Grafik – Issue 182, February 2010
A mighty undertaking for Dirk Laucke and Johanna Siebein of Studio Laucke Siebein – BCAD, a book charting 1979–2009 of Benthem Crouwel Architects (the mighty successful architects, one founding partner of which has a dad whose name won’t be unfamiliar to Grafik readers). ‘During the first meeting with Jan Benthem and Mels Crouwel,’ recalls Laucke, ‘it was clear that there would be no briefing. Except for a list of projects that had to be in the book, there was nothing. One of my first decisions was not to use Frutiger Type, which Benthem Crouwel use. I wanted to avoid a corporate brochure feel.’
The layout of the book was based on the fact that it was necessary to be flexible and have the ability to add in or leave out sections of the content at the very last moment. ‘It’s based on a grid where the text has no relations to the images,’ Laucke continues. ‘By using this trick we where free to change a page in a very short time without taking any design decisions. During the eighteen month we worked on the book, there were many moments when I called and said ‘everything will be different’.
This free-thinking approach led to one of the most interesting aspects of the book. ‘As far as I could see,’ says Laucke, ‘most monographs are full of glossy photography from realized buildings, often in front of a sunrise or sunset. I didn’t want this, so aspired towards a playful, very busy book full of sketches and snapshots.’
Laucke took the clichéd sunset snaps and upended them: ‘I asked the photographer Johannes Schwarz to take pictures of all the damaged mockups and created a chapter called Sunset Ruins.’ This section at the centre of the book, printed full-page on high-gloss paper, is a testament to dreams fallen by the wayside and hints at projects that either became part of something else or died where they stood.
The freedom demonstrated by Studio Laucke Siebein’s ability to include such a section reveals the confidence and disciplined approach of Benthem Crouwel and creates an end result as stunning as the architecture itself.