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 Sustainable Architecture

​The Campus Reporter joins the guest lecture on Sustainable Architecture by Taco Tuinhof.

I enter the room, realising that I probably have far less knowledge on the topic of sustainability than my peers majoring in sustainability or earth science. Nonetheless, Im eager to learn more about the current approaches to sustainability in the Netherlands and feel as though architecture is a big part of that.

The guest speaker is introduced and Im surprised to see one of his opening slides to be an old car filled to rim with old, wooden pieces and other scraps of material. “Let’s start from the beginning shall we?, he says after introducing himself. His name is Taco Tuinhof, a sustainable architect who has worked on numerous projects in Middelburg. He started this process by building houses in less developed countries. Back then, his goal wasnt for the end result to be beautiful. The goal was for the houses to serve their purpose for as long as possible.

The buildings in the pictures look plain, white and not particularly special to the ignorant viewer but the accompanying diagrams make every underlying decision easy to follow. After explaining his experience abroad, the presentation continually alternates between the smaller, more intimate examples of sustainable design and, more generally, the ways in which this is reflected in the surfacing circular economical theories. Learning more about methods used to integrate sustainability into economics was very enlightening especially considering the fact that this is often forgotten in basic economics courses.

Tuinhof provides an outline of his personal projects and explains how they designed and constructed a new, rather impressive building completely out of another building assigned to be broken down. Everything, including the screws were re-used which leads way to his personal description of a sustainable architect: Instead of looking at myself as an architect, I would describe myself as a cook who creates new dishes with whatever is left in the fridge”. 

Perhaps the most interesting moment happened when students asked questions regarding the process of his architectural projects. The honesty in his answers were both refreshing and enlightening. Questions such as the cooperation of the government made it abundantly clear that a further change in mindset is both necessary and lacking in our current system. Students had the opportunity to further discover possible learning opportunities in nearby companies and to understand the current obstacles regarding sustainability in our current society.