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Drawing the industry: working as an architect at Bilfinger





I started my career as an architect at Bilfinger 31 years ago. With a university degree in both engineering and architecture, this job suits me very well. Before working at Bilfinger, I co-owned an architectural firm in the Netherlands. However, after some years I experienced that many of my daily tasks involved managing the company instead of actually doing architectural work. That, together with a relocation back to my roots in Southern Limburg, made me take the step of changing my career and joining Bilfinger. I am glad I made this change, as I have been able to put full focus on my true passion; architecture.

Bringing the engineers’ technical designs together in one building

Working as an architect at Bilfinger is incredibly diverse. Every project is different, especially because our clients cover various markets, which makes my work very fun and challenging. A factory building in the Pharma market for example requires a very different design keeping in mind strict hygiene rules than a design for the (Petro)chemical market. The diversity in projects keeps you on your toes constantly, which is one of the biggest reasons I have been with the company for so long.

The challenge of my work lies in bringing the engineers’ technical designs together in one building. Simply put, this is also the difference between the work of an engineer and an architect. An engineer focuses on their discipline and makes sure the technical design works. The architect takes all these designs and brings them together into one building, also keeping in mind all building-related matters. As an architect, I am currently primarily involved in the start of the process, so the feasibility studies and conceptual designs. I was also involved in setting up our so-called Pitstop approach, where we get together in high-energy sessions with the client to develop their project. Usually, I am already sketching whilst talking to the client and am therefore able to show them a first rough sketch of what was discussed at the end. They love this!

Drawing: my lifelong passion

I have been drawing all my life: it is probably why I became an architect in the first place. However, architects hardly draw these days and mainly spend their time behind computers, which is also the case for me. One evening, on a business trip to Prague, I saw a man sitting on the bank of the Moldau with a sketchbook on his lap. That is when it hit me: that is what I want to do as well! As I traveled a lot for work, I decided to make at least one sketch of something local I saw on every trip. I posted my sketches on a blog and gradually found a group of sketchers around me who did the same. In 2008, Gabi Campineiro from Seattle started an initiative called “Urban Sketchers” and invited me to join the group. The interest for urban sketching exploded and resulted in a book, which features two of my sketches made in New York. I also make sketches and watercolors of some of our projects. See below an example of a drawing I made based on our project for Chugoku Paint BV.

If you are interested in my work, you can check my website or follow my blog on which I frequently post my drawings.


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