Herman Hertzberger

The internationally acclaimed Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger was the recipient of the 2012 Royal Gold Medal


For the Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger the structure of a building is not an end in itself, it is literally the framework for the life that goes on inside it, a life that is determined by its users. This goes for a school, a home or an office – all building types that he has transformed in a 50-year career in architecture.

Herman Hertzberger started producing his own work even before graduating. In 1960 he opened his own firm of architects, the present-day Architectuurstudio HH. Famous buildings designed by his firm include the headquarters of Centraal Beheer insurance company in Apeldoorn, Vredenburg Music Centre in Utrecht and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague.

Born:  1932 
Nationality: Dutch

The firm is known for its many schools, housing complexes and cultural centres, both in the Netherlands and in other countries.

YKK Dormitory, Kurobe, Japan Photographer: Nobuaki NakagawaMusic Palace Vredenberg, Utrecht Photographer: Herman HertzbergerMontessori School, Delft Photographer: Herman HertzbergerLin Mij Textile Workshop, Amsterdam Photographer: Jan Versnel

Hertzberger has won a great many competitions, has been made an honorary member of several cultural bodies and has been awarded international architecture prizes, both for individual projects and for his oeuvre as a whole. From 1959 to 1963 Herman Hertzberger edited the journal Forum together with others, including Aldo van Eyck and Jaap Bakema. Hertzberger's projects have been published and exhibited worldwide.



The 2012 Royal Gold Medal winner Herman Hertzberger talks to Tony Chapman, Head of Awards at the RIBA, in his studio in Amsterdam about his 50 years in architecture and what it means to win architecture's top prize. 

Besides the numerous articles he has contributed to journals in his field, he has also published the following books:

  • Lessons for Students in Architecture (Dutch ed. 1991; English ed. 1993; also translated into Chinese, German, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Farsi and Portuguese)
  • Space and the Architect: Lessons in Architecture 2 (Dutch 1999; English 2000), a description of the ideas and principles on which his work is based.

In 2008 and 2009 he published the books Space and Learning, and The Schools of Herman Hertzberger in which he records his wide-ranging experience, knowledge and views in a theoretical treatise on the spatial conditions of learning. The following books about his work have also appeared:

  • Accomodating the Unexpected, Projects: 1990 - 1995 (1995)
  • Chassé Theater Breda (1995)
  • Articulations (2002)
  • Shelter for Culture. Herman Hertzberger & Apeldoorn (2004)
  • The Theatres of Herman Hertzberger (2005)
  • Waternet Double Tower (2006)
  • Hertzberger's Amsterdam (2007) and NHL University (2011).

In 2010 the bio-documentary Searching for Space by director Kees Hin was released.

Practice: Architectuurstudio HH