Blog posts   << Previous post | Next post >>
One Architecture (Matthijs Bouw and Joost Meuwissen), Six under a Tennis Court, 1994-1995. Model.
© Photograph by Michel Boesveld.
The Green Heart or the Randstad Green Structure state planning region, according to VINEX (Fourth Protocol on Spatial Planning in the Netherlands), 1993.
© Vierde nota over de ruimtelijke ordening extra Deel 4 Planologische Kernbeslissing Nationaal Ruimtelijk Beleid (Hague: Ministerie van Volkshuisvesting, Ruimtelijke Ordening en Milieubeheer, 1993), 65.
The designated site in the Green Heart.
© Photograph by Michel Boesveld.
Joost Meuwissen, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1994. Ball pen on paper, no dimensions.
© One Architecture Archives, Amsterdam.


Posted 01 Mar 1998


Michael Speaks, ‘The Enigmatic Empiricism of One’, Daidalos Architecture Art Culture, 67, March 1998 (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Fachzeitschriften GmbH, 1998), 108-109.

The Enigmatic Empiricism of One

Michael Speaks

The projects of Amsterdam-based One Architecture are the most direct but also the most enigmatic produced by a new generation of post-avant-garde Dutch architects. Direct because their projects are disarmingly straightforward and easy to comprehend; enigmatic because these same projects also induce a kind of intellectual stutter such as occurs when one is confronted with a fact or real­ity that at first seems too banal and too there to matter, but one which, when made the focal point of a intense analysis, becomes potentially transformative. Focusing on what is already there has become One's design modus operandi; it also defines their unique brand of empiricism and offers a clue to their equally idiosyncratic understanding of space, which they argue can no longer be understood as a container, medium, or phenomenological a priori, but is instead an empirical reality.
In their Leidsche Rijn housing scheme, featured here, empiricism is employed as a design principle in itself. Following this logic, One focuses on and intensifies the strongly felt, but characteristically unexpressed, desire in the Netherlands for suburban life, with its emphasis on car-driven mobility, youth, sport, and consumer culture. In the Netherlands, public and private space are normally defined oppositionally. Public space is identified with both the urban and the pastoral, while private space is identified with the objectionable, though desirable, amalgam of urban and pastoral, the suburban. This is all complicated by the famous Dutch “green heart,” a mythical pastoral zone encircled by the urban ring of cities known as the Randstad. The green heart and the Randstad are meant to function ideologically as a single, dialectical, public space unit to limit the spread of the suburb, the reservoir of private spaces for the masses. There has been and continues to be considerable debate about whether or not to develop the “green heart” for housing and industry, debate which has become more heated and confused with the new VINEX (Fourth Protocol on Spatial Plan­ning in the Netherlands) requirement to produce more than a million new units of housing by the year 2010.
One's tennis court house project intervenes in this debate and argues that the “green heart” is no longer (if it ever was) a pastoral landscape, but is already a hybrid mixture of public and private space: with the numbers of renegade vacation houses and motor traffic rising each year, it is clear that the suburban is already there, and so also is the Dutch desire for suburban life. Soberly and empirically, One set out in their project to bring these two “already there” realities together. Design elements such as tennis balls, nets, and court surfaces, are linked together to form a series of repetitive frames – tennis ball, tennis ball lighting on power lines, tennis ball “sun” – which are meant to retain while rede­fining the categories of public and private space. One is not interested in resolv­ing the tension created between public and private space, but rather in exploit­ing this tension to produce design solutions for a market-driven world in which pure public and pure private space have given way to a variety of new spatial hybrids. Ultimately, One's aim is to produce private housing with the sense of  “being live” generated only by public spaces. Television is their model because the kind of live feeling it engenders in the viewer and the viewed alike is the clos­est approximation they see to an ideal private experience of public life. To use the Deleuzian language favored by One, it is public driven repetition that engenders private difference – 100% private and 100% public, as they say. In more recent projects, such as their urban plan for Salzburg, Austria, One has begun to offer more complex solutions to the problems framed here in their ten­nis housing project. As their singular visual style and enigmatic language become more developed, the solutions they offer will surely become more direct, though it is likely we will continue to stutter. Given the condition of archi­tecture today, that can only be a good thing.

See the full project

Read the architect´s comment

Tags for this post:
one architecture

0 comment(s)
Blog posts   << Previous post | Next post >>