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YOU CAN’T DESIGN THE ORDINARY”, written by N. John Habraken.

Originally published in: Architectural Design, 1971.


Printed copies of this work have the financial support of: the CAAA – Centre for Art and Architecture Affairs, the Project Lab2PT – Landscapes, Heritage and Territory Laboratory – AUR/04509 and FCT through national funds and when applicable of the FEDER co-financing, in the aim of the new partnership agreement PT2020 and COMPETE2020 – POCI 01 0145 FEDER 007528.


ISSN 2183-8941 (On-line Edition) / ISSN 2183-8933 (Print Edition)

© T+U Editorial Partners. All rights reserved. 2016

N. John Habraken – Biography

N. John Habraken, a Dutch citizen, was born in Indonesia in 1928.  

Received his architectural training at Delft Technical University, the Netherlands. 1948-1955

Director of SAR (Foundation for Architects Research) in the Netherlands, 1965 to 1975, research into and development of methods for the design and construction of adaptable housing.

Appointed professor at Eindhoven Technical University, 1967, to set up its new Department of Architecture and serve as its first chairperson.

Appointed Head of the Department of Architecture at MIT, Cambridge, MA. 1975-1981.

Taught at MIT till his retirement in 1989. Remains occupied with Methods and theory of architectural and urban design. Lectured on these topics worldwide and is the author of a number of books, research reports, and many articles.

Recipient of the 1988 Creative Achievement Award of the Association of Collegiate Schools in the US; the David Roëll prize 1979 of the Dutch Prince Bernhard Fund, The King Fahd award for desing and research in Islamic Architecture, 1985-86, and the Oevre Award for 1996 of the National Foundation for Art, design, and Architecture (BKVB oevre prijs) in the Netherlands. Honorary member of the Architectural Institute of Japan. Knight of the Royal Order of the Dutch Lion 2003. Recipient of the 2003 “Kubus for advancing the standing of Architecture”, by the BNA, Dutch Association of Architects.

His book, titled: “The Structure of the Ordinary”, published in 1998 by MIT Press, is an investigation of laws governing built environment as revealed by patterns of transformation.

Doctor Honoris Causa from the Technical University Eindhoven 2005.

His most recent book: “Palladio’s Children” is an attempt to explain why architects do not know how to deal with everyday environment.


+info: www.habraken.com


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