With the experience and the pleasure that Sjoekie de Bijll Nachenius gained at BiermanHenket, she says goodbye to the firm at the end of this year. In the knowledge that the office is in good hands, because: “There is whole new generation that - under the inspiring leadership of Janneke, Yvonne and Joep - will help move the firm forwards with their experience and new energy.” People with connecting qualities who, like her, want to be surprised.
“What makes this profession so interesting and fascinating is that with each new project, you step into a new world. An environment with an ecosystem of its own, ready for you to discover. That starts with the people and organisations. How do they work, and how do we work together in the design process?” Sjoekie says. “But it is also the energy that you experience when a project is taking shape, and you walk through your own design one day. Each time, that is a sensation.” And to think that during her studies in Delft, she designed an archaeological museum for shipwrecks. She then thought that such an opportunity to be surprised would not occur very often in working life. The opposite proved to be the case. “The portfolio of BiermanHenket only has ‘graduation projects’ in the most spectacular places.”
What started with her application with the firm because of the Maas theatre in Rotterdam was given a follow-up in the most diverse projects that all share one important feature: their social relevance. Like the nationally listed Open-Air Swimming Pool in Zwolle. “An almost impossible job from a technical point of view, but the people involved had so much love for this place.” Civil-engineering projects also came along, such as the Barrage Ensemble Nederrijn en Lek and the lock at Eefde. “The renovation of the Barrage Ensemble had been contracted out to an electro-technical company, but the barrages also have an undeniable architectural quality. Partly as a result of our efforts, the whole ensemble – the barrages in Hagestein, Amerongen and Driel – was regarded as a monument during the renovation.” A designation that the Lock complex in Eefde already boasted. Here, the integration into the landscape of a new passageway required extra attention. “Every day, this lock attracts many visitors. In order not to disturb the special experience, an aesthetic programme of requirements has been drawn up in cooperation with the landscape architect. With the new chamber enhancing the character of the monumental lift towers and with sufficient space around the lock for watching the spectacle of ships passing through the lock.”
The more complex, the more interesting
Where history, social aspects, research and technical knowhow meet, the qualities of BiermanHenket have full play. Sjoekie: “We love projects that people have a connection with, places that matter. The more complex the job, the more interesting it is. That is where our strength lies. We are good at listening. To people and to the environment. While looking at the influence of history and how this comes together with the function.” Exploring the boundaries is something that is not shunned in the process. This also goes for the Prinsenhof in Delft, where a connecting corridor and 32 height differences are taken leave of to ensure that the museum will become more accessible and more open. “We are not afraid to make choices, because such a firm intervention sometimes allows you to tackle multiple problems at the same time. Besides, making a statement is never the starting point, it is always the consequence of the question.”