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Archis and Dutch Architecture (2002)

Archis and Dutch Architecture

Vitruvius, 2002

"What could be a decisive side-effect of the mediatisation of Architecture, is that in the end architectural design can better be done with publishing strategies, than through designing space. Architecture and publishing in the new age are both focussed on creating social and semiotic relations. There is no distinction anymore between primary production and secondary coverage.  There is also a waning distinction between the physical and the cybernetic.  These realms merge and this will go on till the distinction is forgotten. If this is true, there will be a completely practice. What I do as participant in design work, is not 'my other practice', but another modality of the same ambition: creating social relation in a meaningful, liberating and critical way. To produce public domain..."

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Agitation, Power, Space (2007)

Agitation, Power, Space


"Well, I think it’s very important to acknowledge the necessity of asking why in general. In a culture where people, at a very early stage of their careers, are forced to stick to their subject – or to a specific role – there is, in my view, an extreme urgency to keep asking why. Why, in a way, is a very innocent question and a very childish question – but it is also a very important question. It doesn’t allow you to take things for granted in terms of the role you play in society, or the service you provide to society and things like that. It always brings you back to fundamental questions about your presence, your role, your possibilities – etc. etc. So it’s an extremely important question, and, I would hope, a very obvious question – but, unfortunately, it is not so common anymore."

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What Ole Bouman Wants

Archined, 2007

"I increasingly see a connection between my family history and my ideas about architecture. My parents came from cities that were destroyed – my mother from Hamburg and my father from Arnhem. Both of them had little choice but to look to the future; through denial they tried to regain their grip on the world. To them, post-war reconstruction and modern architecture were proof that life had started again in a new world. I grew up in 1950s suburbia, visible evidence of a new, better future, and tangible proof that one’s destiny lies in one’s own hands. When I studied art history I came across examples in which architecture turned out to be the most powerful means of shaping not only one’s personal destiny, but also that of one’s people or even of all mankind. No doubt, I’m overly sensitive about that ambition."

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What Ole Bouman Wants (2007)
Met de grootste kwesties van onze tijd (2007)

Architectuur moet zich bemoeien met de grootste kwesties van onze tijd

De Groene Amsterdammer, 2007

"... Wat gebeurt er met onze samenleving nu we verder vergrijzen? Wat betekent dat voor de vitaliteit van de samenleving, voor de omgang met elkaar, voor het benutten van de openbare ruimte? Of neem een kwestie als migratie: wat gebeurt er met de samenleving als een steeds grotere groep mensen andere waarden aanhangt of een andere taal spreekt? Of zich andere doelen in het leven stelt? Of denk aan kwesties als digitalisering: wat gebeurt er met de ruimte om ons heen als we steeds meer draadloos met elkaar communiceren en we steeds minder face to face contact met elkaar hebben? Vroeger was architectuur heel belangrijk om een setting aan te bieden, om elkaar te ontmoeten en zich te kunnen oriënteren in het leven."

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'To Go Beyond or Not to Be' (2009)

'To Go Beyond or Not to Be'

Unsolicited Architecture

Architectural Design, 2009

"What interests me the most is an assessment of the cultural and historical dynamics in which architecture finds itself today. These dynamics, of a mind-boggling nature, affect everything that we consider architecture or architectural: its definition, its mandate, its output, its corpus of knowledge, its education, its inspiration, its legitimacy, its techniques and methods, its social status, its communication.

It’s stunning how a discipline that we know to be so slow, expensive and respectable, today manifests itself as a swirl that doesn’t stop anywhere. Buildings become 'effects', interiors become 'terminals', cities become instant skylines – everything at a pace that ridicules any reflexive attitude at the price of becoming completely irrelevant or obsolete. "

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On Survival (2010)

On Survival

Archinect, 2010

"From your different observations I will focus on the growing obsolescence of the well-known dialectics through which we have understood architecture for so long: functional use of generic software vs. subtle craftsmanship, self-referential philosophy vs. social theory, educated vs. dumb. Their obsolescence rapidly becomes clear. I could add: context vs object, figure vs ground, analogue vs digital, architecture vs plain building. They were useful distinctions as long as both sides were serving clear values within a legitimate system: artistry to match human ingenuity, and a social impulse to serve human needs. Civilization can not dispense of either of them. However, if the elite does not take on its social responsibilities, than the elite is not an elite. If you give yourself a bonus for failure, the end is always near."

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Engaged Citizens as Stakeholders (2013)

The Most Important Stakeholders are the Engaged Citizens

Danish Architecture Center, 2013

"I do believe, that the real stakeholders of institutions like the NAI are engaged and active citizens. Any person, who becomes interested, emigrates or escapes into his or her own world of specialism. Our job is to encourage their continued participation and their reliance on the eternal energy of architecture and design to change things.


If you ask me about the stakeholder, of course you can say that it is the visitor or the participating architect. But the real stakeholders are the people, who keep their eyes open for new things, and who are looking for inspiration to change our society for the better."

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To Beyond or Not to Be (2015)

To Beyond or Not to Be

Outlook, 2015

"To emphasize this vision, we coined a motto that has been upheld ever since: To Beyond or Not to Be. It’s the wording of a quest for a raison d’etre, that can be found on the spine of every issue of the magazine since its beginning. It was meant to convince people that ours was not just one of the many missions for architecture. It’s the one that pre-empts survival. Any architecture that cannot prove how it makes sense or is relevant is a dying architecture; a narcissistic architecture that recycles its heroes, sticks to its routines, ignores the course of history, approaches the abyss of ridicule and eventually oblivion. [...] To beyond or not to be, is a about a hint of redemption and an imperative of perseverance at once. Volume’s claim is that only a boundless curiosity can save architecture."

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Passion for design adding fuel to creative credentials

China Daily, 2020

As a designer who originally trained as a cultural historian, Ole Bouman knew the potential of art and architecture to provoke positive changes in his studies of the historical interaction between architecture and human aspiration.


The designer from the Netherlands has more than 35 years of experience in architecture and design. He has worked in a variety of roles such as an editor, writer, curator and lecturer. He was also formerly director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the creative director of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, also known as UABB.

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Passion for Design Adding Fuel to Creative Credentials (2020)
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