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October 2019

Fame & Vanity


Fame & Vanity

Credit where credit is due; celebrity and stardom; notoriety, to be renowned; the image, the persona; to be admired.

FAME: the state of being known to the public; character, mark, name, reputation; anonymity, oblivion, obscureness, obscurity.

VANITY: an often unjustified feeling of being pleased with oneself or with one's situation or achievements; 'amour propre', bigheaded-ness, complacence; humbleness, humility, modesty.

Editorial team

Aimee Baars, Jan Pruszyński, Nicole van Roij, Chun Kit 'CK' Wong

With contributions from

Maartje Damen, Kees Fritschy, Nathan Kramer, Koen Mulder, Tuomas Peippo

Cover design by

Nicole van Roij


Fame and Vanity; two shallow words that unexpectedly come along with deep insecurities and feelings of anxiety, frustration, envy and self-doubt. How often do we consider stardom a phenomenon distanced from our daily life, but in honesty, our design industry is full of (the ambition for) it. In last year's publication Rumours we were treated with a filmic scene of Sou Fujimoto's entrance to our humble BK City - crowds went wild. And in response to our Instagram (@Bnieuws) poll 'Do you want to become famous?' 42% answered YES. We might have to trivialize the robustness of this outcome since evidently people who want to be famous are more eager to respond than the ones who do not. Nonetheless, the ambition for stardom is there! And, according to our dean Dick van Gameren, whose interview you can read on page 6, it was no different in the 80s.

Why this hunger for fame? And where does vanity come into play? Does it fuel fame? Or does it sequence it? There are many questions to be answered. According to Tuomas Peippo (p. 20), psychoanalysis doesn't provide you any answers, and neither do designers themselves. Apparently we are either blind to flaws inherent to the architectural discipline or we choose not to face them and talk our way out of them with sales patter. Fact is that somehow we, and our patter, have been able to lift the profession of designers to a level of 'stardom', and though we might pretend not to care, we ourselves are responsible for this phenomenon: we care!

This tendency to showcase our pride, perhaps even our superiority, either as a community such as the design industry or as an individual, is human. It is common to sketch an ideal image of ourselves when we talk to strangers, tell narratives about how we wish it would have been, instead of how we actually are. We all want to exude the best version of ourselves, be acknowledged, seen and heard. Whereas in the past we had fewer opportunities to rise to stardom, nowadays we are given a voice which transcends physical space and time synthesis. Social media provide us tools to construct our desired identities, our image to the outside world. It might even be in the name: BIG TIME, a documentary - reviewed by Aimee Baars on page 22 - on Bjarke Ingels who is founder of internationally renowned firm BIG, gives us an insight in the life of a 'starchitect'. It leaves you feeling conflicted; are the head aches, the jet lags, the haste worth it? For some people it is, and for some people it isn't - and that is ok. There is certainly no harm in telling yourself, mirror included, you are worthy every now and then. Come on, say it now: "I am worth it!" Well done you. And perhaps, in the far future Artificial Intelligence - as Nathan Kramer suggests in his article on page 28 - has taken control and we won't even have to worry about superiority, because it is all taken care for.


Interview: Dick van Gameren


After many years of leading the chair of Dwelling, Dick van Gameren has been appointed Dean of Bouwkunde Faculty in April 2019. We spoke to him about his own student life during the 80s, his observations of the present issues concerning BK students and staff and of course his views on the future BK City.

Credit Where Credit Is Due


Here at BK, the bachelor program is full of big names Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Rogers or the Dutch pride Rem Koolhaas. And with big names come big designs. Falling Water, Farnsworth house, Centre Pompidou, The Rotterdam. Not only do we learn these big names, but we also learn a lot about sustainability, ‘Always choose reuse over recycling, and recycling over new build’. Yet, the most prominent designs made by the given role models are newly built. For these projects, non-locally sourced materials are being used, and other buildings are often demolished to make space.

Complaint Cases. Where to Go?


This article both rectifies the article Letter published in Bnieuws issue 52/04 Rumours and lays out possibilities at BK City to reach out for support in case you want to file a complaint.

Architectural Misconceptions


I remember reading an article several years ago about the influence of police dramas, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on how police and their work are perceived by the public in the US. Even though people realise that it is fiction, most citizens do not have to interact with the police actively and these TV shows tend to become the only source of their understanding of how the police works. This led to quite a few problems, such as unrealistic expectations. I believe that the architecture has a somewhat similar problem.



Vanity, vanity


Some of My Problems


In the previous issue of Bnieuws Sam Eadington wrote on the tendency of architects to describe their work with clichés such as problem solving. Taking the self-description from the website of an anonymous Berlin office as an example, the author makes it clear how insubstantial these kind of statements usually are. Even successful offices feel the need to publish such blabber, the author argues, because most architects don’t really know what ’they stand for’, or what value they bring. Insecure architects then have to resort to pseudo-philosophy to convince their clients and audiences of their importance.

Bjarke Ingels Portrayed


BIG TIME is a documentary in which young Danish 'starchitect' Bjarke Ingels is followed around on his trips around the world from 2013 until 2016: we as viewers are confronted with the priviliges as well as the negative side-effects of architectural stardom.



In 1954, Graham Sutherland, a renowned English artist, was commissioned to paint a full-length portrait of Winston Churchill - a work meant to be presented to the Prime Minister as his 80th birthday gift. Churchill had probably been highly anticipatory of it, given that it was in conjunction with such a grand affair.

No doubt he had expectations that it would portray him as he saw himself - a heroic, valiant man in line with the legacy he had left; he had wanted to be painted in his robes as a Knight of the Garter. Instead, the commission had specified that he should be dressed according to the typical parliamentary dress code.

House of Machines - AI in Design


Recent developments in artificial intelligence have posed a challenge to the world of architecture and design. Contrary to previous computer methods, which could only have a deductible output based on a formal input, artificial intelligence replicates the creative process. This has posed a threat to architects: what role will AI have for the architectural profession? It is necessary to find the right approach to handle AI for architects, urban planners and landscape architects, as the development of techniques for architectural, urban and landscape analysis have been rapidly developing, with a possible future out-performance of architects by these techniques.

Flying and Falling


During our education, we sometimes feel like flying and sometimes like falling.

In my studies I have experienced that being somewhere safe on the ground, in between flying and falling, is rarely a good feeling. If you are safe on the ground you cannot fall, but also certainly not fly. Perhaps we should hover above the ground, with our feet almost touching it.

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