Winter 2016-17: rooms
Summer 2016: House of Books
Winter 2015-16: Harbor
Summer 2015: Sketch
Winter 2014-15: Memory
Summer 2014: Elements
Spring 2014: Beginnings
Winter 2014: Colour
Autumn 2013: Small HOUSE
Summer 2013: Reflection

Spring 2013: (in)visible
January 2013: Street
November_December 2012: Dutch Buildings
October 2012: Dutch city

September 2012Dutch Landscape
August 2012Shelter
June-July 2012: Pilgrimage
May 2012Landscape
April 2012: Nest
March 2012: Early spatial memories
February 2012: Writing place


Winter 2016-17: rooms
Writingplace investigates the rooms we have inhabited, temporarily or permanently, by their architectural specificities.

“What does it mean, to live in a room? Is to live in a place to take possession of it? What does taking possession of a place mean? As from when does somewhere become truly yours? Is it when you’ve put your three pairs of socks to soak in a pink plastic bowl? Is it when you’ve heated up your spaghetti over a camping-gaz? Is it when you’ve used up all the non-matching hanger in the cupboard? Is it when you’ve drawing-pinned to the wall an old postcard showing Carpaccio’s ‘Dream of St Ursula’? Is it when you’ve experienced there the throes of anticipation, or the exaltations of passion, or the torments of a toothache? Is it when you’ve hung suitable curtains up on the windows, and put up the wallpaper, and sanded the parquet flooring?”

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (London: Penguin Classics 2008) p 24. [Espèces d’Espaces Paris: Editions Galilée 1974]

Summer 2016: House of Books
The House of Books theme indeed ignites a whole series of reference projects: houses of books, houses for books, small libraries, installations and pavilions literally or metaphorically building upon the knowledge constructed in books.

Winter 2015-16: Harbor

a harbor is a place to depart from
the restless mind
finds an anchor point
in water, wind and expectation

a harbor is a place to stay
the contemplating mind
stares from the quay
to further coasts

a harbor is a place to arrive
on the edge of land and sea
with sights to elsewhere
we are home


Summer 2015: Sketch
Challenging the rather simplistic tendency to assign extremely different characterizations to northern and southern European cultures, the etymology of the word sketch, at least in the English language[1], is shared by a remarkable pair.

The 17th century Dutch schets, and the Italian term schizzo, mentioned by the dictionary as the origins of sketch, both feed on older Greek and Latin roots, and lead to an equally interesting conceptual contradiction. Sketches are usually assumed to be done simply or hastily, yet most definitions coincide in their ability to reveal essential characteristics of an object, situation or idea.

Quick and brief, yet clear and deep, sketches operate in a realm akin to that of poetry, favouring understanding over thoroughness and setting the elemental before what is dispensable.

Accounts, blueprints, cartoons, charts, copies, depictions, descriptions, illustrations; paintings, pictures, pieces, portrayals, summaries, versions or vignettes; the many equivalent[2] terms that meet the notion of sketch (including the French essai, origin of essay, meaning attempt) speak of an act of controlled openness, or sharp yet limited focus.

Given the relation of this positively disturbing figure with several of the Writingplace’s most recent concerns, we have decided to focus our attention on sketches during the next couple of months. The results of this emphasis should provide enough material to feed our desire to explore formats other than the blog, while allowing us to reaffirm the bonds that link our work with that of our friends and colleagues of the broader Writingplace network.
(see the post “Sketch” :

Spring 2014: Beginnings
For every new beginning something has to end
A tree sheds its dead leaves,
becoming nutrition for new life.

Depressing or hopeful?

But before this new beginning,
we must face that moment of condensed truth.
A point just before a start and after an end.

Fear and happiness, become one.
Tears and laughter mean the same.

Like a balcony in-between,
Neither one or the other

What do we find here?
Hope. Bliss. Oblivion. Nothing?

Let us cross this point,
Become nutrition for this new beginning.
Have courage,
say welcome,
It is here now.

Here and just beginning.

Winter 2014: Colour
This winter in the Netherlands has been pretty grey so far. Time for more colour to enliven our days. Strange that in architecture, colour is so seldom discussed even if it is part of every single piece of architecture.

The book Colour in Contemporary Architecture, edited by Susanne Komossa, Kees Rouw and Joost Hillen (Amsterdam: SUN Publishers 2009) is a welcome exception. The book provides an interesting view into projects, theories and manifestoes regarding colour in architecture, from the work of James Stirling to Luis Barragan, Steven Holl to Sauerbruch Hutton.

Waiting for spring, Writingplace wonders what colours tell, how they alter our experience of buildings and cities, or how we use them in architectural design.

Autumn 2013: small HOUSES
While the attention and pressure for the upcoming conference continues, we believe it is time for a new theme for the blog: small HOUSES.

With the primitive hut we find this small HOUSE as the archetype that all architecture embodies. Throughout history architects kept on exploring the boundaries and possibilities of the human condition that the small HOUSE provided. How much space do we need to live? What is important in a house? How far can we go until living conditions become impossible?

In Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel ‘House of Leaves’, we find that the opposite of the small HOUSE; a infinite space, deprives us of any form of attachment to the house. In order for the human conditions to thrive in a place, so that we can ‘live’, we need a scale of human proportions.

With this new theme, we want to explore, write, think, dream, of the small HOUSES that dwell in our minds and hearts. Surprise us with your stories or experiments and contribute to the blog.

Summer 2013: Reflection
Reflection has two meanings, that in the end are the same thing. It is both an image that re-presents reality, and a thought or meditation (most probably the fruit of that rebound of the immediate).

