Meet… #24 | Sebastian Bok

In the ‘Meet … series, GROUP A employees respond to a number of questions about their work and private life. This time it is Sebastian Bok’s turn. Sebastian lives in Rotterdam and graduated from TU Delft. Since July 2020, he has been working as an architect on various projects at GROUP A, including a competition plan for a new metro station in Munich and the Den Herd community center in Bladel.

A design task in which I can fully indulge is
Working on a complex task with a large team. Finding simple solutions to complex problems motivates me. Understanding the complexity of a large task and abstracting it into a single drawing or concept sketch is essential. I love to work in a large team with different personalities and opinions. The process of talking, discussing and philosophizing with each other results in great designs. As a young designer it’s great to work in a large team where you are able to learn from each other.

When a project is finished
I am proud of the result. Together with the team we are always looking for better solutions. After a project is completed new ideas will always arise. You ask yourself: Could this be done better or differently? A design is ‘in that sense’ never really finished. Sometimes the trick is to stop designing at the right moment and to be proud of what has been produced. As long as I’m able to back our design decisions for 100% during the process and the bigger concept is visible throughout the building in every detail, I’m happy with the result.

With this architect I would like to have a good conversation
Rem Koolhaas. In particular in his younger years as a researcher and lecturer. I recommend to watch a documentary from around the turn of the century where he researches the urbanization of Lagos, a mega-city in the making. Very interesting!

If I could choose I would like to live in
My self-designed apartment in a high tower on the Maas! People often complain about the lack of a garden when living in high-rise buildings. I would be satisfied with a smaller outdoor space high above the ground as long as the city has a wide range of qualitative public spaces.  The residential building should also have collective facilities such as a shared roof terrace or public bar. The city’s public domain is especially important for young people. In a park, on a square or at a pop podium, we develop ourselves and meet our peers. As an architect at GROUP A, I like to contribute to new towers with a public/collective program accessible to everyone.

The most beautiful material to incorporate in a design is
Sustainable, natural and circular materials. It should be the ambition to use this type of materials in each project. Applying natural materials is essential as our society has the ambition to make the world more sustainable in view of climate change. A nuance is that sustainability also means that a material or product is durable in time. In that perspective, depreciated buildings or parts of it could be reused. This is not ‘natural’ in biological terms of substance, but the idea in fact is ’natural’. You don’t just throw something of value away.

My main ambition is
To design timeless architecture. A timeless design has a social meaning that can endure multiple generations. Its meaning may however evolve over time. The meaning of a design can change completely between one generation and the next. Let’s take transformation projects in inner-city harbors for example. Unused warehouses, which used to serve as storage for merchandise, are rapidly being transformed into modern lofts. Architecture that facilitates these new types of use, with only modest modifications compared to the initial design, is to me the essence of timelessness. Trend-sensitive buildings are often less adaptive. A building should not only be designed for the use of one exclusive user but also with its future users in mind. Buildings with a multifunctional character often prove to be the most timeless.

On a free Saturday afternoon I
Go outside and spend time at home to read a book. These days I tend to split my weekend in two parts. On Saturday I go outside to eat some fish at the local market and surround myself with people. Or I go for a walk on the beach and immerse myself in nature to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. On Sunday I often stay at home to read a book and give myself ‘head space’. And put the house in order. That way I start the week freshly!

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