Female Architecture
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Letter to the reader | Text by Bert Schierbeek |

Letter to the reader

When I started working on this book, I suggested to my friends Izak Salomons and Gerrit Oorthuys that all three of us should tell our personal stories about architecture. It was to become a triptych with our Amsterdam roots and a passion for architecture as common starting points. We differ in age, so our childhood memories do not cover the same period, although World War II was decisive for all of us. We met in the early sixties, when we were studying in Delft. Being the youngest I arrived last, but left Delft first.

Back now in Europe after leaving Delft and the Netherlands so many years ago I feel the urge to write down my experiences. By means of an account in photographs I will try and make clear what in my opinion is the secret of a successful design. I made an earlier attempt in 1975 by writing “Fantasy and Architecture”. The Dutch poet Bert Schierbeek (1918-1996) wrote an introduction to that book. His text will be printed here as a prologue again. Bert had a perfect understanding of what made me seek for the origin of architecture, the drawing of the very first lines in the earth.

Aldo van Eyck's comment on “Fantasy and Architecture” was that I had very much been led by the drawings and thoughts of my small daughter Paulita. "Where do I find you?" he asked me. Here I will go back to my own childhood during and just after the war. By conjuring up the atmosphere of those days I realize now to what extent the difficult circumstances of our parents influenced us, their children: we became adults prematurely.

In this book about my work and about myself I would like to guide the reader past the images that have played a prominent part in my life. In this way I try to explain what drove me and made me go my own way. Each time I knew intuitively what the next step in my career was going to be. In Mexico, Ecuador and Peru I found the historical beginnings of architectural design. This experience became the School of Design I had been looking for.

Tonny Zwollo


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