Five Core Values
Visionary and inspiring
Our ambition is to be a forward-thinking, agenda-setting practice. We have to, because our world is right in the middle of several transitions that will impact the way we live:
- Energy transition
- Mobility transition
- Climate change and its consequences such as droughts and floods
- Technological transition through nanotechnology, robotization, and AI
- Economic transition from linear to circular
- Agricultural transition
- Ecological transition
- The protein transition from animal-based to plant-based foods
Our designs and consultancy create smoother transitions towards an attractive world of tomorrow. That often entails holistic thinking. With these transitions come many complex paradigm shifts in cultural, social, and economic realms. What does that mean for the notions of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘equality’, ‘privacy’, and ‘solidarity’? We have to keep track of these developments because they are relevant to our role in shaping environment and culture.
The questions we constantly ask ourselves are: What can we do to support the transition? How do we incorporate technological developments in our work? And what role does our profession play in a changing society?
Culturally aware, artistically relevant
Transitions cannot be accomplished with technology alone. We believe that they only have a chance of success if they are embedded within culture in the broadest sense of the word: in social order, in meaning and purpose, in science and art. Think of the cultural transitions of the early 20th century: how music, art, dance, literature, poetry, theatre, and architecture showed us what a modern industrialized society could look like. This perspective had a huge and highly positive impact during the reconstruction after the Second World War.
In recent decades, we have learned that our current linear economic system must become a circular one. Still, many of us lack the imagination to envisage the world of tomorrow and the attractive society that goes with it. Only a cultural transition can help people understand this new world and make wider society receptive to the major changes that are needed. In this era of disruption to technical, social, and economic systems, it is only logical that individual citizens, companies, and governments become uncertain, cautious, and introverted. As designers and storytellers, we can make the difference by depicting this world of tomorrow in a positive way.
We need to look beyond our own discipline and keep track of what other disciplines are doing, especially ‘slower’ disciplines that generate ideas with a long shelf life, such as philosophy and art theory. At VenhoevenCS, we connect with other disciplines at three different levels: Firstly, we have a bildung programme consisting of lectures, excursions, and discussion events. And every now and then, we sponsor or contribute to art and theatre productions. Last but not least, we actively involve artists in our own projects. The façade of the Drieburcht in Tilburg, for example, was created in collaboration with artist Jean-Luc Moerman.
Sustainability is in the DNA of VenhoevenCS. Our idea of sustainability is inspired by nature: we look at what has sustained life on earth for nearly four billion years:
- Renewable energy
- Biogeochemical cycling
Our Sustainability@VenhoevenCS translates these three principles of sustainability into our practice.
Ever since we started our company, we have regarded sustainability of both our projects and our business practice as an integral part of our culture. We have several tools to our disposal to make a difference:
- Our projects
- R&D (knowledge development and valorization)
- Interaction with our partners in the built environment (chain responsibility)
- Engagement and communication
- Our operations
Our designs for the built environment have direct impact on the living environment. We need to keep that in mind. In our design, research, and consultancy projects, we always look for the best and most sustainable solutions for any given assignment. We strongly believe in the power of collaboration, we build shared knowledge and awareness of sustainability issues and solutions with our clients and suppliers, and we team up with them on interdisciplinary research projects.
To constantly improve our knowledge and implementation capability in-house, we have R&D groups that advise the management team and project leaders. More broadly, we also give lectures all over the world about sustainable urban planning, energy producing buildings, nature-inclusive cities, and future-proof regions. Because sustainability is completely ingrained in our vision of urban planning and architecture. Every one of our team members has profound sustainability awareness.
We set ambitious sustainability goals with smart criteria for our operation. This means that we calculate our emissions from transport, paper use, electricity use, and so forth, every six months in order to monitor our CO2 reduction goals. We are the only architectural bureau in the Netherlands to have highest certification for the CO2 Performance Ladder and ISO 14001 certification.
VenhoevenCS is socially engaged at various levels. It is often said that there is an inherent conflict between protecting the environment and economic development. This would imply that we deny developing nations of the standard of living that we in the West have enjoyed for decades. This is not a sustainable approach. In finding solutions for the future, we have to include the development of people with lesser standards of living while also taking care of our planet.
Our concept of a Healthy City is defined as a place where adults, children, animals, and plants feel happy, healthy and safe. Only that kind of healthy city allows communities to evolve, with active citizens who look after each other and keep their neighbourhood vibrant. We promote walking and cycling, creating more space for kids and elderly in the city. We believe that public space should be accessible for everybody, people of all ages, including those with physical or mental challenges. The last level of our social engagement is our interpretation of biodiversity. We believe that plants and animals have the same rights as humans, which is why we promote nature-inclusive cities.
We also express our social engagement through sponsoring. In 2017, we sponsored Estrela de Favela, a young Dutch/Brazilian organization that gives underprivileged children living in the favelas the chance of a better future by providing education and sports. In 2016, we sponsored The Money School, an organization that helps develop financial skills in young people. And last but definitely not least, we take care of each other here in the office. Everybody goes through rough patches in life – emotional, physical, or financial. We hope that we have created an environment at VenhoevenCS where you can always turn to colleagues (including management) for understanding and support.
VenhoevenCS is a place for optimists. The world we live in faces many fundamental problems and feeling pessimistic about the future is understandable. The good news is that, as a design bureau, we are part of the solution. Looking forward, imagining a new world, acting on our beliefs, and inspiring others to act can be hard, but it’s always very fulfilling. This means that everybody at VenhoevenCS is intrinsically motivated and passionate about what they do.
Positivity also means having fun! Every month, we organize all kinds of office events to strengthen the cohesion and dynamics of the team. Some are initiated by management, but many are organized bottom-up: plenary office meetings, sports, lectures, formal and informal drinks, excursions, preparing and sharing a meal, and an annual weekend together. Our monograph, published in 2009, is a testament to this spirit: The Wonderful World of VenhoevenCS.