The entrepreneurial architect Robert Winkel founded Mei Architects and planners back in 2003. As an energetic foreman he inspires a team of about fifty designers and specialists.
After studying Architecture at the TU Delft (1991), Robert worked as a project architect, founding Archined in 1995. In 1996, he started his own firm (Robert Winkel Architecten), which became Mei architects and planners in 2003. In 2019, Nice Developers joined the firm. The move into development illustrates Robert’s drive for innovation and progress. When Robert sees a need, he can’t help but act on it. “We constantly ask ourselves why something is done a certain way. There is a great eagerness in our company. But we don’t just want to talk about it, we want to do it! We want to show what we believe in. Show don’t tell!” As a developing architect, he was the mastermind behind SAWA: the first wooden (and prize-winning) building in Rotterdam. “The innovation at SAWA was in the clever combination of design solutions and technical elaborations. The result is a building with a supporting structure made of more than 90% wood.”
“We constantly ask ourselves why something happens in a certain way”
Over 25 years, his architectural firm has grown into an internationally operating company, with a strong specialism in redevelopment, urban development strategies, innovative new building concepts and sustainability. “We take our work very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously,” is a well-worn phrase of Robert’s, which also defines the company – and its pleasant corporate culture. He and Mei tackle projects based on the pillars of Context, Community, New Aesthetics, Flexibility and New Values. This results in ‘people buildings’: buildings that primarily serve the needs of the neighbourhood and its inhabitants. “
In line with this, Robert holds various external roles of social importance. He was for many years chairman and member of the Spatial Quality Commission in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is currently supervisor of ‘Rotterdam – The Hague Airport’ and chairman of the ‘Quality Team Feyenoord-City’ (Rotterdam) and ‘Merwede’ (Utrecht). Robert is a guest lecturer at numerous universities and colleges and a much sought-after juror for awards in architecture and urban development.
Robert Winkel lives with his wife Mieke and children in a spacious loft, on the 16th floor of the Schiecentrale: the building that he himself designed the transformation and new construction for and where his firm is also located. When he is not working, Robert likes to read a good book and enjoys eating out with friends and being with his family in nature at their tiny summer house in Oostvoorne
“Robert thinks and acts on the basis of morality and values, and he succeeds in connecting a community in his buildings. People search for meaning. They want a place where they understand living. They want to be able to recognise a ‘personality’ in their home. Robert responds to that need.”
“Robert is a talking and listening architect. It’s not just about design, but also about content and communication.”