Sneak peek | Detail

Iris van der Heide studied at our faculty from 2012 to 2019. She now works as Junior Architect for TenW Architecten Adviseurs in The Hague. We talked with Iris about her eye for detail, the importance of context and her time at BIG in New York.


While scrolling through the webpages on my laptop I do not quite believe what I’m seeing. Iris’ personal website is stylish and her CV is very impressive for a 25-year-old. During her seven years at TU Delft she went on an exchange to Aarhus and followed a Master studio in Chicago. After internships at TenW Architecten Adviseurs and PKW she worked eight months for Bjarke Ingels Group in New York. Besides these architecture related activities Iris also made time to organize BKBeats 2016 and was a competitive rower at D.S.R.V. Laga for five years. I always thought that I was living a busy life, but I am not so sure of it now. What is the driving force of this woman and how do all these experiences affect her in her short career?


During your Minor at the School of Architecture in Aarhus (Denmark) you made a design called ‘Navitas Folly, light and shadow machine’. It’s an installation for the university building Navitas. The machine plays with light and shadow. The project fascinated me because of its apparent simplicity combined with some constructive and technological delights. Please tell me something more about this project.

‘The faculty in Aarhus is very art orientated. I did a wide range of projects during my time there, from making my own pinhole camera to creating models that floated in the air by helium filled balloons. The machine in the Navitas building was one of the bigger projects I did there. We had to design a folly, an element without a straightforward function. The site we chose was the atrium of the architecture engineering faculty of the university. The building was very new with steel railings and trusses. Together with the sun and the glass these elements created amazing shadow patterns. We decided to add an extra layer by catching shadow and light in an installation. We designed triangular panels consisting of three different materials: fabric, glass and opaque plastic. Each material would add a different effect to the existing shadows and the light. A mechanism would move the panels according to the amount of light that they captured. The result would be a breathing machine that changes the way people look at the building and changes its own appearance as well.’


What’s your most valuable memory of working for BIG in New York?

‘The best thing about BIG are the people and the ambiance. The whole firm screams architecture and everybody is very creative. The long working hours are therefore easy to deal with. Working towards a deadline, means having dinner at the office with your colleagues and these colleagues are super fun. It almost felt like life at BK City. It’s also a close community. During this whole Corona affair they’re offering to help me with my current job. Moreover they gave me a lot of confidence. Project teams consists of ten people or so. This way, the designing process functions like a small firm and you can take as much initiative as you want.’


More in our next magazine about Detail!



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- van der Heide, I. (z.d.-a). Iris van der Heide. Geraadpleegd op 18 april 2020, van

- van der Heide, I. (z.d.-b). Navitas Folly, light and shadow machine. Geraadpleegd op 18 april 2020, van