John van de Water

Author Q&A Contributor / Designer / China; The Netherlands / NEXT Architects

John van de Water graduated from Delft University of Technology with a Master of Architecture degree in 1999. Immediately after graduation, along with three friends from the university, he founded NEXT Architects in Amsterdam. During its first years, NEXT focused primarily on research projects. The results brought international acknowledgment to the firm, and NEXT’s body of thinking was widely published, solidifying the firm’s position among architectural thinkers. NEXT Architects has won numerous competitions and awards since its establishment, including “Dutch Architect of the Year.”

Since the founding of NEXT Architects, van de Water has taught at universities around the globe. On a regular basis he is invited to give lectures and participate in juries and advisory boards.

Van de Water moved to China in 2004, prompted by the traveling exhibition “The Image of Metropolis,” which came out of his traveling the world for four months, visiting 26 cities with his partners in the year 2000. Until this time NEXT Architects had not realized a built body of work. During five years of “cross-cultural design” the NEXT office in China realized over 1 million square meters of built work on Chinese soil. This extraordinary speed of development made NEXT Architects one of the largest Dutch offices in China.

In 2012, after working and living in China for eight years, van de Water published the book You Can’t Change China, China Changes You (010 Publishers). This book describes his first five years in China. The main theme of this semi-biography is to test the boundaries of a Western frame of reference in a Chinese context.

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