ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] develops solicited and unsolicited design and research in architecture, urbanism, and landscape design. ZUS contributes to the changing urban landscape through its dedication to architecture’s public role. Founded in 2001 by Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman, the studio consists of an international, 25-strong, multidisciplinary team, with offices in Rotterdam and New York. ZUS has received numerous national and international awards for their boundary-crossing work.
ZUS believes architecture’s imaginative power can contribute to a necessary shift of boundaries between private and public, long and short-term, nature and culture, and temporary and permanent. These contradictions enable progressive projects, nurturing long-term responsibility on the one hand and inviting user and public involvement on the other. These projects are never solitary statements; they are always fundamentally anchored in the city, the public domain, and within the long-standing traditions of architecture, urbanism, and landscape design.
ZUS has realised groundbreaking projects over the last years, such as the Luchtsingel, a crowdfunded airwalk in Rotterdam, and Dune, a new urban district in Almere, acclaimed as the architectural highlight of 2017 by critic Bernard Hulsman of the NRC newspaper. Recently the office won a competition in Utrecht with Smakkelaarspark – the hybrid of architecture, urbanism, and public space in the midst of a city centre make it a key project for ZUS. The work emanating from the ZUS studio ranges from small objects, such as the Happy Sheep, and architecture, such as Annabel music venue, to planning and infrastructure. In this capacity, ZUS was appointed to design the largest sea lock in the world in IJmuiden.
A typical result of the studio’s proactive and recognised methods is Test Site Rotterdam, an exemplary project in participatory urban development and urban renewal. To instigate new urban developments, ZUS transformed a vacant office block in Rotterdam’s city centre into an urban laboratory. Known as the Schieblock, it is cut-through by the Luchtsingel, a 390-metre-long elevated walkway connecting disparate parts of Rotterdam’s fragmented city centre. The airwalk provides a backbone for the development of new public spaces. The footbridge was made possible through crowdfunding and investment from the Rotterdam City Initiative.
The work of ZUS / Van Boxel & Koreman has been widely exhibited, including at the Guggenheim in New York, the Venice Biennial, the V&A in London, and the Istanbul Modern, and will have their first retrospective exhibition at Museo d’Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia. ZUS won the 2007 Maaskant Prize for Young Architects and was awarded Architect of the Year in 2012. For the Luchtsingel and Schieblock, they won the Berlin Urban Intervention Award, were a finalist of the European Prize for Public Space, and were nominated for the 2017 Mies van der Rohe Award.