Modern architecture turns public space into a communication platform, motivates to change culture, and joins community encouraging people for collaboration. This is the main philosophy of J. MAYER H Architects. The leader of the studio, architect Jürgen Mayer H. strives for extending the limits of architectural discipline and expanding sphere of its influence.
Founded in 1996 in Berlin, J. MAYER H Architects concentrates on projects that are at the intersaction of architecture, new technologies and communication. Mayer believes that in everything from urban planning schemes to installation of objects with new materials, the relationship between nature, human body, and technology compose the background for creating a modern space.
iDEASDESIGN! team had the honour to get answers to some questions and we’re happy to publish them. Jürgen Mayer H. has told us about himself, his projects and his vision of modern architecture.
– When you were a child did you always want to become an architect?
I grew up in the 80s and 90s and it was a moment where we were surrounded with a lot of critical discussions about architecture. My generation went through the 80s with a somber outlook on the future. In the shadow of the Cold War, we were talking about anti-nuclear demonstrations, dying forests under acid rain, and Pershing Rockets in Germany. It was all about fear and protection. I wanted to reclaim a future that was taken away when we were young, and I was glad to witness a wide range of people in our generation trying to catch that moment of curiosity about the future. I guess all this lead me to become so interested in our built environment.
– Can you describe an evolution in your work from when you began?
In the beginning the scale of our project were small, often related to art installations and objects. We are now able to expand our investigations and projects in to a larger urban scale, or even over an entire country. However, it all started with my years at universities and with amazing people around me to learn and explore.It started with my studies at Stuttgart University. I had a very solid engineering based education in Germany. Then I went to The Cooper Union in NYC. Later I finished my studies in Princeton with a Masters degree.
– What books do you have on your bedside table?
These days it is 1913 by Florian Illies, and Urbanisms of Color: New Geographies by Gareth Doherty.
– Do you read design and architecture magazines?
Every day there are so many publications arriving in our office that show our work, and it is fascinating to see them in always different contexts and discourses. Here are some examples: Bauwelt, Pin-Up Magazine, Mark Magazin, IW and Azure, Wallpaper and ARCH+, uncube and Architect, to name a few.
– Describe the most effective way of presenting a project.
Explaining a project is always the best way to get engaged in a discussion about a project. And new ideas appear. Designing and experimenting includes many media that all become part of the presentation: physical models, drawings by hand and computer and sometimes just walking in the woods.
– Where do you work on your projects?
Everywhere, and in teams at the office and with specialists abroad.
– Which project has given you the most satisfaction?
Metropol Parasol. Located on an archaeological window into the history of Seville, the parasols cover the very heart of the city for a new urban place for the 21st century. Metropol Parasol covers history, hosts the everyday life in the food market or in commercial spaces, offers open public space for events and contemplation, and it refers to a ‘visionary’ culture with rising structures to elevate visitors onto a panoramic Seville city view on the roof-scape. All these different programs are open and active at various times of day and night. It is now one of the hot spots for people from Seville and abroad. At Metropol Parasol social media dynamics and public space collapse into a packed place where people meet, discuss and relax, with cafes, shops and concerts – a real urban democratic open cathedral.
– Which architects from the past you love the most?
One important inspiration for our work is Frederik Kiesler who´s work spans from objects to exhibition design and architectural speculation. Especially the endless house is a key project for rethinking the boundaries of architecture. And there are also many Brazilian luminaires that rotate in our orbit, like Oscar Niemeyer‘s Vertebrae chair, the landscapes of Burle Marx and the designs of Sergio Rodrigues and Ricardo Fasanello.
– Do you have an advice for young architects?
Stay curious. It´s good to know that you don’t know really, and that goes for the future and for the past.
– How do you see an ideal architectural future?
The beauty about the future is its nature of unpredictability. I don´t believe in forecasts but I am looking forward to being surprised by what new technologies and the digitalization will generate in production, creation and communication – the way we negotiate the future of our cultures.
Portrait: Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert, email@example.com
Metopol Parasol: David Franck, Nikkol Rot for Holcim