Post Piraeus

A publication celebrating the 20th anniversary of a ground breaking housing design by Hans Kollhoff

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of completion of the Piraeus building, designed by the German architect prof. Hans Kollhoff, HvdH together with Jan Peter Wingender and Alexander Pols took the initiative for a publication exploring the heritage of this building.

In 1994, the housing block Piraeus was completed to the design of Hans Kollhoff and Christian Rapp. It was a blow. It took two German architects to demonstrate that a design did not need to be at odds with the Dutch construction culture. Piraeus must be taken as a pivotal point in modern history, after which the thinking on the production of buildings and city were newly charged. In the two deceades after that, Dutch architecture flourished in an unprecedented way. A cultural infrastructure was conceived and also dismantled again. In hindsight it must be noted that cultural policies have not been successfully connected to something like a day to day construction culture. Architecture as a cultural force seemed to be something that could be imposed on construction culture and was advocated by specialists at great distance from that practice.

In 2017, it is crystal clear that architects cannot rely on cultural experts and must show themselves what their unique skills are and how they can be in effective in practice. This situation formed the occasion for ten architects to come together. Acknowledging that the time of great ideas is over, they they started to work without a manifesto or a principle statement, simply departing from a shared interest in current construction practice in the city of today. They met, discussed the work Hans Kollhoff, thought and made visual interpretations of his work. They wrote pieces on the relevance of Kollhoff’s work to themes present in their own work. The practical value of design was their starting point. They don’t regard design as an autonomous action against ‘culture’, but as labour which is embedded in a broader construction culture of development, building, design, talking and writing. The result is a collection of drawn and written insights with the title Post Piraeus.

The title of HvdH’s contribution is Versatility in the Age of Sustainability. It is demonstrated how the thermal facade shell of three Kollhoff designed buildings add to their solidity and how this approach returns in the designs for De Grienden en Werkbundstadt Berlin.

Post Piraeus was edited by Endry van Velzen and HvdH and appeared in Dutch and English. Post Piraeus is the result of the collective effort of:

Mark de Bokx

Jacq de Brouwer

Floris Cornelissen

Job Floris

Jeroen Geurst

Hans van der Heijden

Jo Janssen

Alexander Pols

Gus Tielens

Endry van Velzen

Jan Peter Wingender