Liesbeth van der Pol

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NAi, 2002 - Architecture - 240 pages
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Liesbeth van der Pol designs buildings with strong characters, buildings "that are not ashamed of themselves," buildings intended to add something of themselves, something unique even, to the human environment in which they stand. This unique, structural stance is perhaps most clearly borne out by Red Rascals, her striking storage building for the Netherlands Maritime Museum, and Aquartis, which stands at Entrepotdok in Amsterdam. In this monograph, twelve of Van der Pol's most noteworthy projects are singled out and illustrated with photographs, plans and drawings. Also featured are a considerable number of watercolors by the architect. Two essayist describe and analyze Van der Pol's work: cultural historian Eelco Beukers plumbs the deeper layers of her architecture, while architectural critic Geert Bekaert places her buildings in an architectural-historical context. Although Van der Pol's buildings are extremely varied, with few evident similarities between them, the two authors discover surprising constants in her oeuvre, ones that are less related to the buildings' outward appearance than to the architect's manner of seeing, her design approach, and her deep-rooted ideals regarding the relationship between people and the built environment. One such constant is reflected during the design process, when Van der Pol invariably proceeds forward from a grounded understanding of how users will perceive her buildings. For instance, she considers residential districts not primarily as ground plans but from eye-level, the perspective from which their users actively see, hear, and feel them. Another constant can be seen in how Van der Pol expressly configures each project in a housing development as an unambiguous, high-powered building, rather than as a mere bringing together of a large number of dwellings.

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