Climate Resilience Buildings: Design and engineering for a greener future

In this issue of Building & Construction Review, we are delighted to select Bartels & Vedder with our New Year Spotlight Award 2024.

The influential architect Frank Gehry, famous for iconic buildings like Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, once famously said, “Architecture should be a source of inspiration for people and the best compliment you can give an architect is that his building works.”

Bartels & Vedder is a Dutch engineering consultancy company that indeed has many buildings and floating structures that ‘work,’ across the civil, structural, marine, commercial and residential engineering sectors. With eye-catching, stunning floating structures, the Dutch powerhouse creates impactful, meaningful buildings, offices, hotels and even bridges.

Established in 2011, from the original Aqua Life Nederland BV Company, Bartels & Vedder has sent ripples through the design and engineering community, with stunning designs like the largest floating office in the world: The Floating Office Rotterdam (FOR.) The co-founders of Bartels & Vedder: Chiel Bartels and Jelle Vedder have systematically nurtured a company, based on a team of draughtsmen and engineers with two things in common: passion and purpose. Jelle Vedder co-founder elaborates further, “Our unique selling point is floating structures; this is indeed our signature style but we also work with many land-based projects. We are open to all manner of challenges across the world, with many recent enquiries from Saudi Arabia, through to Japan and Europe.”

“We prefer to term our style as ‘climate resilience’ design engineering and specialise in flood-proof buildings, even looking at stilt building. With high-water levels becoming an increasingly concern in many countries, across flood plains, we provide expert knowledge and practical application.”

“Over the last twelve months, we have swerved the global recession and found ourselves working on numerous projects, both here at home in The Netherlands and further afield.”

“What stands us apart from other design and engineering companies is our primary focus on passion and purpose. Our team are handpicked for professionalism, expertise but most importantly, joie de vivre and unbridled passion for their vocation.”

Bartels & Vedder have ‘fire in the belly’ for every project executed and like true architectural artists, enjoy new challenges and creativity throughout.

“Profit over purpose might bring short-term gain but over time sloppy short-cuts won’t do you any favours. We are more interested in having a passionate purpose in all our endeavours.”

“If you imagine passion as the fuel in a car and purpose as the satnav, the passion will power the car like electricity and the purpose will set a course. We are focused on organic growth, accepting challenging projects that come our way but not for purely monetary rewards, but for the thrill of the ride. We simply love what we do and ‘conquering new markets or continents’ is not in our DNA, we take great pride in creating jaw-dropping, beautiful, functional buildings,” added Jelle.

The Bunschoten-Spakenburg, located company is also passionate about the next generation and supports younger trainees and university students. Throughout the year, many final-year architectural and engineering university students complete internships, projects and assessments through the company.

“It’s a great opportunity for academic-based students to see how a real-world design and engineering company operates – they are always particularly impressed by the floating structure side of the business. We also support school-age pupils with work experience, if they are considering training to become an architect or engineer. Having even week-long work experience gives them realistic aspirations of what to expect in the workplace, once they have graduated,” outlined Jelle.

The company attracts Dutch university students from over the Netherlands and with its close location to Utrecht, in the ‘Randstad,’ the team are in close proximity to Schiphol International Airport and various Ferry crossing terminals. Bartels & Vedder have worked all over the world, with engineering projects in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, USA, Malaysia and Europe.

With the spotlight firmly on COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the design and engineering sector has made great strides towards greater sustainability, from floating solar parks, ground source heat pumps, to sustainably-sourced timber.

Bartels & Vedder are at the forefront of this through their newly termed, ‘climate resilience’ building style. Many contractors, government officials and private owners are requesting buildings with renewable energy packages built-in. The floating structures and buildings for Schoonschip in the IJ-canal in Amsterdam are now regarded as one of the most sustainable housing projects in Europe. The Johan van Hasseltkanaal-located project includes 30 houses, 46 households and over 100 residents. Furthermore, durable and floodproof housing projects such as the project in Rhenen, where houses are built in a flood zone and designed in such a way that damages during a flood are managed.

Greener architecture is set to dominate future buildings styles, with a greater emphasis on securing optimal renewable energy sources but also building to withstand rising hot temperatures and water levels. Floating design structures are generally still quite unusual across the construction sector but are gaining traction across the globe.

Under the watchful eye of Chiel Bartels and Jelle Vedder: Bartels & Vedder are regarded as experts in the mechanical art of floating structures. These include intricate details such as: stability, calculating drift forces from waves, and current and wind factors, to engineering access bridges and mooring facilities.

“We always consider optimised, renewable energy sources, from solar and heat pumps and factor this into all our designs. Next to that we even engineer and check floating solar parks which provides solar energy to the surrounding area.”

“Looking ahead to 2024, we are honing our passionate, purposeful approach to global projects. We can offer a bespoke end-to-end service that is world-leading across the current market, from structural calculations, 3DBIM drawings, structural advice, monitoring and guidance, or just general structural advice,” concludes Jelle.

In the indelible words of Frank Gehry, “Great architecture has the power to transform lives, and elevate the human spirit…creativity in architecture is all about breaking the rules and challenging conventions.”

Bartels & Vedder has proved they are worthy ambassadors of Gehry’s vision, through innovative, awe-inspiring, feats of imaginative design engineering.

For more information and to see the portfolio of work, please see the website below:
T +31 6 422 398 53