A mirror, a polished surface, still water, peaceful eyes – all operate on the prodigy of duplication, that allows the mind to realize the nature and essence of what is hardly grasped at once. This principle of proliferation (re-production, re-presentation, reflection), perhaps the most fertile of cognitive tools, tests our lucidity through complexity, debunking comfortable assumptions and weak readings.

Every idea, every thought, every image and belief, are seriously challenged by the mirror – a window, open to the cauterizing light of truth. Even reason is tested by reflections that transcend logic and render the mind useless, allowing the spirit to take over and our lives to open up to the realm of pure understanding. Yes, the mirror is also that: a threshold to poetry, a source of revelation.

reflection: kaleidoscope

Spring 2013: (in)visible
After a small winter sleep we move from the dutch landscape, city, building and street to an overall theme for the upcoming months: (in)visible

The theme derived out of the text ‘21 shameless observations for a 21ste century of Dutch architecture’, by Abdelkader Benali. This text was written for the launch of the ‘Jaarboek Architectuur 2011/12’ published by NAI Publishers. In the text Benali advocates for all the invisible buildings, the buildings that don’t take part in the traditional registers: ‘Invisible buildings bear their sorrow in silence. No one seems to bother, nobody notices them.’

Meanwhile Merleau-Ponty’s text The visible and the invisible provides a philosophical background to discuss aspects of our sensory perception and the intriguing relation between subject and object.

Within this theme we challenge everyone to consider the haptic qualities of our ((un)build) environment. Feel free to approach the theme within the different categories;  the creative exercise, theory, and book reviews for our digital library.


January 2013: Street
A new year, the second year of Writing Place. Our first associations in the new year: streets. The streets where we live, the street as a social space, the street as a universe.

November_December 2012: Dutch Buildings
In autumn 2012, writingplace makes jumps in scale. First, we reflected on the Dutch Landscape, in October we focused on the Dutch city, and finally in November-December, Dutch buildings were discussed for the series of events entitled “the Story of the Netherlands”. The final session, Dutch city (Het Verhaal van de Stad) was held in Paradiso, Amsterdam, December 15, 2012. The magazines produced by Writingplace for this occasion will soon be posted as pdf’s on

October 2012: Dutch city This month, Dutch cities will be our subject of observation and reflection. Indeed, in autumn 2012, writingplace makes jumps in scale. First, we reflected on the Dutch Landscape, this month we focus on the Dutch city, and finally, Dutch buildings will be discussed for the series of events entitled “the Story of the Netherlands”. The next session, Dutch city (Het Verhaal van de Stad) will be held in Paradiso, Amsterdam, November 24. More information on:

September 2012Dutch Landscape

Indeed, the Dutch landscape seems to be on our minds… Not only because we are based here, because we travel through this landscape every day or week, seeing the endless horizons through train windows, or because we keep on arriving here from faraway places, being struck once more, as always, by the crazy orthogonal patchwork of the fields, or because it is a setting for our design works. This month, our theme is also a real assignment: we will present some of our Dutch landscape texts at the “Story of the Netherlands” event in Paradiso, Amsterdam on Saturday, October 20th. For more information of this event, which features except writingplace also a number of interesting Dutch writers, architects and film makers, please check:

August 2012Shelter
Back to the bare essence of architecture – to offer shelter. Shelter for wind, rain, snow or heat. Or is shelter more than that, is it safe place, an “own” place, a home?

June-July 2012: Pilgrimage
On June 15, Diane Ghirardo lectured in Delft on Aldo Rossi, suggesting that in his drawings and architecture resided a pilgrim’s soul. Could it be true that architects are pilgrims indeed, searching for meaning in forms and spaces, following the built traces of our modern masters or eagerly trying to construct new trajectories? As the summer months tend to allow for travels, let us see what kind of  stories underlie our journeys… What are we searching for, whose paths do we follow or discover, to which new insights or old masters do other places, paths and landscapes bring us?

May 2012Landscape
How do we “read” landscapes? Do we read a landscape we are rooted in differently than a landscape we are visiting? What constitutes the atmosphere of a landscape, how is its Genius Loci constructed through time and space? In his recent lecture in The Hague (April 24, 2012), Juhani Pallasmaa stated: “Genius loci, the Spirit of Place, is a similarly ephemeral, unfocused and non-material experiential character that is closely related with atmosphere; we can, indeed, speak of the atmosphere of a place, which gives it its unique perceptual character and identity.” Let’s try to evoke in words the ephemeral, the unfocused experience  of landscapes as well as their material, physical presence.

April 2012: Nest
Je cueillis un nid dans Ie squelette du lierre
Un nid doux de mousse champetre et herbe de songe.

YVAN GOLL, Tombeau du pere, in Poetes d’aujourd’hui, ’50.

This is how the fourth chapter of Gaston Bachelard’s “The poetics of space” starts.

I found a nest in the skeleton of the ivy
A soft nest of country moss and dream herb.

This is a chapter about nests. Perfect nests, abandoned nests, lived nests. Many architects have come across this book during their studies, but it is fascinating for any reader.

But, what does “nest” mean to you? Have you ever touched a bird’s nest? Is your home your nest? Is the Beijing National Stadium your idea of a nest?

Share with us what “Nest” brings to your mind in any form you like, be it poem or prose, short or longer..

March 2012: Early spatial memories
While continuing the Writing Place theme, we have added a new theme for March: describe an childhood memory connected to spatial experience. Do you remember your first conscious spatial experience, to which building, detail or landscape was it connected?

February 2012: Writing place
As a first theme, we have picked the very title of our blog: writingplace.

The blog is a place to write, to write about places, from our shared interest in architecture and the city, and our joy in writing. So let’s ask ourselves, what is a writing place? Do we remember places where we wrote, can we imagine the ideal writing place, or do we write about places, regardless the location in which the actual writing takes place?


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