The profession of an architect is a highly responsible one. The very nature of our profession brought us in a somewhat uncomfortable position. We contribute to an ever extending built environment – homes for people to live, places where they can work, and transit hubs for them to travel. But in doing that, we also contribute to the pollution and exhaustion of our planet. The building industry is responsible for about 35% of the world’s waste. Change is necessary and inevitable, and only through courageous, progressive thinking it is possible to keep building and renovating without depleting our valuable resources.
We see it as our responsibility to look for new solutions for these urgent questions, working together with urbanists, researchers, city planners and governments. Can good public transport make a city safer and more resilient? Can a building benefit the eco-system by making it attractive for flora and fauna? Sustainable building is self-evident for us, and goes way beyond energy efficient buildings.
We look at buildings as a living, changing organism. The buildings we design now will likely have a longer lifespan than the job it was assigned to do. Our buildings are fast and easy to assemble and optimally flexible and adaptable. Using recycled and recyclable materials adds worth to a building even when they were not that sustainable to begin with. Aluminum, for instance, is in its production very energy-intensive, but very suitable for efficient re-use, again and again. Biobased composites can replace less sustainable synthetic products, are lightweight and strong and made complete out of renewable sources. Looking at resources like this is an exciting new development that we employ in all of our projects. While exploring new techniques and concepts in sustainability we also build on our experience. Designing modular, adaptable buildings has always been part of our DNA. Some of our earliest projects were based on lightweight constructions that are as easy to put together as they are to disassemble. We’ve been working on smart and future proof buildings like this for decades, learning as we go.
I’m fascinated by the powerful and positive impact that the decisions I make on a daily basis can have on the world we live in. Choosing my bike over my car, not eating meat, abandon single use plastics and wearing sustainable and ethical clothing. Being committed to making better choices is a guiding principle for our practice as well. From fair chain coffee and organic milk and our own bee colony on our green roof terrace, to discussions about diversity, inclusivity and flexibility - we want to make sure our company is a great and inspiring place to work. We see all of this as a work in progress, knowing any fundamental change starts with bringing awareness and initiating dialogue.
Committed architecture is also about investing in the future of our profession by taking our knowledge outside, giving lectures and interviews, and helping students with their projects. A great number of our former interns have joined our company after their graduation, and we are proud to be the leading firm in the Netherlands with the spots we provide for young architects in the PEP professional experience program. We see our office as a think tank where new ideas are developed but also a place where know-how and experience are passed on. This balanced blend of innovation and tested practice allows us to keep doing what we do best: delivering clever, beautiful projects that benefit society and can outlive their initial purpose.