Home / News / Drive – Dutch Design Week – 26-10-2016


On the 26th of October, Futura took part of the DRIVE-festival, which is a part of the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. DRIVE is the annual Design Research & Innovation festival for designers, researchers and their colleagues. Multiple speakers were invited to give a short presentation during the session, and to take part in a debate.


Foto @ Chantal Bekker / ClickNL

Introduction by Fred Schoorl, BNA

Fred Schoorl, the director of BNA, opened the session with the following question: ‘Is there a future for the architecture industry and how will this future look like?’. He proposed three statements for the audience. The majority agreed with the first statement: the architect is a creative entrepreneur, not an artist. The second statement was that there is a good chance for architects to appropriate their added value. Someone in the room did not agree, and said that architects should be more entrepreneurial. The last statement was as follows: the architect as an inseparable piece of the value chain is under threat. An architect from the audience agreed with the statement. Other stakeholders are trying to broaden their role and take over from the architect. However, the architect is a very important part in the value chain.

Key findings research project by Kristina Lauche

Kristina Lauche presented a short overview of the key findings of the futurA research. In this research, the possible future roles of architects were analysed from three different perspectives:

  • Professional identity. We research how the identity of an architect related to taking on new roles. It appears that architects use different strategies in obtaining and reassessing their project roles and that this is influences strongly by their identity.
  • Value creation processes. We looked at how value was defined, created an appropriated. What we saw was that architects are very good in creating value and being conscious of this, but the appropriation appears to be a complex process.
  • We research the question on how architects can change their project role actively and legitimise this changed role

To redefine the role of the architect, the comparison was made with the mouse, the gazelle and elephant. The process starts as a mouse, which new roles and structures being defined. Subsequently, this is being scaled upwards to a gazelle, where changes happen on project level. Lastly, the elephant follows, which represents the changes in on the level of the whole architecture industry. Changing towards a new role is compared with a big, slow elephant, as it costs a lot of time to implement change.


Varnish (2014) Life cycles of companies. Afbeelding van The Weekly Acumen

Lastly, Kristina Lauche presented the futurA toolkit, which is being developed to make the results of the research applicable for practice. De toolkit’s aim is to support architects and client in making conscious decisions in regards to their business model and governance structure, on both project as organisational level.

The changing role from the perspective of an architecture firm by Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV

Nathalie de Vries tells the participants about how MVRDV looks at issues from the futurA research. MVDRV is an international architecture firm with offices in the Netherlands, China and soon in France. The firm does different projects, such as large and small scale urban projects, full service projects, interior, landscape, masterplans, new build, transformation et cetera. The architectonic identity is seen as the product that is essential for MVRDV. This identity distinguishes the firm from other architecture firms. The product is the core value of the architect. Besides this, the development process of the product is no less important than the final result. In 2008, MVRDV worked with new clients all the time. Now, the architecture firm has worked before with 35% of their current clients. By improving their international marketing strategy, this percentage has shifted. Lastly, Nathalie emphasised the importance for architects to be open to client, other disciplines and trends.

Future scenarios: technology, ecology and economy by Fred Schoorl, BNA

Fred Schoorl announces the new future scenarios that are developed by BNA. The scenarios concern the impact of the economy and technology on architecture firms. They looked at relevant developments and translated them into four scenarios: Next Game, Hacked Design, Slow Data and Trojan Horse. De question posed here was: what are we going to do in the next 10 to 15 years in the architecture industry? Do we even exist then? The scenarios are displayed with two axes: European economic growth/stagnation, and technological developments (incremental or disruptive).

Educating the new generation of architects by Peter Russel, TU Delft

Peter Russel is the dean of the faculty of Architecture at the TU Delft. He presented his views on how the discussed topics could be part of the educational programme of architecture. Peter also sees architecture as a big, slow elephant: architecture will be taught in the same way as 200 years before. However, they will take the developments into consideration. For example, he wants to keep the different design studios, but incorporate more online education, such as online design studios. Besides this, more focus needs to be put on the multidisciplinary aspect of building projects. “The brainwash our students get through, is not the same brainwash others go through”(Peter Russel). Dealing with how you want to solve a project and how others want to solve a project is an important skill. There also must be more flexibility for students, so that they are able to do what they want. Quicker reactions are needed on what society needs. Finally, students must be made aware of their responsibilities as engineers.

Debate on the future of the architecture profession


Foto @ Chantal Bekker / ClickNL







After the break, Jasper van Kuijk started the debate. Jasper is a comedian, columnist and teacher at the faculty of Industrial Design in Delft. He told about how annoying it can be when it is unclear what you should do with a product. Aesthetic quality is not sufficient. However, states Jasper, this is what actually happens in architecture. It is not discussed how the product should be used. The main focus is on the exterior and on visual aspects. But, how does the building work for the people who use it? Therefore, judge a building on its performance.

All of the speakers, and also Juliette Bekkering of the TU Eindhoven, were asked to join the debate. Someone from the public asked why they are only talking about the future and not about showing what the architecture profession is doing to the people. It is important to determine the value of architects and to see how things can be improved. The tool of futurA can help make people aware of the values. Peter Russel added that the university also looks towards to horizon and to possible problems that can arise. It is the responsibility of the education to make students aware of the skills they might need. Kristina suggests to bring an economic perspective into the courses. If a student is interested in this topic, he should be able to develop himself more. The architecture profession is also a business, but nog everybody is interested in this. Lastly, in a reaction on the intermezzo of Jasper, the use of buildings are discussed. This is an important aspect for an architect. However, according to Jasper van Kuijk, it seems as if the architecture professions is behind 20 years on project development in regards to the focus on the end users. He emphasises the difference between user-oriented design and user-centred design. And pay attention to this as well: the client is not the user!