on ‘one idea’
In conversation with Siebe Bakker – part 1
(transcript of a youtube interview by TS)
|Valerio Olgiati / foto: Archive Olgiati|
VO: There are different thoughts about this. Different thoughts led to the idea to work with a theme, or with an idea, with a concept. One is mainly that when I drive around, or when I am on a trip, I see here something or there something that I like. On TV, in a magazine or a book. So, I constantly change a little bit what I like. Of course I have generally a taste, I go with my intuition. But the problem is when you always change, when you work out of your belly with your instinct, when you mainly work like this you somehow get very insecure if you have different influences. Like, one day I like this, next day I like this. So, I like it if I can follow a certain thing. The less I have an idea the more I am insecure. I tend to change it constantly. That’s why I once, probably ten, fifteen years ago when I started to make architecture, I started to work, to have an idea to work with. You can compare it with a writer. When a writer writes an essay, or writes a book or whatever, this writer does not start to put down words. This writer starts to think what the story will be about. The story has to be quite defined before you can start to write. And it’s the same with architecture. For me it’s very important to continue at for least one project with a certain idea. And not leave it again.
SB: So, is it for every project a new idea? Or is there a more general idea that is behind you being an architect?
VO: Yes, of course every project is based on a new idea. There are sometimes certain motives, certain aspects of an idea that I like, or that I could not build before, that I continue to think about, or that flows into a new project. But, you are asking me now about what is my philosophical background. Let’s say what is the common idea of everything. The common is this idea of making an object or an architecture that is made, that reacts or that acts like one thing. And this is what I call an organism. Like an organism where all the parts in an orderly sense are dependent on each other. And kind of grow out of each other into a next part of the whole thing. This is what I like about architecture. I am not talking about the tectonic, you can also talk abut the tectonic in a plant. I am talking more about this one thing. Like when you take a piece away, it does not fit anymore. And it’s not that when you take a piece away that it’s not good anymore. I really want to make buildings, tha t when you take a piece away then they break apart. And for this concrete is a very ideal material because you pour it. Concrete you can use on traction, you can use it on pressure, I am talking about reinforced concrete. And with concrete you can do everything, you can make a plate, you can make a stick, you can make a wall, you can make a roundish wall. You can make a cupola, you can make vaulted ceilings. You can make everything in concrete, you just pour it. And it’s used on traction and pressure and with this I can go the most, I can work the most on this idea, or it’s the best material to work on this idea of making one thing.
SB: It intrigues me a lot that you want to build something that is a whole, that is a unity and if you take one part away then basically it doesn’t function anymore, or it’s not good anymore, or it’s not perceived anymore, or it breaks apart. I’m wondering where that fascination is coming from.
VO: I think it’s more total. It’s just more total. It’s also like this, when you say that your object or your architecture is one thing, then the consequence of this is also that you’re not a composer. You’re a divider. These are two expressions that you can use. A composer is one that puts things together in a modular way, that means that the end – the organism that is created or let’s say the settlement that is created by an architect as a composer has different aids something sticks out here or there, up and down. It doesn’t have a clear form from outside, or it doesn’t have defined form. The internal need of composing leads to forms that are not one thing. And when you do one thing, you have one idea, and you want to do one thing then you divide it up. So the consequence is that I always work with a square or with a cube. Of course I don’t believe in the square or the cube as an almost religious idea, but it’s just like the more you think about something, the more you are this divider, the more you start with an absolute form. And the absolute form will be a ball or sphere or will be a cube or a square. The work with one thing, and to be a divider, is just the fascination of being more total, of being more clean, of being more like a human brain than to be an animal. Originally working with a concept, with one idea also came out of my father. I had a father, a strong architect, a strong personality and somehow I had to survive when I was young. I also chose this profession and if I would just work out of my belly – out of my instinct – I would end up somewhere with the same genetic program like with my father. I would kind of make what my father did. And I wanted to make something different. So, I had to first kind of give up my own past, I had to destroy my past more or less. And you cannot destroy your past with instinct. You can only do this with your brain. Typical psycho-analysis, you do it with your brain. So, first of all I cleaned up and I emptied my ‘backpack’. And then I had to start again. And if there is nothing anymore left you have to invent it. And when you invent you end up with an idea. So, you start from zero and that’s how I started with this. And I found out that it really helps me. And it also brings me …I don’t have to always question myself if what I do is right or wrong, philosophically. Like is it socially right, is it politically right, is it ethically right, or whatever. I just do what I do because I have an idea. I’m a craftsman that helps execute the idea, that I made up of course. But then I can say it’s the right form that my idea generates, or is it the wrong form, or whatever. It’s kind of a logic – of course it’s not always very logic – it’s a logic way of doing things.