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Ellen van Loon on Architecture and Sustainability

Interview Date: 05-05-2011
(More interviews from this person)

VIEW the entire interview on VIDEO!

In recent years attention turns to green urban regeneration. Do you think that it is imperative for the city or it’s just a new fashion with economic outcomes and covertly interests?

Regeneration and sustainability is not the fashionable thing. We all have to think about looking at the world in a way with knowledge that resources we are used to use are running out. We need to rethink urban development and regeneration of cities and reuse of existing structures to make them fit for the future. It is not a fashion; it is something that we have to deal with. We all have to think about how we want to live on this planet in the next three hundred years.

How do you imagine a future in which sustainability pervades all forms of architecture and design, where it is unquestioned, and the norm?

The problem with the discussion about sustainability is that in some discussions you feel that sustainability is the most important thing in building but actually sustainability is only one of the twenty parameters which are important. It doesn’t make any sense to design a building which is very sustainable but nobody wants to live it. That is the top of not being sustainable. It is very important to find the balance between sustainability ant architecture qualities of your environment.

Does architecture as a profession need empowerment? In which ways should this be done?

We need to improve our profession by becoming much more knowledgeable and much more intelligent. An architect can’t continue in the profession in the traditional way by getting a program from the clients, design a building and that’s it. You have to really way all kinds of factors in there; environmental, economic, cultural factors and also of course the health of human beings. It is quite clear that human beings cannot live without lights and if human beings don’t get any daylight they basically die. There is a lot of balance to be looking and if architects are not able in the future to deal with all these questions, the architects won’t be. It will be the person that has a lot of jobs in the future.Is the world financial crisis an opportunity for everyone to reconsider the ways that we design and construct the buildings and the urban environment?

The good thing about economic crisis is that everybody has to look at back again at the minimum. When the economics were forcing, people only looked at luxurious items. This is a very strong attempt of people; liking luxurious items like luxurious cars etc. The good thing is that economic crisis causes a moment in which you have to really think twice before you buy something or you initiate something. You can actually create things which have a very high quality to give them any economic value. So, the economic crisis is a good thing for architecture instead of a bad thing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Ellen van Loon

Ellen van Loon

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Ellen van Loon worked on the design of the German Reichstag in Berlin for Foster and Partners and in 1998 she joined OMA to lead the design team for the headquarters of Universal Studios in Los Angeles. As a partner since 2002, she has been in charge of a large number of OMA’s building projects. These currently include the Cordoba Congress Centre, the headquarters for NM Rothschild bank in London, and the Bryghusprojektet in Copenhagen. Van Loon also led the design and construction of the award-winning Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal and the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin.Van Loon has a profound understanding of all facets of architectural practice. She combines a fine feeling for design with a sharp business acumen and in-depth understanding of all technical and operational aspects. Van Loon was appointed Managing Partner of OMA in 2004 and in 2005 she redirected her focus to her passion – architecture.

De Rotterdam, NL
Koningin Julianaplein, The Hague, NL
Foundation Headquarters, Strategic Studies Center, DE
Hamburg Hafencity Science and Aquarium Center, DE
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin, DE
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Rothschild Bank, London, UK
Fondazione Prada, Milan, IT
Mercati Generali, Rome, IT
Danish Architecture Centre, DK
Bryghusprojektet, Copenhagen, DK
Cordoba Congress Center, ES
Casa da Musica, Porto, PT
Prada Transformer, Seoul, KR
Qatar Foundation headquarters, UAE
Qatar Education City, UAE
Rand Policy Institute, UAE
Central Library, UAE
CCTV Headquarters Building, Beijing, CN
Universal Headquarters, Los Angeles, US