Architecture Workroom

IABR-Atelier Rotterdam— Call to Architects

In the coming three years, IABR–Atelier Rotterdam will examine and test how the energy transition can be a driver for a physically and socially resilient Rotterdam. 

One of the research questions involved is which new building typologies – from new construction to renovation, from residential to industrial – contribute to the energy transition and at the same time improve both the quality of the use of buildings and their environments.

This call focuses on architects with knowledge about the design assignment of sustainable buildings and experience with the search for new architectural typologies and their use in relation to their immediate environment. On architects who want to contribute to the development of concrete spatial solutions as building blocks for the energy transition.

Interested? For more information about the call, submission and the selection procedure, follow this link.

Proposals can be submitted until 19 December 2017, 2 p.m.

The challenges and opportunities of the energy transition are largely situated in the built environment. As a result, the coming years will see the crucial transformation of the existing building stock, both in scale and impact.

Every change in the supply of energy comes with major spatial transformations in residential and industrial building typologies. The introduction of central heating, for example, changed both the dwelling and its use. Many current spatial proposals for the energy transition at the building level work with accumulations of minor adaptations. In many cases these are mainly technological adjustments: improved insulation, different installations. At the level of the use, organization and planning of residential and industrial buildings, design as such has hardly made a contribution so far. That means that the architectural discipline is letting an opportunity and responsibility pass. In addition to technological challenges, energy neutral or even energy producing buildings represent substantial spatial design tasks. Which new typologies – from new construction to renovation, from high-rises to walk-up flats – include energy transition interventions that simultaneously improve the quality of the use of buildings and their environments? 

In addition to the challenges at the level of the individual building, another major design issue is how these new typologies and their energy infrastructure relate to public space. The infrastructure of renewable energy is largely situated aboveground, close to our homes. Production will no longer only take place at a great distance. At the level of the neighborhood, citizens will have to organize collectives to produce and share energy, which will put pressure on the urban public space. This, too, requires a search for possible links between new typologies and the development of a qualitative public and shared space, and for the spatial opportunities that the new collective energy infrastructure entails. At the scale of the building and the neighborhood, collective energy facilities of necessity will develop their own language, one that goes beyond utilitarian form and function. The relationship between user and producer is in transition and will also have to be spatially organized. This means the energy transition will thoroughly transform our living environment, from our homes to the public space. However, this will also provide us with the opportunity to build the city that we want.

No less than 70 percent of the dwellings in Rotterdam currently have an energy certification of ‘C’, or even lower. In the Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague, some 300,000 homes have to be renovated by 2035 to realize the necessary reduction in energy demand. This will require (demolition and) new construction on the one hand and overhauling the existing and often outdated housing stock on the other. In addition, some 150,000 dwellings have to be connected to heat networks in the same period. In terms of scale, the challenge is huge and the necessary interventions are major. That is why Rotterdam, the perfect test site, will be used to try out new typologies.

IABR-Atelier Rotterdam calls on architects who focus on the design of sustainable buildings and on the wider search for new architectural typologies and their use in relation to their immediate environment to respond to this research by design challenge. In this typological design quest, the spatial transformation challenge of the built environment is examined and visualized on the basis of still to be determined types of building transformations (new construction, high-rise, renovation of collective residential blocks, etcetera), in which architectural language, layout, organization, and use play an important part. The focus is also on the collective energy infrastructure and facilities of these buildings, their relation to public space, and their shared use. Rotterdam will be the first test site, but to allow the upscaling of the developed solutions, this will be done using universal types.

The study will create an understanding of new typologies that can accelerate the energy transition and generate spatial and user-oriented quality, as a reproducible exploration for Rotterdam and other cities. An appealing visualization of the results that is fitting for an exhibition will be developed as part of the presentation of the IABR Atelier Rotterdam at the IABR–2018.The assignment starts after the selection procedure on 16 January 2018, will continue during the IABR–2018, and ends on 1 August 2018.

More info on the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam here.

The IABR–Atelier Rotterdam: Energy Transition is a collaboration between the IABR, the City of Rotterdam (Urban Planning Department and Resilient Rotterdam) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, covering the 2017 to 2020 period. The purpose of the Atelier is to instigate solutions that municipalities and other stakeholders can subsequently implement in practice. 

Lead Designer is Joachim Declerck (Architecture Workroom Brussel), member of the Curator Team of IABR–2018+2020.


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With structural support from the Flemish government and regular support from the Brussels capital region and other regional and local governments.