Ton Venhoeven designs for non-humans as well as people

At the same time, he stresses the importance of having a community that “really values ​​this project and wants to play with it”. There will be a selection process and potential buyers will have to explain why they want to live in the energy-producing apartment complex, which will include 82 homes for families, couples and individuals in a new car-free neighborhood near the city center. .

“We’re basically inventing this century’s planning culture, and I think we need to find solutions that also work in a climate two degrees Celsius warmer, with more precipitation and more droughts,” says Venhoeven, who taught architecture. History and Theory at Eindhoven University of Technology from 2005 to 2009.

This academic background has helped him and his team take an inquisitive and creative research approach to tackling climate challenges.

For example, in 2018 Venhoeven worked with the Dutch government on the 2050 City of the Future design study, researching how cities should respond to significant challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion natural and pollution.

A render shows the master plan for the Pailao River Blueway project COURTESY OF VENHOEVENCS

In the same year, local investigations into how to design areas with imminent flooding informed the team’s work on the master plan for the Pailao River Blueway project in Shenzhen, China. “It’s an interesting place because it’s comparable to situations we have in the Netherlands,” Venhoeven says of the megacity that connects Hong Kong to mainland China. “Patlands have been turned into polders with dykes, and water has been pumped into the sea. Land subsidence is the cost now that the land level is below sea level,” he adds. he. To reduce flooding caused by more intense rainfall in this subtropical region, Venhoeven’s team stepped in to replace concrete quays along the Pailao River with wide vegetated banks that act like sponges, soaking up excess water. ‘water.

Back in the Dutch capital, AMST near Amstel station also shows the architect’s ingenuity in managing water. Supporting Amsterdam’s efforts to become resilient to downpour events, VenhoevenCS has designed the mixed-use complex, due for completion next year, to be water neutral.

While gardens, courtyards and roofs function as spaces to collect, retain and reuse water, which also reduces heat stress. Additionally, by reducing ambient rooftop temperatures, AMST’s green-blue infrastructure increases the efficiency of the building’s photovoltaic panels and contributes to a thriving local ecosystem.

A rendering shows that the Paris Aquatic Center is being built for the 2024 Olympics. Its wooden roof will support a huge array of solar panels producing enough energy to power 200 homes. COURTESY OF VENHOEVNCS RENDERED BY PROLOOG

“AMST is not only eco-friendly, it’s also net zero energy and provides inclusive housing for low-income people,” Venhoeven points out.

When founding his firm VenhoevenCS in 1995, the Dutch architect was deeply influenced by The limits of growtha book-length report published by the Club of Rome in 1972 that concluded that humanity’s growing consumption patterns would lead to ecological and societal collapse.

His company has been experimenting with nature-inclusive design since the start of the new millennium, with the Sportplaza Mercator in Amsterdam being one of the first flagship projects. Completed in 2006, this sports and wellness center now resembles an overgrown fortress. VenhoevenCS installed small shrubs and carpet plants in felt-covered panels, fed by an automated irrigation system embedded in the plant walls, to create a building that blends into the backdrop of Rembrandtpark, a large scenic public park on the west side of Amsterdam.

rendering of a neighborhood

Recalling the beginnings of his business, Venhoeven relays two lessons learned over the years. First, with regard to plants, he insists on the importance of resilience without technical aids. “We don’t do anything artificial to grow the plants,” says Venhoeven. “We plant everything in solid ground and allow them to grow gradually.” Second, Venhoeven recognized the benefits of working with specialists to fully focus on ecological connections. “They advise on the ideal combination of animals and plants and inform us about nesting and feeding requirements”, he explains the collaboration with DS Landschapsarchitecten in the case of the ZOÖP ZEEBURG project.

Like Venhoeven, the Club of Rome returned to what has happened in recent years. The book Limits and Beyond: 50 years after The Limits to Growth, what have we learned and what lies ahead? was published in May, and for which the Club of Rome called on two of the original authors of the 1972 publication.

While Venhoeven hasn’t had a chance to dig into the paperback, the question of living together on a finite planet is still a core topic for him. From a philosophical point of view, the advocate of progressive change through design considers it imperative to develop a post-anthropocentric culture.

“We have to teach people that they are not the center of the universe,” he says.

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