Past Present Future: KAAN Architecten

 John Hill
18. September 2018
Office of KAAN Architecten (Photo: Simone Bossi)
Itinerant Office's "Past, Present, Future: about being an architect yesterday, today and beyond" consists of interviews with eleven architects heading firms based in Italy and the Netherlands. Here we highlight Kees Kaan, co-founder of Rotterdam's KAAN Architecten.
KAAN Architecten was founded in 1987 as Claus en Kaan by Felix Claus and Kees Kaan. Claus left the office in 2013, and now Kaan runs KAAN Architecten with fellow partners Vincent Panhuysen and Dikkie Scipio. The firm, with offices in Rotterdam and São Paulo, has around 75 employees and operates within the fields of architecture, urbanism and research on the built environment. Watch the short videos for insight on the past, present, and future of KAAN Architecten or visit the "Past, Present, Future" website to read a transcript of Itinerant Office's interview with Kaan.

PAST

It was not a building that pushed Kees Kaan toward architecture. It was engineering, the infrastructure created in response to floods in southwestern Holland in the 1950s. With the knowledge that engineers at TU Delft worked on the infrastructure, he enrolled there but changed just two months later to architecture. A classmate, Felix Claus, also started late, and the two would six years later form what would become KAAN Architecten.

PRESENT

In this short filme Kaan describes the project-oriented nature of his full-service form ("there is not an office that has to get projects, but there are projects that have to get an office or a team") as well as his skepticism of today's user-based economy. ("a consipirancy against people who own nothing") balanced by his optimism of a traditional economy that wants buildings as safe places for money and as nice places for people to live.

FUTURE

Looking ahead, Kaan is enamored with digital infrastructure, which recalls his early fascination with Dutch flood infrastructure. Working with his students at TU Delft, he is exploring "urban makeovers" of Amsterdam and other cities as they grapple with rapidly advancing new technologies. How, for instance, can the incorporation of new technologies be planned in cities so they lead to higher densities while maintaining quality of life?

"Past, Present, Future" is a project curated by Gianpiero Venturini, founder of Itinerant Office, with the support of the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rome. World-Architects is proud to be a media partner of the project.

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