Van Gameren will manage the Faculty where he himself graduated with honours in 1988 and became Professor of Dwelling in 2006. He has also been the Departmental Chair of Architecture for 10 years. As Dean, he will try to let ‘content’ drive his management.
Urgent societal issues. This is where he believes the Faculty should focus its attention. “How and where will we build more homes? And what type of homes? How will we make sure that they are sustainable? What does climate adaptation mean? I believe that our Faculty and other entities need to integrate our work much more closely.”
Van Gameren also believes that architecture carries a heavy international responsibility. The people that will flock to cities in the next decade will have to move into a good living environment. “We need to think about this, research it and, as a designing faculty, propose developments and designs.”
Reorganisation of OTB
Van Gameren is becoming Dean at an exciting time – the OTB reorganisation. The plan is to divide this former research institute among other departments in Architecture. “I hope that the reorganisation will stimulate us to seek each other out and enter into new collaborations,” says Van Gameren, who, incidentally, was not involved in the reorganisation. That some people are unhappy with the reorganisation is understandable as “it affects them personally”.
Architecture’s Personnel Committee is happy with the successor to Bert Geerken, whose term comes to an end shortly. Geerken was the temporary Dean since mid-June after the departure of Peter Russell. The Personnel Committee Chair, Herman de Wolff, says that initially the Personnel Committee thought of appointing an external person with a ‘fresh view’. “The advantage of an internal candidate is that he or she knows the internal processes. As the Department Chair, Van Gameren was part of the management team in a time that things were not going well with Architecture in terms of management. It will be a challenge to take distance from this.”
Problems of the past
Van Gameren does not feel the ‘problems of the past’ that strongly. “A dean from the outside does indeed have a neutral view. At the same time, this is a large and complex faculty and it takes much time and effort to understand it. My in-depth knowledge and experience may be an advantage. I hope that my actions will not be guided by pre-existing preconceptions. I will do my best to avoid this.”
As the Chair of his department, Van Gameren says that he has tried to create an open atmosphere. “The atmosphere was very different when I started working there. Architecture is a broad faculty with different perspectives. You need to bring these together. This is the big challenge. We should not live parallel lives, but find our commonalities.”
Van Gameren will also need to find a solution for the workload in the teaching which, according to De Wolff, is high. Van Gameren believes that Architecture has a tradition of intensive teaching as it is a design course. “At the same time, this is what gives our Faculty its good reputation and is what attracts so many international students. I always say, the further away from Delft you come, the better the reputation of our Faculty.”
Van Gameren does not have a ready-made solution for the workload issue. “Don’t underestimate the pressure of research. It’s about keeping both the teaching and the research in balance. This is my number one priority – making it possible for staff to find that good balance between teaching and research and still have time for reflection.”
In his own department, Van Gameren started to structure the master’s programme more efficiently. “This will allow us to deploy teachers better and more easily without compromising on the time for supervising students. We want more periods in which there is no pressure.”
No conflicts of interest
Van Gameren has been a partner at Mecanoo architects in Delft since 2013. The Personnel Committee believes that he should stop this work. “Then he can completely dedicate his efforts to the Faculty,” says De Wolff. Van Gameren does not want ‘to drop it in one go’. “I am discussing it with the Board,” he says. “To my mind, it’s important to maintain a connection to practice, but I will of course make sure that there are no conflicts of interest. My priority now is of course fulfilling my role as Dean.”