Well I don’t care for virtual architect as much as I don’t care about Hospital Architect or any type of specialisation category. I’m interested in everything, and I actually prefer to work on very diverse projects at the same time. I think the virtual tag also came because a couple of years ago everything that had to do with computers and the internet and any communication technology was considered NEW! and VIRTUAL! and I just happened to be designing online spaces for online clients and most of this work was focused on blurring distinctinons between real, virtual, actual, perceived and imagined, and all of it was just different descriptions for potential buildings. Almost everybody has smiled at a cell phone or an instant messenger window so there is not need to separate the space of a text conversation from the space of a coffee shop chat because my reality is always virtual to you. I am still very inspired by the internet, as I am inspired by forests, and beaches and summer skies and strange buildings in weird edge condition, or websites that are art pieces and all the time I try to mix these things up, the experience of being lost in forest vs getting lost in a chatroom.
A lot of your work seems to refer to nature, like Blue Wave,
I’m really interested in complete environments and in brand identity, and natural places such as forests and beaches have great brand recognition qualities. So when I’m designing a space I tend to see it more a world that could be extended infinitely, so at the same time I’m interested in reinventing the qualities of a beach in a building but also designing a beach or a forest from scratch. So in Neen world, which was a place for neenstars to meet and chat, a lot of the homes became structures based on idealized natural environments. The entrance was a forest of nametrees, trees with a neenstars name carved on them like you find in the woods, and when you clicked them you got teleported to that particular house. So in a way its very natural but very artificial, and somehow about a lifestyle structured by chance. Because Neen world was very much a sketchbook where I tested different ideas in real time with a real public, right now I’m developing these sketches further like in the Cloud House which comes from both nature and the web. It started because I liked the shape of the clouds in Rafael Rozendaal’s whywashesad.com and I had already done a house for Rafael based on this shape, a simple container with clouds cut out to make windows. The as it evolved I turned the whole container into a cloud shape and somehow it evolved to this corbusian idea of the house on pilotis because clouds like to be off the ground and also I’ve worked a lot on these half finished abandoned buildings you find in the mediterranean, so the cloud house has evolved in this gypsy un-finished ruin, a concrete structure that may or may not be habitable, or maybe it is a place for camping, and maybe retrocatively inspired by Constants’ “Model for a Gypsy Camp” which I hadnt seen but I’d site it as a major accidental influence. In these speculative projects I like to make different versions of buildings because I like to keep the direction that they could evolve open ended.
How would you describe yourself: architect, artist, designer?
Well I always hesitate just in case I change my mind later on! I think I could fit even more professions into the question and still feel that I’m limiting myself. But seriously, everything I do is in some way a description of a structure, a building or a space, though sometimes that building takes the form of a print or a DVD in a gallery, or it is represented by a piece of furniture. So I’m just an architect.
You seem to be designing new things non-stop but you are not building so much. Is this the classic case of the young architect who waits to build the first building?
Yes and no. A lot of the things that I’ve designed seem like proposals for projects when in fact the project is complete, like Chelsea and Neen World which were online communities, built and inhabited for quite a while. Other projects like the Pause space inside fargfabriken in