• Dick van Gameren Delft University of Technology
  • Dirk van den Heuvel TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Frederique van Andel TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Piet Vollaard Archined




Forty years after the first oil crisis and the Club of Rome’s controversial report Limits to Growth, environmental awareness and sustainability are starting to become an integral part of construction practice. The new shortages of energy and raw materials precipitated by the rise of new economic superpowers like China are partly responsible. In addition, the United Nations climate conferences and Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth have helped make the public at large aware of the negative repercussions of our way of life.

Construction is responsible for about 20 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions and 30 per cent of energy demand; this ranks it alongside the chemical and transport industries among the biggest polluters. Sustainability is therefore one of the most significant issues for designers and architects, as well as a challenging field for innovation and research. Yet simple solutions are not easily available. A wide range of approaches are now being demonstrated in practice, from the idealistic-holistic and politically engaged to the pragmatic and commercial. At times these approaches complement each other; at times they frankly conflict.

Take for instance the much-discussed Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy of American architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart. Energy supplies, remarkably enough, are not an issue within Cradle-to- Cradle thinking as long as this energy is generated sustainably and the cycle of material flows are well organized without exhausting natural sources. Superuse, the name given by the 2012Architecten bureau to its approach to material recycling in architecture, is paradoxically at odds with the Cradle-to-Cradle concept. From McDonough and Braungart’s perspective, such an inventive form of recycling begins at the wrong end of the system and Superuse is nothing more than a further degradation of materials in the various cycles of reuse. There are many other conflicting approaches: in counterpoint to Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG, who advocates a new hedonistic architecture that, free of Protestant guilt, exploits the opportunities of reuse and energy management to the utmost, we find the international movements of eco-village and Transition Towns, which propagate new definitions of social responsibility through alternative lifestyles and forms of good governance.

In order to demonstrate the various basic principles and possibilities of a sustainable architecture of housing, this issue of DASH is devoted to the eco house. As architectural design is the focus, the discussion primarily concentrates on architectural invention rather than on the application and integration of today’s highly advanced (and often expensive) technological remedies, such as climate-control installations. The house by Carlos Weeber in Curaçao is one of the most evident demonstrations – a comfortably interior climate is achieved without the use of air conditioning, but through principles of cross-ventilation, shade and natural cooling. The organization of the interior climate by dividing the home into zones produces special typologies that are characteristic of the eco house, from the hippie architecture of Earthship and Dome to cosy, middle-class conservatories in the back garden.

Author Biographies

Dick van Gameren, Delft University of Technology

Dick van Gameren  is dean and full professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology, and partner at Mecanoo architecten in Delft, the Netherlands. Combining his work as an architect with a professorship, Van Gameren maintains a critical approach to design by lecturing, researching and publishing. In 2007, Van Gameren won the prestigious Aga Kahn Award for the design of the Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia. In 2008, Van Gameren founded the book series DASH (Delft Architectural Studies on Housing) and is since then editor in chief. At TU Delft. He leads the Global Housing Study Centre and is also board member of the Archiprix foundation, of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre in Rotterdam and of the Amsterdam based AMS Institute. He is also a member of the TU Delft Global Initiative Steering Committee.

Dirk van den Heuvel, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Dirk van den Heuvel is an associate professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. He also heads the Jaap Bakema Study Centre at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Books he (co-)authored include Jaap Bakema and the Open Society (2018), Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present 1953-1981 (2005) and Architecture and the Welfare State (2014). He is a member of the editorial board of the online journal for architecture theory Footprint, and he was an editor of the journal OASE (1993-1999). Van den Heuvel was curator of the Dutch national pavilion for the Venice architecture biennale in 2014. In 2017 he received a Richard Rogers Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Frederique van Andel, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Frederique van Andel holds a Master’s degree in both urban planning and architecture from Delft University of Technology. She worked for Mecanoo architecten and DP6 architectuurstudio in Delft, and lived in Barcelona where she worked with architect Toni Gironès. Since 2006, Frederique is a researcher and lecturer in the Global Housing research group of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU Delft. Her main topic of interest is affordable housing for growing cities in the Global South. Frederique curated the exhibition ‘Global Housing – Affordable Dwellings for Growing Cities’ (2016) with venues in Delft and Addis Ababa. She is editor of the book series DASH (Delft Architectural Studies on Housing) and coordinates and edits the online Platform for Affordable Dwelling (PAD). Frederique teaches Master courses on Global Housing Design and Bachelor courses on Plan Analysis. She is project manager for the research project ‘Addis Ababa Living Lab: Creating Resilient Dwelling Clusters for Urban Resettlement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’, funded by the Dutch Research Council and TU Delft (2019-2023).

Piet Vollaard, Archined

Piet Vollaard is the director of ArchiNed, an architect, a teacher at various Academies for Architecture and Delft University of Technology, and the author of, among others, Herman Haan, architect and the Guide to Modern Architecture in the Netherlands