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MAR 2023 – TconcepT

Based in the Netherlands, TconcepT are specialists in architecture, concept design and placemaking around the globe and their mission is to build places that are inviting and inspiring. Here, RLI spends some time with Founding Partner and Senior Architect Willem-Joost de Vries to learn more about how the company works, some of their recently completed projects and what their goals are moving forward.

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TconcepT creates projects where the aesthetic, functional, economic, feasible and sustainable aspects are in full harmony. On top of this, they always add value to a project, whether this is for the stakeholders, the visitor, the tenant, the city or the investor. They do this by building attractive, sustainable spaces where people feel welcome and safe, a perfect balance between public space and lettable area.

The business has a long and broad history in retail-based inner-city re-development. With 25 years of experience in different countries with varying disciplines and architects, they now create projects that alter city destinations and repurpose buildings and spaces in 22 countries all across Europe.

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Hof van Rijswijk
Rijswijk, Netherlands

“These inner-city redevelopments are building on the DNA of each city, ensuring that redundant and obsolete spaces are reused and revitalised,” explains Willem-Joost de Vries, Founding Partner and Senior Architect of TconcepT. “We re-imagine a city and we do this with our people-based approach to planning. It is not about shopping centres, it is about meeting points and about human scale, bringing the new retail experience into a healthy-city plan.”

An example of this can be found at Zuidplein, the main shopping centre of the southern part of Rotterdam. With over 160 shops it is one of the largest shopping complexes in the Netherlands with 60,000sq m GLA. The mall is the centre of the Heart of the South mixed-use densification area that also encompasses a residential area, a cinema, a theatre, a hotel and a convention centre.

As part of the renovation of this area, TconcepT convinced more than 50 individual owners to invest in the centre so that not only would more people visit the centre, but they would extend their stay on-site. They focused primarily on improving the sightlines, quality, circulation and the experience of the mall. Entrances, malls, squares and touch points were redesigned. By removing bridges and stairs, installing higher shop fronts and using light and natural materials, they transformed the mall into a transparent and fresh environment that featured some attractive F&B spaces. The mall also increased in size by 7,000sq m through the addition of convenience stores.

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Paycasmayo, Peru

“Away from major flagship projects such as Zuidplein, we work on projects across a multitude of scales. In Peru for example we are designing in cooperation with two other Dutch firms Jora Vision (Leisure Design) and Conceptional (F&B Design) a theme park name INKA park that will be the biggest theme park in South America upon completion,” de Vries highlights.
Other large-scale new projects for the firm are a retail park named Kampus Istanbul and an inner city mixed-use project called Orion in Corlu, both in Turkey.

While the business may be best known for designing shopping centres, in recent years they have become specialists in transforming and redesigning shopping areas, particularly those built in the modernist movement. Rijswijk in its home country is a by-product of this. Originally a shopping centre of 60,000sq m GLA, the site has been transformed into a mixed-use complex through the addition of 100,000sq m of housing.

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Rotterdam, Netherlands

This has been done partly by reusing the concrete structures made originally for retail and turning them into housing. Willem-Joost explains that new housing towers have been built around a park and new retail has been introduced to strengthen the shopping loop. He goes onto say that the site will become a strong centre, with social and private housing, leisure and public functions that are all viewable on newly created parks.

Relationships are pivotal to any business and TconcepT has maintained long-term relationships with many of their clients, leading to trust and even friendship. Their in-house architects consist of an eclectic mix of nationalities, each with their own individual skill sets and de Vries points out that between them they speak some 12 languages, which helps them understand the needs of their clients.

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Port City, Oranjestad

This trust with clients allows the company to excel in the area of sustainability, as they are able to challenge their clients on the sustainable ambition of any given project. Whilst the common way is by achieving the BREEAM or LEED certification, de Vries feels there is more to it than this.
“It is also about circularity, biodiversity, smart mobility, heat stress, water and ‘everlasting design’. A building that will function for decades without major renovation is very sustainable.”

Currently they are designing a harbour for electric boats and sailing boats on the Zuidas in Amsterdam. This harbour will be an example of sustainability in a nature area, The Nieuwe Meer. Everything they are constructing there is made from CLT and is 100 per cent circular and solar powered.

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Hilltown Mall
Izmir, Turkey

When discussing what the key strengths of TconcepT are and what de Vries can put their ongoing success down to, he explains they understand that a good design needs to add value across the board. “We can do this because we are multidisciplinary and well-rehearsed in addressing the issues of today. We also understand the financial restraint, all should be in balance.”
As our time with Willem-Joost comes to an end, he finishes our conversation on the topics of challenges and the future, saying that the challenge moving forward is to make cities smart and healthy, to make them knowledge centres, creative hubs, green spaces and most of all, sustainable.

“Population is growing and people are gravitating towards the cities. We as architects have an enormous task together with the stakeholders to create this new world. The future will be shaped by the decisions we make now. Picture a city on a human scale where everyone is walking and cycling or on electric mopeds, circular buildings, urban farms, pocket parks, zero energy buildings, solar and wind powered. We want to build technologically smart cities where people feel safe and at home.”