Eternal beauty': that’s what sustainability is all about in our eyes – buildings and areas that don’t overburden the world, that last for at least a century, and that are pleasing because they have their own character, which means they are loved.

Sustainability is obviously about lower energy consumption and the smart use of materials. But it is much more than that. It is also about continuing to use a building or part of the city for as long as possible. Nothing is more sustainable than that.

In our view, this way of thinking, designing and working is much more sustainable than just registering the use of materials in Madaster or making construction elements demountable. That’s why we make plans for buildings and areas that can breathe, that can move with the times by adapting to new needs and circumstances. But at the same time, they have their own character. So that people gradually get to know and appreciate them.

Instead of making fashionable buildings that are only technically and energetically sustainable, we therefore prefer to look for ways to give our buildings an eternal beauty.

Many of the schools we have designed, for example, have already changed their educational concepts by completion. We have learned from this to design more and more generic structures, meaning that a building can be used in various ways without major renovations. But despite this neutral structure, our schools still have an expressive volume and an expressive façade. Even the interior can still be warm or bold. With the architectural façade, we can also reduce the installation burden indoors. In our view, this is also much more sustainable: prevention is better than cure. Installations have to be replaced every so many years, while an overhang that (only) keeps out the midday sun is anchored in 'eternal beauty'.

This applies not only to our buildings, but also to our urban development plans. In a design outline, a framework plan seals what is public and what is private. Within the public structure of streets and squares, space for accommodation, greenery, water and active exercise (walking and cycling) are paramount. Followed by the other modes of transport. The more issues we can 'naturally' solve within this framework, the less underground technical infrastructure is needed. For example, in order to be climate adaptive, we prefer to opt for a canal rather than a 'water square'.

Within this public framework, built developments are relatively independent. Although their relationship with public space is, in any case, organised: where and how frequent are the entrances, and is there a transition zone that encourages people to stay and interact?

Sustainability is essentially about resilience: to what extent can a building or area cope with changing requirements over time? In addition, it’s an appropriate answer to the current question.

>> see also transformation