Interview with Markus Appenzeller
1) Briefly introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your practice. What do you work on? What are the issues you aim to address in your profession?
I am Markus Appenzeller, one of the founders of MLA+. MLA+ is a interdisciplinary practice working on masterplans, landscape designs and architecture (MLA). But we deliver more: We add plus value to projects by combining local knowledge and international expertise. We add plus value by working across the borders of disciplines. We add plus value by working and thinking in all scales – from the strategic vision to the building detail. With this approach I want to deliver better projects for an increasingly complex world. It might not be enough to address the question asked but we have to think further, engage in research, and provide answers to the big global challenges: climate change, widening social and economic gaps and the housing crisis. But we cannot provide them in an abstract manner. We need to create facts on the ground. Best practice examples how to make it better for many. This is what MLA+ stands for and this is what I firmly believe in.
2) What are your thoughts over the issues raised by the Amsterdam Cycling Bridge competition? What aspects are central when we talk about designing such a connection over the Ij?
You name the must important aspect: connection. Amsterdam for a long time has been a city that has mainly developed as a living area to the south of the Ij. The north was industrial and not much else. In recent years that has changes a lot. What has not changed is the limited connectivity. Until now you have to rely on public transport or the car to move between the Canal Belt and the north. A cycling bright can fundamentally change this and create an entirely new relationship between the two sides of the Ij. But there is more to a cycling bridge. It will be a symbol of a new approach to urban mobility, an approach that Amsterdam has been pioneering for decades now. Moving in the city is not about cars but about bikes and people and this is what any design should bear in mind.
3) Are there any reference projects you could suggest to inspire our community for this design challenge? Why did you choose this specific example?
Of course one could quote the many cycling bridges that have been built in the Netherlands or Copenhagen. I personally find many of them good answers to the problem of linking two locations but none of them manages to turn into a place itself. Therefore I think the Rialto bridge in Venice or the Ponte Veccio in Florence – both not cycling bridges – are interesting study objects.
4) In your experience, what does it take to win an architecture competition?
A clear concept presented beautifully and focussing on the essence of the design idea. Please: No clutter and no mass production in the hope that something will stick!