Ben van Berkel

What means »city« to you today?

What really interests me about cities is how, over time, you can reinterpret them and refine your judgement as you rediscover them. When I first visited cities like Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles, I found them beautiful, but overwhelming. Now, even though they may still be chaotic, I actually find them quite calm. Perhaps that is because the more often you visit a city, the more you discover the details. In that respect, cities are not unlike art: there is always more to discover if you look at them from a different perspective. I don’t have fixed or moralistic ideas about cities, because they are so dynamic and always changing. That doesn’t mean that I underestimate the problems, or don’t see where there is need for improvement, but for me it is important to stand back from these problems in order to see them in their entirety.

What means »sustainable« to you?

The term sustainability has become slightly hollow for me, probably because it is so often used in the wrong way. Simply adding a green roof to a building does not make it sustainable. These days I see sustainability as an expanding idea that also has a human-centric – rather than a purely environmental – focus and as being very connected to the creation of healthy environments. This is an increasingly important topic within architecture. But again, it requires a thorough understanding and in-depth approach, not merely the superficial application of simplified ideas and solutions.

Reihe Vordenker.
»…whatever the future may bring.«