Interview with Misak Terzibasiyan, Founder & CEO of UArchitects, NL

Ronan Holohan | Millimetre Design | Muse Awards
Interview with Ronan Holohan, Director of Millimetre Design, IE
August 20, 2019
Jeff Chow | Chow Creative | Muse Awards
Interview with Jeff Chow, Producer, Videographer & Editor of Chow Creative, USA
August 26, 2019

Misak Terzibasiyan

As both the founder and CEO of UArchitects, Misak touches on the cultural identities and brings context to each building he helps to build.

Interview with the 2019 Muse Design Awards Winner - Misak Terzibasiyan

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
Our investigative approach at UArchitects begins with an intensive conversation with our clients. The scope for reflection is not confined to the project itself. We also look at the wider cultural context of the surrounding area and make a social contribution to investigate the role and responsibilities of the architect and town planner. We organize workshops and exhibitions to explore and research the meaning of architecture in a cultural context.

Reflection helps interactions among different cultures, and it also helps us to understand our position regarding general themes which are parts of a society. Understanding the identity of society is fundamental for us when we are designing projects in other cultures and regions.

In 2015, UArchitects (Misak Terzibasiyan) published a book titled “CONTEXT_TEXTURE”, which emphasizes the understanding of context-related architecture and the understanding of texture in the architecture.

The founder and owner of UArchitects, Misak Terzibasiyan, is personally and professionally focusing on an international context as well as on the influence of cultural themes. This is heavily influenced by his ethnical background. Misak Terzibasiyan was born 22-09-1964 in Helsinki (Finland), his mother is Finnish and his father is Armenian.

Misak studied at the University of Technology in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) at the department Architecture, Building Technology and City Planning. He has worked in many international architectural offices before founding his own office in 2003, in the city of Eindhoven which is a cultural and architectural icon. UArchitects is an international office that welcomes different nationalities.

He is also involved in commission work regarding the judgement of architecture plans in several municipalities in the Netherlands. At this moment he is also involved with the academy of fashion and design (ArTEZ) in Arnhem as a part-time tutor for the master architecture programme. He writes on a regular basis for de Architect, discussing his critical vision about architecture and society.

This symbioses between the reality of architecture in his office and the reflection of the theoretic discussion of architecture gives a deeper meaning regarding the actual architecture profession.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
Architecture and city-planning are our main focus. Primarily we investigate new dwelling and education possibilities in countries which urgently need new and improved living conditions. As architects we can make design contributions that will shape a better future for its users.
3Congratulations! As the winner of the 2019 Muse Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
To receive this international Muse award is confirmation of the capabilities of UArchitects. At the firm we strive to achieve high quality architecture by paying particular attention to the context and to the society. Winning this prize also gives UArchitects more attention internationally, making our social media output greater.
4Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
In our opinion this project represents the future of education in the Netherlands. The children learn about the natural environment through their education. We can help the client to demonstrate their school ethos through architecture, which we designed especially for them
5What was the biggest challenge with this project?
I think our biggest challenge was creating the perfect architecture to suit the vision of the school. The phase of execution of the project with the contractor was a challenge as well.
6How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

It has encouraged us to try and create more architecture which could withstand the test of time, without being fancy and attractive in the short term.
7What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
1) Context
2) Sensibility
3) The real thing (no temptations towards virtual reality)
8What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
The Netherlands is known for its design and architecture, which leads to more different and unique designs.
9Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I believe the industry is putting more emphasis on creating flat attractive images instead of thinking about the real story behind the concept of a creative product or architecture. Short-term attention span is not positive for creativity.
10If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Muse Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Try to be original as possible and don’t make the mistake of being a copy-paste thinker/designer.
11What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
Teamwork is the most important aspect to achieve quality. To work alone is very easy but in teamwork, you achieve more and share the success as a unit.
12Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
In my opinion, the experience and meaning of architecture goes beyond the application of the latest technological gimmicks, such as smart cities and 3D printing of houses. Architecture is a slow, comprehensive experience of our world that is independent of technology. Architecture gives more of a vision of what is to come and is a distinct translation that goes beyond an answer to questions and wishes from society. This is of course a challenge for architects who are looking for a deeper meaning and interpretation of architecture. This challenge takes us much further. I am thinking of a provocative remark that a well-known Dutch architect recently made which ignores the deeper understanding and research of architecture. The quote from this architect was: “Architects are suffering from originality syndrome. Architects and designers should get over their aversion to copying others. " The copy-paste strategy is a perfect one-liner to excite, but a certain serious statement is hidden in his quote. In response to his quote, I would like to respond with the message to all architects today: "Don't be phony by copying, but be original and authentic." Quote from Misak Terzibasiyan’s new book, which will published in 2020
13Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My father. He was born in Istanbul and his ethnical background is Armenian. He was a well-known textile designer in Scandinavia in the 60s and 70s. He was a tremendous inspiration to me, and his creativity inspired me to become an architect.
14What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Never give up on your dreams, no matter how tough the learning process is! For young architects who are just starting your careers, work for a couple of years at several offices before you start your own office. During this period of time, you learn how you want to organize your own office. Most importantly, you will learn about co-operation and realizing you can achieve bigger goals when you're not alone.
15Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
The most astonishing aspect of our profession as an architect lies in the fact that, prior to a design, there is an experience of abstraction and that ultimately, in collaboration with various parties, we achieve an outcome in the form of a study or a building for our senses to experience in reality.

A diversity of methods are used in the design process to slowly shape the concrete design. For example, simple hand sketches are used, built models and representations in various advanced computer programs using virtual reality. The techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated and who knows what else will follow in the near future. Ultimately, what matters is the "experience" and / or the "meaning" of the design and architecture.

Winning Entries

IKC de Geluksvogel | 2019

IKC de Geluksvogel | UArchitects | Muse Awards
The digital way of teaching is for the most part paperless (virtual), which is represented in the architecture of the building. (read more)

Misak Terzibasiyan

As both the founder and CEO of UArchitects, Misak touches on the cultural identities and brings context to each building he helps to build.