Dear Ben van Berkel

Dear Ben,

To have a design idea copied by you, a global starchitect with offices all over the world, is truly flattering. It means only one thing: that the original design idea –by Angelo Roventa– is a damn good one that isn’t receiving the recognition it deserves.

It must be sad to have to steal ideas from lesser-known architects such as Angelo. You know what I did when I first saw his amazing Elastic Living concept in a museum in Vienna in 2009? I wrote a piece about it, in which I mention that I wished I had thought of the idea first, and that I therefore take my hat off to this designer. We hit it off and struck a friendship. Then you know what I did, many years later, when I noticed that Barcelona City Council was launching an international affordable housing competition? I invited him to collaborate! Our scheme turned out to be one of three finalists! (As for why we didn’t win first prize in the end, well, that’s no mystery in Spain, where its not what you know but who you know that really counts.)

So when you were commissioned to design “The Van B” in Munich, instead of copying Angelo, why didn’t you also invite him to collaborate? He’s a lot of fun, you know. Great sense of humour (if you appreciate that sort of thing). Do you not enjoy collaborating with minds that are just as bright as yours? Do you like to take all the credit, even when it’s not your idea at all? Too bad. You know, it’s really a lot more fun to collaborate on projects with friends. You should try it sometime. Or maybe you don’t have any friends?

Well, if you ever change your mind and decide to collaborate with someone rather than copy them, give me a shout. I would be happy to share my two cents’ worth. In the meantime, I think you owe Angelo some overdue recognition and a sincere apology.

Sincerely, Rafa.

Angelo Roventa’s “Elastic Living” (2008). Furniture modules move laterally to free up different spaces when needed.
UNstudio’s “plugins” (2021) are clearly a rip-off of Roventa’s “Elastic Living”.

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