KCAP Architects&Planners is a Dutch office for architecture, urban design and urban planning, founded by Kees Christiaanse in 1989. During the last 20 years KCAP has established itself as one of the leading international practices in the fields of architecture and urbanism.
Working on an international level from the start, KCAP has designed and realized projects in major countries and cities all over the world such as Hamburg, Zurich, Perm, London, Beijing and Amsterdam. The office gained international recognition with projects such as Kavel 25 housing block in The Hague [NL], Wijnhaveneiland and the Red Apple in Rotterdam [NL], GWL district in Amsterdam [NL], HafenCity in Hamburg [DE] and the Perm Strategic Masterplan [RU]. Recently KCAP won competitions including IAK office ensemble in Luxembourg, the Bay of Passaia in San Sebastian [ES], NEO Brussels [BE] and the office building on Ile de la Jatte in Paris [FR].
Field of work
With a multi-disciplinary approach to complex design issues, KCAP has gained extensive experience in large-scale urban design and master planning, waterfront redevelopments, campus design and public transportation hubs. Architectural designs range from housing, education and care to public and utility buildings and mixed-use programs. KCAP develops concepts and visions that address sustainability, urbanization and infrastructure. KCAP is connected to various urban research programs.
Currently KCAP is working on a wide range of high profile projects including the development vision for Schiphol Airport Amsterdam, NEO, the transformation of Brussels’ Northern Heysel area and Strategic Vision for Bruxelles 2040 which aims to create a more integrated metropolitan region as it faces the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
KCAP is based in Rotterdam and has two branch offices in Zurich (CH) and Shanghai (CN). KCAP Zurich was established in 2006 after winning two international design competitions in Zurich. KCAP Shanghai, established in early 2011, and supports KCAP’s growing portfolio in China.
From the Zurich office KCAP is working on a variety of urban and architectural projects throughout Switzerland, Germany and France including Science City Zurich, an urban development vision for the university campus of the ETH, masterplan Europaallee Zurich, which prescribes the transformation of the area around Zurich main station. In China, KCAP is involved in the masterplan for the Central Business District Beijing, the redevelopment of the Southside of Olympic Park Beijing and the second phase of the urban competition Shenzhen 2040.
Team and staff
KCAP is led by 4 partners; founder Kees Christiaanse, architects Han van den Born and Irma van Oort, and urban planner Ruurd Gietema. KCAP Zurich is managed by director Ute Schneider. The daily base project and resource planning in the Rotterdam office is done by associates Frank Werner and Evert Dorresteijn.
KCAP employs a staff of 75 professionals including architects, urban designers, landscape architects and urban planners of about 20 nationalities. Mentoring systems and maintaining close ties to major universities in Europe and Asia, to ‘think tanks’ and non-governmental institutions, fostering young architects and promoting an ongoing research culture within the office, have earned KCAP a reputation as progressive and humanist organization. KCAP handles a ‘collegiate’ approach at every level, which enables design and management to collaborate and contribute their individual expertise to all phases of the projects.
KCAP represents an integrated working methodology based on a multidisciplinary and simultaneous engagement in themes, program, typology and context. This allows for a variety of approaches, creates intensity and cross-fertilizations in the design process and forms the base for scenario development and testing. Ultimately it enables us to understand and optimize the possibilities imbedded in the projects and supports their successful realization. As an objective, KCAP aims to develop clear and vivid solutions and ethical responses to social, economic and pragmatic aspects.
Being part of a tradition that fosters identity, we understand the need for creating symbols in the production of cities. We envision design to respond to pragmatic demands such as program, population growth, traffic congestion and to reinforce the culture to which they belong. KCAP adds and expresses new features in the city and actively creates new and attractive built environments.
Design is the foundation for a low carbon future, and is the most effective solution to climate change – even more so than renewable energy. Design allows us to do more with less.
In an age when concern for the global environment is one of the most debated topics, KCAP takes its obligation and addresses the growing concerns regarding sustainability seriously. As part of a wider design team, KCAP has undertaken extensive research into a responsible approach to energy consumption, technologies that harness passive energy sources, and systems that reduce energy consumption and regulate harmful emissions. The results of this research are applied to every scheme regardless of size or budget.
Our approach to sustainability implies a shift from a traditional technological solution towards a more comprehensive holistic approach, a whole system approach – not a sum of single silver bullet solutions.
Central to KCAP’s philosophy is a commitment to creating public spaces that enliven and rejuvenate inner-city areas. This commitment informs all KCAP buildings, both public and private. With more than 20 years of experience in building various kinds of programs and with a structured planning process KCAP realizes designs of a high technical quality and specific attention to detail and material.
Cities are the breeding grounds of economic growth and innovation. Intensive interaction, in its turn, leads to innovative activities. Thinking in open, strategic and stimulating frameworks and with an emphasis on vibrant public realm is central to all of our master planning projects.
As urban planners we ought to design sustainable, smart ‘breeding grounds’ where existing and novel structures and programmes, some still unknown to us, might flourish and interweave. Urban design as the coordinator of the collective should obtain a degree of neutrality, for architecture should blossom in 1000 flowers. In other words: Urban design is about creating conditions for freedom.
Above all, we’re cultural impresarios
KCAP acts as a mediator between different interests. KCAP navigates, communicates and encourages interaction. As a mediator KCAP ensures a certain flexibility through a network of permanent qualitative rules within which all actors can operate with relative freedom. This combination of freedom while retaining specific rules warrants control over the development, form and execution of a project. Within this process KCAP assumes a leadership role and acts based on a comprehensive understanding, linking architecture and urban planning as integral disciplines.