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Jos de Krieger

What did I need to learn to do this job?

I studied architecture at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. To get into the Faculty of Architecture I had to study maths, physics and chemistry. It is important to have a broad interest in all kinds of topics and a bit of technical understanding.

It took me six and a half years to finish two degrees. I also did other things, like being on the student council, an additional degree in sustainability and some studies in Sweden.

Jos de Krieger, 36, The Netherlands

Architect at Superuse

Waste not, want not

As a child I was always drawing maps of imaginary islands full of railways, cities and forests, and creating worlds out of Lego. I think that’s why I decided to become an architect. But I didn’t want to be just any old architect; I wanted to use my skills to help solve the environmental problems the world is facing.

My colleagues and I couldn’t believe so many things were thrown away, after all the money, knowledge and energy used to create them. We wanted to show what could be done with waste, by using it in our designs. We now design buildings, objects and artworks out of waste materials.

For me, it is really cool when I’m out and about to see my projects and point them out to friends and family. One of my favourite designs is a playground I made out of rotor blades (the things that spin around) from a wind turbine. What’s funny is that we only stumbled on how to do this by chance. We were looking for big volumes of waste to transform into a playground.

We first looked at farm objects and airplanes and then we came across the rotor blades. After some research and small experiments, they turned out to be very good for making playgrounds.

I think my company was the first to recycle wind turbines in this way, but it is really great to see lots of other companies using parts of old wind turbines in creative ways. We have also made a bus shelter, city benches, a billboard for a recycling centre and some smaller pieces of furniture out of reused turbine parts. I’ve also worked on, or seen, designs for bridges, campsites and garden furniture.

I am sure we will soon see all types of waste being used in many interesting ways. I like turning something that was going to be thrown away into something useful and beautiful.

Reusing old wind turbines is better for the planet than sending them to landfill, incinerating them or even recycling them. I also think parents and children will become more aware of climate change if they see such objects used in playgrounds and other parts of their built environment.

In this kind of work, I think it’s important not to be afraid of failing or creating something that no one likes. It’s always a bit stressful to show something you have created, as you never know how people will respond. However, even getting negative reactions can help as it pushes me to work harder and to explain better what we are doing and why.

If you have an open mind and try to see possibilities where others might not, being an architect can be a good job for you. Apart from being creative, you do a lot of talking, writing and some maths.

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