We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our  "Vancouver Affordable Housing Challenge" competition – Arjan Hebly and Sitong Luo from Netherlands!

Arjan Hebly and Sitong Luo from Netherlands

Already in 1986 I, Arjan Hebly (1958) started, after graduation at the TU Delft, my own office, Hebly Theunissen architecten, together with my late wife Karin Theunissen. Our main working field was, and still is, making plans for the renewal of old city districts, which joins the perspectives from urban planning, landscape design, and architecture. We did most of our projects in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft. The rest of our projects took place in several other places in the Netherlands, like in Sneek, a provincial city in the North of Holland.

In 2012 we finished the restoration of the famous Justus van Effen Housing Complex about Spangen in Rotterdam (together with Molenaar & Co). The Complex which is so well known for its ‘street in the air’ gallery that won several prizes includings the ‘Knoll, World Monuments Fund’ prize in 2016. Nowadays my main occupation is the renewal of the extensive typical garden city Vreewijk in Rotterdam (about 1100 dwellings). Combined with this designing practice we did research in the field of architecture and urbanism, which brought several cherished publications and research. In addition to my practice and research, teaching at different schools including TU Delft and academies, is always a joy for me.

Till the crises of 2008 our office had about ten employees. After 2013 I changed the way of working radically. I work on my own and collaborate now with different firms to do the specialized work and together with co-designers, like Sitong Luo (1991) for this project. The focus on the design is a quite liberating experience, I must say.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Architecture is like a whirl for me, an endless profession with deep and down to earth aspects. I organized a series of lectures under the title ‘Architecture from Soil to Sky’, which in its essence defines my view on architecture. Architecture has fundamental impacts on the lives of people, the city, and environments. So, it is a profession with substantial responsibility to the people, the living, and the death nature. This weekend I saw a lively book market on a square I designed. It gave me great satisfaction. It is something that goes beyond architectural styles, it’s about life, it is as Mozart put it ‘There are only two kinds of music (architecture), good ones and bad ones.’

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Architectural practice is great but sometimes also a bit mind blocking. I use competitions to open and employ all my creative architectural skills again. The Vancouver task was perfect suiting for this purpose. It hits all the complexity of nowadays urban, social, and environmental challenges. A competition I do to develop myself and it is very nice that you know that your plan is seriously evaluated by experts on that what is important for you, namely, that magnificent profession you once chose, Architecture.

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