Back Questions to Matthias Siegert

Or: Why Matthias Siegert is inspired by communication

1. Good architecture should ...
... last and therefore be sustainable.

2. Architects should
... be flexible

3. Are there any buildings you feel particularly passionate about?
One of the most exciting spaces I have ever experienced was the Hagia Sophia. When you think about what needed to be done at that time to achieve this dimension. A great example of sustainability. It used to be a church, is now a mosque and who knows what it will be in the future. Sustainability refers not only to the materiality of a building, but also to its enduring use or functioning conversion concepts.

4. What inspires you?
My co-workers, nature, my children, everyday life, other architects and conversations. It is a tremendous inspiration to talk to people and listen well.

5. What has been your biggest success to date?

For the first family home that I designed, I received the most honest compliment there is. Their little daughter came up to me and said: "Matthias, thank you, I now have sunlight in my room in the morning." If I added up all the compliments from the marketing area, then people would be queuing up here, because I would be the talent of the century. But it's good that this is not the case. The honest compliments are much more valuable.
6. Which project is next on your agenda? What are you working on?
Among other things, we are currently working on a primary school in wooden module construction and on the renovation of Friedrich Hölderlin’s birthplace, where we are responsible for both the construction and the exhibition concept.

7. What is the biggest advantage for you in modular building processes?

The biggest advantage is that I can plan and define a lot in advance.

8. Are there any disadvantages?

There is a shift in the fee structure for architects and engineers (HOAI) because you have to think and plan ahead a lot. However, it’s not the magic bullet that makes architecture fast, cheap and good. You can't have all three dimensions, you can always only choose two of them. If something is going to be cheap and good, it can’t go quickly, and if something is going to be fast and good, it can’t be cheap. Even modular construction will not change that.

9. Do you have any advice for young architects?
Don’t lose heart. As architects, we have an incredible responsibility that can be too overwhelming for many, who then move into other areas. I wonder who really will build and will want to build houses in the future. It sometimes even seems uncool, as an architect, to still be building houses. Everything else is much faster and easier. We have to deal with laws, standards, clients and with more and more organisational tasks. Therefore, I wish young architects the courage to persevere and continue.

10. If you had not become an architect, what would you be today?

Unemployed (laughs).

Matthias Siegert
Freier Architekt BDA
VON M, Stuttgart