“It is very important that we involve the architect in an early stage. It’s about more than aesthetics, which is important, but also context and sustainability,” said Hugo de Jonge, Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning. During a working visit to Little C and Fenix I, organized by the BNA, he spoke with Robert Winkel, among others, about the role of the architect in the major, current social issues.
During the visit, the minister was given a tour of Little C and Fenix I in Rotterdam. Both projects show that quality and densification can go hand in hand, and that the early involvement of architects and designers has a big impact. The way in which Fenix I came about – a close collaboration between the developer, architect and municipality in which years of hard work were put into improving liveability and quality – is what De Jonge calls particularly inspiring.
“The spectacular Fenix I shows a fine combination of reuse, daring, good architecture and ditto collaboration, with the architect at the center.”Branchevereniging Nederlandse Architectenbureaus, 2022
BNA explicitly gave minister De Jonge the message that the use of design power should also be actively stimulated in his policy. That more inner-city densification is possible and that new solutions can be created by imagining, connecting and innovating. In addition, subjects such as sustainable and circular construction, also in combination with standardization and industrialization, were discussed. The minister indicated that she would like to discuss this further during a subsequent working visit.
On to a new standard
If there is one example of chain integration in construction, it is SAWA in Rotterdam. From the beginning of the development process, Mei, as the architect, worked intensively with clients Nice Developers and ERA Contour, to come up with a groundbreaking project together. This wooden circular residential building of 50 meters high, is also called the ‘Healthiest Building of the Netherlands’. With SAWA we show that it is possible to build serially on a large scale, with an eye for optimal quality, sustainability, circularity and (nature) inclusiveness. “Such a tall building made of wood, I find it fascinating,” De Jonge said. The revolutionary building is an important step in the sustainability goals and heralds a new era of building. How nice would it be if this is included as a new standard in national policy? We look forward to De Jonge’s next working visits, the invitation to SAWA’s construction site stands.
Photo above article © Hans Tak