Jo Coenen


Jo Coenen (1949) is best known as architect of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam and the Ceramics Terrain in Maastricht. Central to his designs is an eye for urban planning, for establishing a dialogue between architecture and its surroundings and for a what is known as a ‘friendly monumentalism’. His approach centres on the interaction between building and city. 

Jo Coenen works for Luigi Snozzi in Switzerland and, for a short time, for Aldo van Eyck & Theo Bosch. In 1979 he begins his own firm of architects in Eindhoven. In 1990 the firm moves to Maastricht. In this period, he realises a number of smaller projects in South Holland. Coenen is renowned for his urban plans for the Vaillantlaan, the KNSM Island, the Céramique Terrein in Maastricht, and his design for the Netherlands Architecture Institute. 

Coenen’s work is typified by an interest in urban planning and what is referred to as ‘friendly monumentality’: buildings with a plinth, colonnades and open and closed spaces. The interplay between building and city is key to his designs. One of the ways in which Coenen attempts to blend design and context is by introducing recurring elements. He argues for greater historical awareness within the Dutch architectural context, and an approach that places greater emphasis on depth and has a greater sense of continuity.

Jo Coenen is the recipient of numerous architecture prizes, including the BNA-kubus (1995). His is Government Architect from November 2000 until October 2004. The firm Jo Coenen & Co. Architekten has offices in Maastricht, Amsterdam, Luxemburg and Berlin.


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