With the world’s focus getting more and more concentrated on conserving its resources, the need of the hour then it seems is to look for professionals that would carry out this job consummately. One such firm is RO&AD Architects based in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
The principal architects Ro Koster, Ad Kil and Martin van Overveld have been working together structurally since 2002, combining over 30 years of experience.
Here is how they describe themselves.“We are dynamic and unconventional. Breaking fresh ground, broadening horizons, making connections. We are full of ideas, conceptual, skillful, free from styles and full of style. Sustainability, clarity, enthusiasm and freshness becomes us.”
One of their recent projects, the ‘’Moses Bridge’’ located in Halsteren, Municipality of Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, scores the land and penetrates the water using processed timber to retain the walls and resist decay. The concept and execution is so unique that from afar, it is really invisible and this aspect particularly justifies its name.
Strong believers of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy they are convinced that, their inputs can make a better, economically ‘makeable’ and happier world.
The candid interview we present here touches upon issues such as values, watershed moments, approach and influences. Lets see what best one can take away from here.
What are the few values that most define your work?
The most important question is: How can we make bigger, positive footprints with our designs? Traditionally sustainability is mostly about reducing your footprint, but really sustainable designs have big, fat, fertile positive footprints. That is
how it works in nature and how we should design things to become really sustainable.
What have proved to be watershed moments for your practice?
There are actually two moments that proved critical for our office. The first one was when we were just starting and made the decision to design and take on commissions to make the world more beautiful, more fertile and more fun.
The second one was the crisis here in Europe that started in 2008 which initiated a change in the traditional methods of the building industry. That was when we stood up and changed from a demand-driven office to an office where we ourselves took on the initiative in projects.
How do you approach your projects?
For the most part we approach our projects as systems instead of objects. In nature, a species can only survive in the long run if it is a solid part of an eco-system. In architecture this is usually not the case. So we focus more and more on the process instead of the design.
When it comes to design, we design things, more in relation to the eco-system than just being solitary objects. And as we move forward along the way we strive on enlarging the positive footprints.
Were there any particular influences early in your career?
Yes, of course there were! But to name them is difficult. Nature has always been a big influence. During studies I was interested in Buckminster Fuller and Superstudio as far as architecture is concerned; Gerrit van Bakel, Rembrandt and Mondrian were inspirational as artists. But how that influenced our contemporary work I am not sure of…
Have you seen any built structure lately and wished that you had been the architect who designed it?
Yes, the Solar Printer (check youtube for that) is a nice example. Furthermore there are a lot of small offices that have come up with really revolutionary designs which are interesting.
What’s next for you?
Just working on our projects. Presently we are working on a watch-tower, a cemetery that will grow and develop into the landscape in time, a bridge made of biobased materials, a recreational park which delivers more biodiversity than the original forest and many more.