German Architect Jürgen Mayer H.
In conversation with one of the top German architects Jürgen Mayer H., Owner, J. Mayer H Architects’ studio.
How and why did you get into the design Industry?
I had a very solid engineering based education in Germany, which was aimed at producing good practicing architects. But I knew something was missing because I didn’t have a clear idea about how to develop my own thought or an architectural language. I went to The Cooper Union in NYC, which was a very challenging period for me in the beginning because instead of dealing with a real site or a program I could be given text of Noah’s Ark from the bible and be asked to develop a project. This was very strange and confusing. But then I understood that nothing could be taken directly. You have to argue about everything and prove why it works for you and relate everything to your own ideas. Basically, they force you to think about why you want to do architecture. So in Germany I learned “how” and at Cooper, I learned “why”. Then I went to Princeton for my Master’s degree, where architecture was used as a critique and discourse to make commentaries on contemporary life and culture.
How would you describe your design style?
J. MAYER H Architects’ studio, focuses on works at the intersection of architecture, communication and new technology. One major investment in our work is looking at expanding the material of architecture, beyond saying just building material. The influence of new media and new materials now expands our understanding of “space” as a platform for communication and sociocultural interactivity. We look closely at the site, critically rethink the program and try to extract something that is special to the specific site. We believe that architecture should work as an activator to move people from a passive mode of expectation to an involved level of participation and attention.
What are your most popular designs/projects?
Metropol Parasol. It is a redevelopment project of the Plaza de la Encarnacíon, an archaeological excavation site in Seville, Spain. It was a very fortunate project that combined many aspects, we were investigating in the past – contemporary architecture speculation, innovation in construction, new timber and coating structures, mix-use, and public space. It is also a project that received social and cultural meanings by the occupy movement, social gathering and political demonstrations which happened on the plaza after its completion. With both technological features and social interaction, I think Metropol Parasol represents what we have always strived to explore.
What are your design dreams/goals?
We see our buildings and designs as question to open up the discourse and change, rather than answers to close further transformation. As we always do individual designs for specific functions, sites and clients, we don’t start with a special formal attention in mind. Ideally, our projects create a specific identity for the place and work like activators and catalysts to generate appropriation by the people in and around the buildings.