Nanne de Ru
architect and partner Powerhouse Company

by Christa van Vlodrop

1. Background

I come from a small village in the Betuwe. The clay was hard, the ground was always wet and cold. Beautiful mornings on the bike to school. When I was around eight, I lived some time in Berkeley California, USA. What an atmosphere and what a culture. Back to the Betuwe was brutal. I made lots of furniture as a teenager. My teacher advised me crafts: works of Wright as well as Rietveld and Doesburg. I made 1:50 scale models of their work. After that I had to become an architect. I was fascinated by the Bauhaus and the idea of industrial craft. I decided to go to the HTS to master the basics of structural design first. With my graduation project, I won the ‘Vitae Bouw Award’. After having joined One Architecture for some time, I started studying at the the Berlage Institute, where I obtained my masters in 2002. There I met a Frenchman by the name of Charles Bessard, my best friend. In 2005 we set up Powerhouse Company, he in Copenhagen and I in Rotterdam. Now we work with 16 people in seven countries on villas, yachts, office buildings and cities. Winner of the 'Rotterdam-Maaskantprijs voor Jonge Architecten' 2011!

2. Why are you fascinated with
architecture / urban development?

Architecture is the ultimate combination of spatial composition, ergonomics, engineering and design. Together, this creates the full range of experiences – from sheer pleasure and intimacy to discomfort and amazement.

3. Best city

Berlin - freedom and structure, mass and individuality. A heterogeneous urban fabric that is always evolving, unlike, for example, the crystallized centers of Amsterdam and Paris.

4. Most beautiful building

Salk Institute by Louis Kahn.

5. Most beautiful park or square

Tahrir square in Cairo. Public spaces create the ability to bring people together in a very intense way. Squares are the living rooms of the city, this is where one meets the other residents.

6. Best public facility / urban infill

Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

7. Best 20th and 21st century innovations

20th century: phone
21st century: iPhone

8. Next groundbreaking innovation

Viable solar-cells linked to local hydrogen fuel cells.

9. About the future of cities

Wheras the 20th century was all about the health of the city by segregation, the 21st century is about compressing the city with mixed functionality. The successful cities of the future are cities that can accommodate a wide variety of microclimates for many different types of entrepreneurs.

10. Personal contribution to urban development

We are making a number of plans trying to generate new urban qualities through new land development principles. As to the tension between group and individual, more attention is now being given to the wishes of the individual customer. Question being, is this at the expense of the public area or indeed does this strengthen the case.

11. Guerrilla in the city?

Guerrilla sounds very romantic, but is perceived to be of questionable tactics within martial arts science. Ruthlessness, confusion and use of civilians as part of the battle strategy, may cause a certain degree of anarchy and lawlessness. Modernists, like van Eesteren, fully realised that if one would want change, one would have to write the law. Thus our basic zoning arose from van Eesteren’s ideas of the functional city: segregation. If we were to change anything there is no point in Guerrillas, only the seemingly impossible task of rewriting the law: ‘Take no prisoners!’