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Disquieting presences: the ambiguity and indeterminacy of Maurice Nio’s architecture

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalCity, Territory and Architecture
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2016



In recent years, Dutch architect Maurice Nio has built an array of projects in the Netherlands, which have generally been considered within the spectrum of the Superdutch phenomenon, and more broadly, within Iconic Architecture. Seemingly, to his Dutch colleagues, Nio's work is on the track of liberating architecture from the burden of cultural responsibilities (Ibelings Supermodernism: Architecture in the age of globalization: Nai Uitgevers Pub, 1998), yet it evinces significant differences from other work in that vein.


Nio’s projects are compared with Jencks' phenomenology of iconic architecture (Jencks The iconic building: Rizzoli New York, 2005), in order to demonstrate the importance and peculiarity of Nio’s work within the context of Iconic Architecture and the Superdutch period, and the extent to which his work can be considered different.


This article argues that Nio’s architecture is not based on the production of outstanding shapes (Lootsma SuperDutch Afterthoughts Post. Rotterdam. Rotterdam: 010 Publisher, 2001), or the clever interpretation of a given program (Betsky Reading MVRDV: NAi 2003), but on the creation of disquieting presences in the built environment. Most of his work consists of pieces of architecture each of which has its own name, character and identity and seems to rely on disrupting the expected and disturbing the quiet.


This paper examines Nio’s work, with particular attention to three case studies, in order to generate a series of qualitative characteristics that define his idiosyncratic architecture.


© The Author(s) 2016. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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