Meet… #1 | Maarten Lever

Every now and then, the employees of our agency give a look behind the scenes in ‘Get to know…’. Maarten Lever, architect at GROUP A, takes the lead. He lives with his girlfriend and two children in Amsterdam, the city where he has lived practically all his life. His personal portfolio mainly includes renovation projects. ‘They have something ragged, something unpolished, that appeals to me enormously.’ One of those projects is the renovation of the 16 metro stations of the Amsterdam East Line; a project that is now entering the implementation phase. I presented Maarten with six difficult choices.

For a new design assignment
ideas for a new design come to me naturally
– I actually sit down for the first sketches

Maarten usually gets the most ideas while working, when he discusses the assignment with others. ‘I am not one of those people who know on the first day what a design will look like. It takes a while before I get a feel for the task,’ Maarten says. ‘On the other hand, I don’t easily let go of an idea once it’s there. The feeling for a good approach comes sooner when I am not at work.’ Maarten travels by train, but he covers the distance between the station and the GROUP A office by bicycle. ‘Usually while cycling I realize how I want to approach something, or what the best solution is.’

My colleagues describe me as
someone who is up for a joke
– a serious person

“I’m curious about the answer to this question!” Maarten laughs. ‘I think my colleagues describe me as a fairly serious person. I like humor when it better reflects reality, not when it is a way of not saying everything. The first one is difficult, so I’m usually to the point.’

They live up to their image: a bit old-fashioned, special and creative
They are actually very hip people, they know exactly what the current trends are

A difficult choice, as it turns out, and so Maarten opts for a mix between the two. He does not believe that an architect only provides a drawing, an idea. According to him, it is about taking a building significantly further. As an architect you work on projects that involve many parties. A striking quote from Maarten’s student days is: ‘An architect knows very little about an awful lot, in a project in which he is surrounded by people who know an awful lot about very little.’ Maarten: ‘Hyperbolic, but I certainly believe that there is a there is some truth in it.’

When I walk to the construction site of my project
– I am proud of the result, my design comes to life
I always see areas for improvement, both in construction and design

According to Maarten, you often have a good impression of the broad outline of a design from an early stage. Whether something works or not often lies in the small details. ‘In a material that has been chosen well, or that has something exceptional, something unexpected about it, which takes the design to a higher level. A building must evoke a feeling that you cannot immediately place, while at the same time you have the feeling that it should have always been there.’

The biggest challenge for an architect is…
– always coming up with something innovative
sticking to a certain style

It is a major challenge to ensure that all parts of the design are connected in a deeper way. If an architect wants to control everything, this can also result in a static, forced building. There must also be room for change. ‘I find it telling how beautiful I find buildings that have not been designed, where there is no coherence between different parts. So it’s not about the style, but about a good tension between sticking to the design on the one hand and paying close attention to when to let go on the other. Only then will you get a beautiful new design,’ Maarten says enthusiastically.

On my free Saturday
I mainly do fun things with friends, family or family
– I am thinking about new designs and current projects

A question of conscience. ‘I never completely let go of projects I’m working on, although I try to put them aside as much as possible. An ambiguous motif; because the better you manage to distance yourself from something, the more likely it is that you will get further with it once you pick it up again,’ Maarten concludes.

Back to overview