International architecture competition.
Design for a new  building for the Faculty of Architecture in Delft.
Data: 32.000 sqm of educational spaces, halls, exhibition and offices.
Location: Delft, The Netherlands
Design: 2008



Bouwkunde since ever has been representing a symbol of excellence and progress in Europe.
This faculty has been able to dialog on the same lever with major institutions like MIT, IIT, AA London, Columbia University and other well known architecture schools. Bouwkunde has been the “nest” for many generations of extremely talented architects that, as a matter of fact, have been incrementing the historical debate on architecture and can by right find a location into the history of this discipline.But most of all, Bouwkunde represented and still represents, an epicenter, a place where every student or architect eager of this discipline, wanted to be. A place capable to spread optimism and passion for our discipline. And this is why the fire on the faculty has moved emotionally an entire professional community;
because Bouwkunde represented a place and a symbol for growth, ambition, competition, interest, curiosity, passion.

We, architects are like truffle dogs: we hunt, smell, observe, we have an ever ending radar always pulsating like a hart, looking for new contents and development of society, because we shape the environment. Bouwkunde doesn’t need an icon, but cannot either loose its symbolic role. A place of alarm, where this word is not meant in its negative diction. Bouwkunde is like a fire station, a stock exchange, where every movement and happening in the world becomes debate and reason to question, where all issues coming from the outer world become arguments and consideration at the base of our environment. We are not static, we are in eternal movement. We need to move, to absorb. And we need to team up, because we need to fight, to discuss, to compete for ideals, to research better ways. Bouwkunde should be not only a place giving knowledge buy mostly PRODUCING knowledge.

In 1992 the 6th International Architecture Biennale of Venice, directed by Hans Hollein and entitled “The architect as a Seismograph”, touched the substance of this issue in a very effective way. We react to the cultural movements of our society, and for this reason, we need to introduce the same awareness and feeling into the student chrysalis, open and receptive, full of expectations toward the future profession.

For this reason the keyword for this process is CENTRALIZATION.
TU Delft can change the course of education not barely through a technological progress but maximizing a philosophy that so far has made this institution an international leader. The fire of the faculty was a disaster but we can look at it as an opportunity. Reformulating the potential gives us the responsibility to make even more powerful the main thing that Bouwkunde has always represented: OPTIMISM.

An institution representing progress and research has the delicate responsibility to preserve a certain range of “neutrality”, stay a sort of open field of experimentation, a permanent workshop that could leave freedom to each personality to develop an autonomous way of looking at design. But the architecture faculty represents at the same time a symbol for ideology and creativity. It is somehow “unfair” to neglect the visionary role of the architect, which by designing the future Bouwkunde, will unavoidably give an ideological message.

Bouwkunde needs to refine its educational tools, consolidate a farseeing philosophy, catch up alliances, maximize its openness and cultural emancipation, spread optimism and positive thinking toward architectural progress and experimentation. Bouwkunde will be the mirror of changes, but it will always stay the mirror of personality in architecture. Flexibility and neutrality have an effective role as long as they do not mortify our imagination; and all that Bouwkunde needs and will never stop needing, is effusing and feeding subjective imagination.



Since the origin of the university institution and of schools of superior education, art and architecture have been playing a very peculiar role within the planned buildings. Architecture has been always ling in between art, philosophy and science. Either as part of a technology campus or an institution offering studies in multiple fields, architecture, because of its duality, has played a peculiar urban role in the city. Cities with an older tradition in arts, where the historical city centre since a longer time has been the activity core of the city, the school of art and architecture has usually played a role in the centre of the city, keeping the cultural debate and the students, as much as possible in direct contact with the historical and architectural heritage. It is the case of old University Institutions like Cambridge, Vienna, Venice, Rome.

Often the faculty of architecture has been hosted in prestigious historical buildings, sometimes not even originally designed for that function.
In another relevant number of cases the faculty of architecture has been displaced from the campus, being localized in the right proximity of the centre within autonomous buildings which always contributed to make the location and function easy to identify (Madrid, Barcelona, Toronto, Berkley) . Another similar urban method has been applied by autonomous private schools, which try to keep their address as much as possible in the centre of the city, in order to link it to the cultural scene, make it easy to reach, and improve its promotional role (AA London, Barlet London, Berlage Institute Rotterdam). Finally, several Universities organize the different disciplines in buildings grouped in a masterplan. The “Campus” became the urban typology that activates a portion of the city by centralizing all the research and educational activities in one single area.

From the main American Universities, like MIT and Harvard in Boston, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, IIT in Chicago and the University of California, to several European Universities like Helsinki, Porto, Lausanne, and TU Delft, till Asian Universities like Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore, the faculty of architecture finds its location in the proximity of the other technical faculties. The campus becomes a field on interaction and centralization of different professionals, contributing to knowledge sharing and the growth of collaboration and consultancy.

The old Bouwkunde building represented a real destination, being located at the end of the campus. We can find the reason of its peripheral location into the attractive and cultural power of architecture, a sort of catalyst between the disciplines, therefore capable to activate even the farthest portion of the campus. It is for this reason that, instead of spreading or relocating the building in another site, we propose to confirm its location and operate a reformulation of its role by relating it to the park and the whole surroundings. The building type itself wills to make the difference in enacting the symbolic role of this faculty within the campus.

Bouwkunde has the biggest number of students among the faculties of TU Delft. The fire event and the loose of that building stigmatize its epicenter role. We do not want to commemorate a site but to explore its potential, confident that, even without proposing a flag building, this place will be a cultural institution so powerful that it will even influence the flows and life of the whole campus park. The building destination melts into the park and becomes a cultural pivot, by fully opening the “opportunity forum” to the outside.