MICHAEL KOLLER / ARCHITECT / AMSTERDAM


How can politics encourage creativity and innovation?
The most important way by which a government can start stimulating innovation is by an appropriate education. Once an artist has finished his education he needs to continue working in stimulating environments. These environments should include international networks and exchange platforms between the artists themselves and industry.

As money is a key factor for young artists, it is appropriate to provide cheap working spaces as well as ongoing funding and rewards that allow the artist to make a living and to stimulate competition.

The possibility to produce the creation (prototype) is of course the ultimate aim for an artist. Therefore governments need to involve the private sector as an intellectual and financial co-producer and investor of future creatives.

What do you like best about Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a global city, easily on a par with London and Paris in terms of its charisma and appeal, unique and incomparable like Rome or Tokyo, and is a firm fixture on our mental map. Amsterdam is also a city in which square metres are expensive. The high prices have always forced residents of the city to find unconventional and cost-efficient ways to live. No square metre is overlooked in creatively using the space available. Open areas, the pavement in front of the door, backyards, balconies and roof terraces have all become playgrounds for fantasy and creativity. The love for detail that is expressed on the façades of buildings is continued indoors. But it would just be too simple to immerse yourself in and be misled by the charm of the decor. Amsterdam is a dynamic and youthful city that still attracts many creative minds. Former harbour areas along the IJ and vacant areas previously occupied by industry are being discovered by young and creative architects and artists, and turned into new, dynamic and highly sought-after locations in the city.

What should the world know about your work?
The centre of my interest is to bridge between architectural practice and research in the fields of design, architecture and urbanism. Having studied and worked in Austria, Australia, Italy, France and the Netherlands, I consider myself as part of the new generation of Europeans for whom national boundaries have become of secondary importance.

The influences of different cultures brought me back to the very essential question of my personal cultural heritage and the influence of my Austrian education on my architectural practice. At the same time, I experienced that Europe as one big nation is not yet reality and that boundaries are still there. To bring people together and to establish networks between them is still one of my priorities.