Discover Benelux | Issue 11 | November 2014

Page 51

2_2_DiscoverBenelux_11_November_2014_Q9_Scan Magazine 1 06/11/2014 23:07 Page 51

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

MAIN PHOTO AND LEFT: The bridge control centre in Alphen aan den Rijn is highly energy efficient. Photo: Jeroen Musch. RIGHT: The Lofthome concept bridges the gap between standard catalogue homes and houses designed by architects. Photo: Hennie Raaymakers. BELOW: The student campus in Gabon is a collaboration between BKVV and a local architect. Visualisations: BKVV and Maissa.

also been used by other organisations including the Dutch government which commissioned a Lofthome for a visitors’ centre in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve.

DASUDA The powerful designs by BKVV reach far beyond the Dutch borders. Through its membership of DASUDA, the company is now also working in several African countries. The network, or Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa in full, is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and serves as a solutions platform to help cities in Africa develop. It combines Dutch and local knowledge to create more sustainable architecture through a multidisciplinary approach. The first project BKVV did in Africa was creating a student campus in Gabon. Working together with a local architect, they made sure the campus was self-sufficient to prevent the loss of electricity in case of a power blackout in the central energy supply. “We had to step away from a European way of working. The campus had to be as energy efficient as possible so we were forced to build in a much smarter way,” says Van Kats. With the use of

physics he looked at how to minimize energy use and energy loss while also designing a pleasant, comfortable structure. “We really enjoyed working on the Gabon project, especially the collaboration with the local client,” says Van Kats. “It taught us to be flexible; working in African countries can be very complex, from project financing to government regulations.” After this project, BKVV was eager to do more work in Africa and became part of DASUDA. “While we did the Gabon project, we got many questions from locals that didn’t relate to our field directly; ‘can you also look at our traffic issue?’, or ‘can you fix our housing problem?’. We heard our Dutch colleagues got the same questions so we wanted to address these big-

ger urban problems,” explains Van Kats. Through DASUDA he realised that a lot of knowledge to resolve these issues was already present locally but a platform was needed to bring this together and develop it further. Van Kats: “Take the city of Lagos, Nigeria; it grows by 40 people per hour, so it is important to start addressing these issues immediately.” Van Kats now does almost a third of his work across Africa including projects in Cape Town, South Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, in Lagos, Nigeria and Kumasi, Ghana.

Issue 11 |  November 2014 |  51