Since its establishment in 1986, Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists has worked on projects involving architecture and urban design from a standpoint of strong social involvement. Designing sustainable buildings is in the practice’s DNA, so to speak. Sustainability is about buildings that will continue to excite for many years, about use, about identity, and about a richness of materials and spatial experience. It goes much further, in our view, than applying solar panels or green roofs, and it is more than just the sum of parts. The embedding of sustainability at multiple levels of the design concept makes it a manifest ingredient of the whole result. A hallmark of our approach is our sharp focus on the user and on the use of the building. This gives us the basis both for an integrated, sustainable design and for an integral process. We devote exceptional care to the anchorage of our projects with their physical surroundings and their wider context. The process of fabrication also matters to us: we aim to produce buildings with meticulous detailing, which age gracefully and which exude an enduring quality. Our sustainable buildings will adapt to change owing to their flexible planning and integrated building technologies. We aim to create places where people will feel good both now and in the future.
Building use: the sustainable design paradox
Sustainability and user comfort do not automatically go hand in hand. A familiar example is the user’s freedom to open windows, which is an understandable need but diminishes the effectiveness of a high-performance HVAC system. In this situation, the building itself dictates its use. Our creative application of structural engineering knowledge to the spatial design results in smart, sustainable buildings where users feel good. High ceilings, mass for thermal accumulation, compactness, allowing for orientation and reducing the energy load make up the basic techniques. Where necessary, we combine this low-tech approach with innovative HVAC principles and systems. In so doing, we design a uniquely integrated sustainability concept for each project.
Enduring quality: anchorage in context and craft
Buildings that people feel proud of last longer. This is another aspect of sustainability. It is a quality that arises from the specifics of the location, the programme and the function. The choice of materials plays a particularly important part. A love for the craft and an aptitude for technical innovation helps us make beautifully detailed buildings which not only make a strong impression now, but which will continue to elicit excitement and which will age beautifully, so standing up to the test of time. There are pleasant surprises to be discovered from the tiniest detail to the most sweeping gesture. The user must also be enabled to modify the building to his current needs in the longer term. A generic, flexible structure combines with transparent logistics to increase the building’s adaptability. Our buildings are carefully anchored into their context; their power to foster social interaction is important to the surroundings.
Working together towards a sustainable design
A sustainable design is the outcome of an integral process. This entails experts in different fields working intensively together from an early stage of the project. We are keen to take the lead in this process on the basis of our knowledge and skills, for example in applying the Total Engineering approach. We have developed our own tools for sustainable design projects. These resources help guide the parties involved step by step towards the realization of sustainable design ambitions. Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists is moreover specialized in open planning, which means actively involving users and other affected interest groups in the design process. It is a strategy that leads to projects with a high level of social sustainability.