My name is Frans Blok; I’m the founder / owner / sole employee of 3Develop and also the author of this blog. My biography is intertwined with the development of presentation techniques over the last sixty years. Pencil, rotring pen, computer mouse, I’ve had them all in my hands in those six decades.
I’ve been drawing from the moment I could hold a pencil. Buildings, cities, maps, spaceships. I used the tools available to a child in the 1960s and 1970s: crayons, pencils, pens, markers. And because the internet was nowhere to be seen, I mainly took my inspiration from atlasses, comic books and popular science magazines.
When I first came to the department of architecture at Delft University of Technology in 1980, it felt like coming home. So that’s how you call what I’d been doing all this time: architecture. I seemed to be born for it. Meanwhile the tools became slightly more advanced: rotring pens, adhesive foil, tracing paper, a drawing board.
At that time, making architectural and presentation drawings was still manual work. During my internship at Jan Hoogstad‘s office, I spent two weeks making just one perspective drawing of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in The Hague.
But during the 1980s, computers appeared on the stage. On a primitive Atari I created my first 3d models, of which I made prints to draw over.
By that time it had become clear that I might not be a very good architect after all. Defending my ideas in long and boring meetings was not my cup of tea.
My talent was in visualizing other people’s designs. I could work miracles with a computer and the software was getting smarter every year. Autocad learned to remove hidden lines, 3DS Max simulated material, atmosphere and lighting and Photoshop opened a complete magic tool box.
In the nineties I worked for almost ten years at Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture, on projects like the Souterrain tram tunnel in The Hague and on the vertical city of De Rotterdam in, well…, Rotterdam, but also on international projects such as the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and the Jussieu libraries in Paris.
At OMA I was an eye witness of architectural history. Many of my colleagues from that time are now a starchitect, dean at Harvard or at least Chief Government Architect. My work was on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Center Pompidou in Paris, albeit of course not under my own name.
A new millennium, a new job. At the end of 2000 I made the switch to VHP, another Rotterdam office. A broadening of the playing field: in addition to architecture, VHP also worked in urban planning and landscape projects. As well as all conceivable combinations of those three fields.
We didn’t design buildings of a kilometer high. And less often than OMA we made it to the international architecture magazines. But we did make beautiful things, including winning competition designs for Meerrijk (Eindhoven) and the Scheldekwartier (Vlissingen).
Around the turn of the century, also the spaceships from my childhood returned. And they took me to Mars. As an unpaid employee of the Mars Society, I built websites, walked in spacesuit through the Utah desert, and (co-)organized events such as National Mars Day. I was co-architect of an international Mars research station, produced a collection of Marschandizing, and threw myself into the greening of the Red Planet.
In 2007, VHP became part of Royal Haskoning and I was instantly working for a multinational consultancy company. A fascinating experience: rather than 40 colleagues, I suddenly had 8000.
The diversity of disciplines increased even further: not only architecture, urban planning and landscape, but also infrastructure, industry and water projects. I got the opportunity to make work with a length of hundreds of metres: on Koninginneplein in Venlo and in Van Kregtentunnel in Wierden. But still not under my own name.
When Haskoning wanted to focus more on its core business (making beautiful pictures wasn’t a part of that), I decided to declare independence. December 3, 2013 was the day I started my own company: 3Develop.
I still make artist impressions, solicited and unsolicited. I work for project developers, designers, municipalities, water boards, church councils, advertising agencies. But I am also my own client. With the same skills and tools, I produce maps, virtual reliefs, spherical panoramas, graphic compositions, space art, photos and other wall art, all available in my web shop.
In other words: I can be hired and my work can be bought. Do not hesitate to contact me through one of the channels below.
Van Oldenbarneveltplaats 308,
3012 AL Rotterdam,