Sublime beauty, sublime sustainability

The Dutch Chief Government Architect organised the design competition ‘Sublime beauty, sublime sustainability’ together with the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency.

Nine iconic Dutch churches in the Netherlands have joined forces to achieve sublime forms of sustainability. Each of these church buildings represents an exceptional and sublime architectural quality. The design competition ‘Sublime beauty, sublime sustainability’ wants to bring out the best in communities. But now in the light of the sustainability challenge.

Poetry and technology

The iconic church buildings turn out to have an extraordinary energy bill. This is not only a heavy financial burden. It is also a challenging task to investigate whether it is possible to achieve an exceptional form of sustainability. It requires a combination of poetry and technology to adapt these church buildings to changing usage requirements. This design competition seeks to develop knowledge and insights that can be significant for the whole of society. How can we organise our lives so that we do not leave a trail of destruction behind us? How can we combine sustainability with beauty?

For the design competition ‘Sublime beauty, sublime sustainability’, three design teams (led by Braaksma Roos, ABT and Coup) were selected and asked to design a combination of poetry and technology. These teams combined design, art or interior design skills, with sustainability expertise and knowledge of the cultural aspects of these religious monuments.

The competition resulted in three design proposals to make nine iconic church buildings more sustainable, along three thematic lines: indoor climate, energy connections and connection to the environment.  The common thread: a different approach to sustainability. Not the technique, but the beauty of these buildings is the starting point for preservation.