Jasmin Dieterle-Proesel and Lennaart Sirag on the MVRDV DNA.

The four pillars of sustainability

MVRDV projects are very diverse in their appearance. What is it that distinguishes the architecture of MVRDV?
Lennaart: Our goal is to configure every building intelligently and give it a significance. The architecture can lend an astonishing charisma. However, it can also define a unique merger between uses and moods.

So at MVRDV, sustainability is not just about using the right materials, but about finding the right architectural solutions through an intense involvement with the location, the uses and the form of construction. Is that right?
Lennaart: Exactly. By really defining and presenting the significance of the building by way of this process, it is given a special quality and is per se already sustainable.
Jasmin: It is no longer just about building at any price. We realise now that the most sustainable approach is not to build at all, instead to reuse the building stock and upgrade it in such a way that it regains its identity. One example of this is our Expo Pavilion in Hanover. But, of course, we can also do the same on a smaller scale. We work extensively with how to reuse materials, but also research the use of new products.

How does MVRDV go about finding out about new materials and developments?
Jasmin: The MVRDV NEXT research team is constantly studying sustainable forms of construction and materials and provides input for all our projects. In addition, computer-aided studies show how new findings can be implemented in construction. Let me give you an example: In Munich we are currently working with reused clay bricks. Using a program we wrote ourselves, we are able to match the different bricks to the appearance of the facade with its high architectural demands.

To what extent does certification play a role in your planning?
Jasmin: It is usually the building owner who expresses a wish for some kind of certification. There are marketing reasons for that. But the interesting point here is that it makes the building calculable. The standards we apply to all our projects generally lie higher than the requirements for certification.

Which standards are they?
Jasmin: We call that our MVRDV DNA. It consists of four pillars. The first goal is to save as much energy as possible and generate further energy sustainably. The second pillar concerns the embodied CO2. In other words: Where do the materials come from? What do we want to use? Do we want to use it or do we want to avoid using it? The third pillar is the circular economy. This is an especially important topic that plays a role in every project. The fourth pillar concerns the biodiversity and positive climatic effects that our building should achieve. Roofscapes are therefore one of our special features. These do not simply employ extensive vegetation, instead are places of constant action.

At what phase of the project does the sustainability of a building become clear?
Jasmin: The big decisions are made right at the start of the draft design phase. And if the right decisions are made, then all the subsequent steps follow.

Your project partner for Ilot Queyries in Bordeaux or Ascension Paysagère in Rennes was Agrob Buchtal, a specialist in ceramic facades. Why did you choose this manufacturer?
Lennaart: Agrob Buchtal provided support right from a relatively early phase of these projects. For example, there were difficult three-dimensional corners that required special solutions. We asked ourselves: How will that work? Can we do it with ceramics? Right from the concept phase, we had the necessary technical support and were able to see whether the design demands we had set ourselves really would work.

Were all the ceramic panels prefabricated or was a lot of work carried out on site?
Lennaart: The good thing about ceramics is that you do not have to prefabricate everything. Ceramic products can be cut to size as required, which means that architects do not have to be afraid of designing complicated geometries – final trimming is possible on site. Of course, as far as possible, the dimensions of the panels should be agreed during the planning stage so that factory production can be maximised.

How do you rate ceramic surfaces generally in terms of their sustainability?
Lennaart: This is a situation where reusability really plays a major role. Although this aspect is not always so critical for the certification considerations, it is still an important aspect of the material for us.

Does MVRDV often use ceramics?
Lennaart: Personally, I love using ceramics because of their great robustness. Of course, we use other materials as well. But in our view, there are no products that can match the durability of ceramics. Dig below the desert sands of Iraq and you’ll find ceramic materials 5,000 years old which are still intact! Not many other materials can match that.

Interview: May-Britt Frank-Grosse


Jasmin Dieterle-Proesel is an architect and project manager at MVRDV in Berlin, where she has been since January 2022. Prior to that she spent many years as a project manager coordinating numerous large projects at home and abroad. Sustainability is one of the key aspects of her work. She is a DGNB consultant and LEED Accredited Professional, with a special focus on the circular economy and min- imising carbon footprints. Jasmin Dieterle-Proesel studied architecture at HTWG Konstanz University of Applied Sciences and at the Royal College of Art in London.


Lennaart Sirag has 20 years of experience gained in the Netherlands and Germany. During his career he has worked on many large inner-city, mixed-use projects, from initial concept to final realisation. Over the years he gained profound expertise in architectural design, general planning and technical due diligence. Up until February 2023, as the manager of MVRDV’s Berlin office, he was responsible for all phases of design and construction in the practice’s projects in the German-speaking countries.