The Architectural League Questionnaire: Ben van Berkel

Ben van Berkel is a co-founding partner, with Caroline Bos, of UNStudio.  Click here to read the interview.

What word or phrase do you most overuse?
I need to come back to that one.

If you could have designed any building in the world, what would it be?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint just one building because I’ve always appreciated specific aspects of buildings, like how the details came together in the work of Wright, or how Mies was so clever with the roof, so there is no one, individual building.

What typeface most represents you?

What is your favorite airport?
Schiphol, of course.

What is the one thing you always pack when you travel?
My running shoes.  Everyday I run.  40 minutes.

What architect from the past do you most admire?
Someone nobody knows.

Do you want to give a name?
Clorindo Testa.

What is your favorite city or town?
Lecce. In Italy.

If you could own a masterpiece of art, what would it be?
It’s the same problem as with pinpointing just one building. There are so many art pieces I appreciate….It goes from Malevich’s work, like the Black Square, to recent work by Pipolotti Rist, a very good friend of mine. I would have a hard time to pinpoint just one art piece.

What book has had the most influence on you?
Same thing as with buildings and art. My problem is that I read three books at the same time and then I make my own ideas out of them.

What is the last song or album you listened to?
Kings of Convenience, an album called Declaration of Dependence. It’s really interesting, a mixture of a sort of an influence of Californian music of the 70s and at the same time very contemporary. Very rich in its vocals.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Shoes, because I always walk.

Name one obsessive architect behavior that you have.
That I can’t do without production. I need to produce at least twenty ideas a day.  I write them down. I always sketch. I always sketch.

What is your idea of misery?
To be only in hotels. I don’t want to be only in hotels. You can imagine.

What is your idea of happiness?
To be uplifted by all my good friends.

If you weren’t an architect, what would you be?