‘We are all learning from each other’

Robert van den Brink

Robert van den Brink (28) is right at home in his role as a work planner at BAM Bouw en Techniek’s large project division. That’s not just because of his current project, the eye-catching Depot for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. It’s also because of being part of a learning organisation together with his colleagues. ‘It’s really cool to work here.’

It was by no means certain that BAM would have the benefit of Robert’s talents. After obtaining his master’s degree in building sciences he was at a crossroads: stay in the Netherlands or move to Finland with his Finnish girlfriend, who he had met during an eight-month exchange programme in Stockholm. ‘In the end, we made very practical decision and stayed in the Netherlands because it offered us both the best chance of finding suitable and challenging jobs. She is now working as an architect in a Dutch firm.’

An important issue

Robert, meanwhile, has been with BAM for about a year and a half. Before this, he worked at a consultancy. ‘Real estate companies would hire us to plan works on the sustainability of their buildings. In many cases, though, things would not go beyond the consultancy stage, while I was interested in making these plans a reality. Which explains why I chose BAM. Sustainability of the built environment is an important issue, and one that BAM is increasingly involved in.’

In the Depot project, Robert sees sustainability playing a key role in the installations, more so even than in the structural part. ‘Given the purpose of the building as an art storage facility, the focus is mostly on technology, most importantly for climate control. In the site office, my planning team mates for the electrical and mechanical installations share a room with those for the engineering. This allows us to keep lines short and maintain a common focus, so we are really working as a team and learning a lot from each other. We’re also working closely with the modellers of BAM Advies & Engineering. So many disciplines together in a room… it’s a big boost for the quality of end product.’

Curved façade

A key feature of the Depot is its cup-like shape, with mirror-clad façades curving in two directions and a miniature forest sitting on top. ‘This is not a run-of-the-mill project,’ says Robert. ‘The complexity of the shape and the amount of unusual connections make a 3D model virtually indispensable in translating the design into drawings. To share the model with the people on site we’re using iPads. The way the mirrors are anchored to the façade has been worked out in minute detail in the 3D model. We’ve already built the whole thing in virtual reality, so fitting the mirrors in the real world is now going ultra-smoothly.’

Personal development

‘And I’m learning something new every day. Being one of the younger members in a relatively small team may give me the benefit of being a digital native, but the more senior members have a wealth of accumulated know-how and practical experience. It’s great to be able to contribute to the management of a project like this one.’

‘Looking towards the future, I hope to be able to further develop in my role and above all learn to fully grasp the essence of the construction process. That’s where I can see our opportunities to make digital and sustainable construction a success, if we can only give those a place in the core process.’