake vernacular costume. Let’s face it. Never were ‘here’ and ‘there’ as interrelated as nowadays. Communication devices and long distance transport opened up our world and keep us connected. ‘Home’ is no longer a place anchored in strong local tradition, but a condition of global inter connectivity. Together with Building the Future and the municipality of Vama Buzaului YYY developed a staged development plan for Dalghias Valley that facilitates ‘change’ and ‘sophistication’ in stead of mass. We wanted to challenge the Romanian spatial planning with less footprint, and more respect. Valley21 and its buildings are designed in such a way that they connect the ‘here’ and the ‘there’, the contemporary with the rural, the international with the local. The buildings are characterized by the strong lines of the international style and a local presence in materials and reflections. Architecture and nature compete and synthesize at the same time, they become non hierarchical.
The project is embraced by the Romanian green building council.
Architect Ruud van Aerde (RBAP) asked us to join forces on the concept development and design of the so called ‘Green store logistics’ center in Tilburg for real-estate company HVBM. YYY (Mendel Robbers and stagair Emile de Wit) proposed a green vegetated logistic center that resembles the forest that once characterized this part of industrial park Kraaiven.
The apartment block is situated along a monumental curve of one of the main corridors of the city of Utrecht. This corridor links the city center with an old neighbourhood. The inhabitants of this neighbourhood feel separated from the city and it social atmosphere is therefore quite problematic. In this case, can the apartment block have more meaning than just being a stack of houses? Can it establish connections without housing social program? Inspired by the mirrorworks of the artist Robert Smithson we designed a monumental kaleidoscopic facade. The facade dissembles the existing order of the city and generates new combinations.
Floating homes used to be unique constructions based on vessels, but today they lost their charm. Nowaday they are heavy, fat and high. They look like regular houses, and can have up to 3 levels. Large floating platforms made it possible to use similar building materials and methods as on the mainland. We tried to regain some of its charm by designing a very simple and extremly lightweight home. In the design, floater and body become one. The rooms are carved out of the volume of recycled EPS. EPS foam is causing big problems in the waste cycles, simply beacuse it is used everywhere. And it is hard to get rid of it in an ecological way. Reusing this EPS is very simple. Compressed in new foam blocks it is very useful: it is a good isolator, and it is easy to process. Spagtelputz will cover the EPS from wind an rain and a layer concrete below the watersurface will guarantee stability and floatability in the future.
Mendel Robbers and Ruud van Aerde were asked to design an extension for a beauty institute in Gemert (The Netherlands) is a physical interface between a zone with warehouse-like buildings and a residential zone. We proposed a scheme with two levels which has some characteristics of a helmet. A helmet in which you will be adepted to the new standards of beauty. The garage on the other side of the site is also part of the scheme. To solve the possible reduction of the amount of sunlight in the living room of the existing house, and as an ode to their beautiful old Mercedes coupe we proposed a green-house in which their car will form a bohemian museum together with summerplants and garden tools.