A film about Architect John Habraken by Sonja Lüthi and Marc Schwarz

Image of poster of De Drager

Movie poster of De Drager. The icon is a large letter A on orange background.

About John Habraken and the film

John Habraken

Dutch architect, theorist and professor John Habraken (*1928) is one of the most controversial architects of his generation. Whereas some people revere him as a guru, others denounce him as a technocrat. In order to begin to grasp this person, who according to friends as well as foes has had «one good idea in his life», the film invites the viewer on a discovery-journey through Habraken’s body of thoughts. In conversation with Habraken, his friends and other people who have observed him from a distance the bits and pieces add up to a whole. In the end not only does the viewer encounter the various levels of Habraken and his «one idea», but also a fundamental redefinition of the role of the architect is revealed.

The Story

The «Habraken-story» starts 1961: Dutch architect and theorist publishes a book entitled «The Supports and the People: The End of Mass Housing», in which he fundamentally questions the role of the architect. Instead of regarding the architect as design-authority, he proposes to distinguish between two levels of authority respectively responsibility: the «support» designed by the architect and the «infill» determined by the individual occupant. After the publication of his book Habraken gave up practicing as an architect: «the theory should not be confused with the examples».
More about John Habraken:

The Film

How do you make a film about an architect who did not build buildings? Exceptional for a film about an architect the focus does not lie upon his projects, but upon principles of design resp. how the architect can intervene in the «messy everyday environment» – which «like a human body rather needs to be nurtured than forced».
Watch the complete film online: watch film


World Premiere screening at NAi in Rotterdam, 13 January 2013



Written & directed by

Sonja Lüthi & Marc Schwarz

Produced by

In order of appearance

  • John Habraken
  • Ole Bouman
  • Dietmar Eberle
  • Jonathan Teicher
  • Sjoerd Soeters
  • Hans van Olphen
  • Fokke de Jong
  • Thijs Bax
  • John Carp
  • Frans van der Werf
  • Frank Bijdendijk

Research & Interviews

Sonja Lüthi

Director of photography & Editing

Marc Schwarz


Erich Strebel

Title Design

Josef Schätti & Basil Lehmann

Color Grading

Simon Guy Fässler

Recording & Soundmix

Greg Galli & Erich Strebel

Animation & Motion Graphics

Marc Schwarz & Marcel Schwarz


  • Bruno Brandenberger: Bass
  • Cecilia Garcia: Cello
  • Yumi Araki: Violin
  • Francesco Carpino: Flute, Clarinet, Altosax
  • Erich Strebel: Piano
  • Robin John Simmons: Singing Bowl


  • Linda Cassens Stoian
  • Holländer Translations
  • Sonja Lüthi
  • Jonathan Teicher

Online Media Production

Marcel Schwarz

Special thanks to

  • Federation of Swiss Architects (BSA)
  • Imre Halasz Trust
  • Swiss Society of engineers and architects (SIA)

Thanks to

  • Hetty Berens
  • Sibylle Bucher
  • Linda Cassens Stoian
  • Christoph Elsener
  • Mandy Gnägi
  • Stefan Hackh
  • Guido Hager
  • Daniel Jauslin
  • Stephen Kendall
  • Urs Lüthi
  • Regine Ochsner
  • Josef Schätti
  • Dimphie Slooters
  • Jonathan Teicher
  • Fred Truniger
  • Ivo Vasella
  • Martina Voser

We thank our sponsors

Acknowledge our sponsors

The project has been made possible thanks to a generous contribution from The Netherlands Architecture Fund SfA with additional support from the Federation of Swiss Architects BSA and Pensimo Management AG.

An image showing the logos of our sponsors: Stimuleringsfonds voor Architekctuur (The Netherlands Architecture Fund) / Bund Schweizer Architekten / Pensimo Management AG

copyright notice