Dezeen Magazine

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is "the biggest architect of our time" says Jan Boelen

Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk is the world's greatest living architect, according to design curator and educator Jan Boelen.

Boelen argued that the South African-born billionaire is thinking on a more ambitious scale than any other living figure and is reshaping the world through his businesses.

"Elon Musk is the biggest architect of our time," Boelen told Dezeen. "He is building the biggest infrastructures around us. And he's not even asking anybody permission for that. He's just doing it."

"He expands the notion of architecture," Boelen added. "He uses his imagination to develop projects nobody else would think of."

Roundup quotes 2018
Jan Boelen (above) believes that Elon Musk (top) is the world's greatest living architect

Musk's projects include electric-car brand Tesla and its battery-building enterprise Gigafactory, private rocket maker SpaceX, high-speed travel concept Hyperloop and tunnelling firm The Boring Company.

"He's building Hyperloops everywhere in the world," said Boelen, who is rector of German design school Karlsruhe University of Art and Design (HfG).

"It's even bigger than China's belt and road initiative."

"He's now looking at colonising Mars," the Belgian added. "And it's all in the hands of one person."

"I think we need more visionary people"

Born in Pretoria in 1971, Musk is one of the world's richest people, worth an estimated $151 billion. He has openly stated his ambition to build settlements on Mars, using his rockets to transport people and supplies to the planet.

His foundation is supporting the $100 million X Prize to develop technologies to solve climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

"I think we need more visionary people," Boelen added. "We need visionary ideas for the world."

"The power of Elon Musk is that he is not dealing with the constraints that are put on us or that we are putting on ourselves. He is a true, imaginative thinker."

"We need these people with their imaginative way of thinking"

Born in 1967, Boelen worked as an industrial designer before moving into education and curation. He was curator of the 2018 Istanbul Design Biennale and was the founder and former artistic director of the Z33 arts centre in Hasselt, Belgium.

He is artistic director of Atelier Luma, part of Luma Foundation, and is the curator of the Lithuanian Pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

"It's very clear that there is a crisis of the economy, a crisis of politics, a crisis of the pandemic and of course an environmental crisis and this has paralysed the world," Boelen said.

"So we need these people with their imaginative way of thinking about what is going on in the world to break us out of these patterns."

The main photo is by Duncan Hull.