Architect Jos de Krieger
Dutch architect Jos de Krieger is a specialist in urban installations and interventions, and has been working in the field of architecture, focusing particularly on innovative architecture made from leftover and waste materials. Jos de Krieger joined Rotterdam-based Superuse Studios (formerly 2012Architecten), after graduation.
What sort of projects have you undertaken in the Netherlands?
We obviously have a lot of different projects and different scales, but one project I always like to explain is made from windmills, which are an icon of sustainable energy. They are everywhere, all over the world, but they also have a waste problem attached to them, that most people don’t see because it’s not visible. The blades are a combination of glass fibre, epoxy resin and some other materials, which we can’t recycle at the moment because we just don’t have the technology. The only things that we can do is either put them in landfill or burn them, but there’s not much good in that. When the material is discarded, it’s still really good, so we made a children’s playground out of it.
After you enter the playground you actually can get inside these windmill blades, so as a kid you can walk through and it becomes a fantastical space. It could be a rabbit’s hole, or a spaceship, or a castle. Most playgrounds in the Netherlands are thematic, so if you’re next to the harbour there will be a playground with a boat in it, which is quite limiting to the imagination. With the Wikado playground, the child can create their own ideas of what kind of space they are in.
How do you think we can create a healthy, functioning urban ecosystem in a city like Auckland?
Auckland is quite a big conglomeration of people, which relies heavily on cars and it doesn’t necessarily have to, or at least not as much as it is right now. Transportation is a really difficult issue. The ideal thing would be to invest in something that makes personal transportation quicker and cheaper and cleaner, like in Star Trek – but that’s not going to happen!
Public transport is a good solution, and you seem to be having some success with the electric train in Auckland. Unfortunately it is just going to be a really slow transformation, because you have a fixed situation here in Auckland and you can’t change everything at once. Infrastructure is one of those really slow changing flows, as so many people have bought a car which will last them at least 10 to 20 or more years, and those types of investments are really hard to go around.
In Christchurch there is the opportunity to change a lot at once, which could be an experiment for the whole country to see what could happen if things are organised in a certain way, and if it works. It might already be too late for that, since the rebuild has been set in motion, but as long as there is open space left there will be things that can be improved.
What led you to your focus on temporary installations, or what you call interventions?
What I like about the short term side of it is that I can do a lot of different projects and be engaged with a variety of things, and I can meet a lot of people. It’s such a dynamic field, with a lot of room for experiment. It also gives me the opportunity to travel, which I probably wouldn’t do as much if it was ‘just a holiday’. Currently in the practice it’s most convenient for me to do this as well, since I’m the only one in the office that doesn’t have kids!
What are a couple of future projects that Superuse is working on at the moment?
One of the main projects for the studio currently is Blue City. This is a redevelopment of a former tropical swimming pool in Rotterdam to a circular economy centre, an innovation centre with meeting rooms and event space. The centre will house not only our office, but around 50 different companies that work with or on the blue economy, such as a company that grows mushrooms on coffee grinds or businesses in urban farming. We’re trying to get everyone in Rotterdam that is involved in these kind of businesses and ideas together in one building.