Blog: How I discovered the power of togetherness and communities

28 February 2023

By Renze Evenhuis:

Becoming partner-director at Broekbakema? It is a wonderful step that I was able to take in January that I am incredibly proud of. But to be honest, this was not part of my plan when I first walked into Broekbakema 14 years ago. Sure, I was embarking on a wonderful opportunity at a renowned firm – I was looking forward to it. But after a year or two I would start my own architectural firm. Because only in that way could I fulfill my ambitions for a sustainable world, I thought. I was completely wrong about that.

Making an impact

“Daddy, why don’t we have our own car again?”, my 6-year-old son looks at me questioningly. My ambitions for a sustainable world are important to me and we often discuss this at home. And it’s also just possible. Trains and shared cars get me from a to b just fine, vegetarian food is made easier and easier, and clothes from sustainable brands have long since ceased to be stuffy. I also take my sustainable ambitions into my work. Once I wanted to make a difference as an independent architect. Now I see that your impact is always greater if you work with a team. And it’s more fun too!

Trust gives energy

I started at Broekbakema in a crazy time and partly because of that I developed rapidly. It was late 2008, the credit crisis broke out and unfortunately one colleague after another was forced to leave. It was hard work for the rest of the team and that was one of the reasons why Jan van Iersel, the former director of architecture, soon gave me the confidence to help design FTOL, an R&D building that we built at lightning speed. That was such an instructive and good process, I am still reaping the benefits of that trust. So, in turn, I now give confidence to the people I work with. I notice that this gives energy, resilience and job satisfaction. Take the recent example, when a project unfortunately did not go ahead. Then I like to think together with colleagues about what we can do with the design, in a different place or in a different form. Because there is always room for a good idea.

Misunderstanding in R&D

The development of FTOL was also the start of my specialization in lab and cleanroom design for the R&D sector. This is precisely where there is still much to be gained in terms of sustainability. In the world of R&D and production, for example, there is still a misconception that circular construction is an additional cost item, whereas you can actually save a lot and simplify maintenance. It is also possible to create a nice workplace in labs and clean rooms. For example, by adding more daylight and by designing an efficient work process that pays attention to people’s well-being. This benefits all sides, employees, organizations and the environment. You can find examples of this at ASML, Wacker and Byondis. I also like to share those opportunities with future clients.

Building the future

That I can now help steer Broekbakema’s course in the role of partner-director is an honor for me. And together with Erik, Aldo and Marius it is also just great fun. How do I see the future? Well, a lot greener anyway. I can see from everything that the world is ready to embrace sustainability, and with it the well-being of people. And how are we going to do that? As I sit at my kitchen table typing this piece, I look at my children who are busy playing with wooden blocks and think; this is how you build a better future: together and with fun!

Renze Evenhuis
Architect directeur