Civic Architects
deep research
Amsterdam, NL

Civic is an architectural firm for public buildings and places. From their studio in Amsterdam, they design a generous architecture that survives generations while viewing architecture not as an autonomous discipline, but a public task. Civic is led by four partners and consists of ten architects. They approach the design from different scales and work for each assignment with specialist builders, thinkers and practical experts.

Coming together in Amsterdam

Civic Architects was founded in 2015 by four architects, who studied together, and were among the founding members of a collaborative of architects and designers, named 'the cloud collective'. After winning the competition for the LocHal public library in Tilburg we decided to also found 'Civic', an architectural design firm with a focus on public architecture, working from Amsterdam.

 

Taking time for deep research

We believe that young firms can stand out from the more experienced crowd by taking the effort to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of a project, situation or client than competitors usually do. We were able to win the LocHal competition because we researched the situation and client expectations thoroughly, before forming a team and starting with the design concept. We interviewed library directors in the Netherlands to really find out what was happening in their world. We researched the existing building and the history and ambitions of the city of Tilburg, before inviting InsideOutside to join our team. By understanding the city well, we were able to ask critical questions about the brief, and propose well-informed alternatives. We researched the history of the public library of Tilburg, their former building and their team. This all helped us in doing the right competition proposal, and a convincing story. Since your internal hourly rate might still be lower than your competitor’s, spending the extra research hours might be relatively affordable, and might just enable you to win a project that seemed out of reach, at first.

 

Allowing flexibility to avoid fatigue

Civic participates in many competitions and tenders. These processes can be very intense. We believe fatigue doesn't make you win competitions. That is why our standard work-week is as relaxed as possible, with many people in the team working four days in the week, as a basis. This routine enables us to 'scale up' in intensity during deadlines, and to work with a clear and rested mind while doing so. The partners work with a similar philosophy, collaborating in pairs on projects, switching these pairs regularly and enabling each other to rest after heavy deadlines, and find new inspiration. In our private life we try to only let the most fun and inspirational parts of our profession in; reading, travelling, sketching, learning.

 

Routine group discussions

We are a collaborative organisation. Everyone in the team has an open attitude towards other perspectives, but while being very critical at the same time. We discuss a lot, and study many alternatives and scenarios to find perfect solutions. Our office layout reflects this open way of working through a set of movable room-dividers where studies and drawings of all current projects are displayed for the whole team. Everyone is invited to reflect or ask questions during the week, and once every week we organise a group talk about one of the themes or projects that interests us.

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Photography Courtesy of Gert Kwekkeboom






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