JDWA – design practice for architecture and complex urban development

JDWA is a design practice for architecture and complex urban development in the existing city with an approach based on research and design. Our approach is always grounded in the local context with regards to spatial aspects as well as the socio-cultural and economic conditions. Our work is grounded on the search for opportunities through innovate design research, on various scales, for places that at first sight only seem restricted. Designing together and for residents of the neighborhoods is a very important aspect of our work. Generic concepts and standard typologies are never used directly but change according to the project’s context and complexity. For the project to be successful this approach results in an intense working process that demands a lot of communication and interaction between the client, future users and the design team. The real needs are often beyond written briefs and become apparent through discussions and intensive research within a multidisciplinary environment. We constantly engage in projects that form a conceptual challenge for the design team, either because of their programmatic complexity, their location in the city or their technical constraints. By formulating challenging concepts we explore the tensions between dream and reality through architectural and urban design. Concept, context and technique are solid parts in the design process.


Johan De Wachter

After his studies at the Catholic University of Louvain (KUL) in Belgium, Johan De Wachter worked for the Office of Metropolitan Architecture of Rem Koolhaas from 2000 until 2004. There he contributed to a large number of projects and competitions. In 2003 Johan founded the Fün Design Consultancy and was partner until 2005. In 2005 he founded JDWA and in 2011 he teamed up with Rik De Vooght to establish 2DVW Architects in Antwerp. He has been teaching at the Delft Technical University and the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design. Currently he is teaching at the Fontys Hogeschool voor Architectuur & Stedenbouw in Tilburg. In January 2015 Johan De Wachter was appointed associate professor at the Kaunas University of Technology (Lituania) where he leads the urban planning studio focused on city transformation. The focus is an extensive research on the soviet neighborhoods. One studio ‘Microraion Transformation Strategies’ examines the transformation possibilities of socialist monofunctional housing areas through a combination of renovation, programmatical diversification, typological innovation, new constructions and redefining public space. The second studio ‘City (axis) Transformation Strategies’ investigates transformation and reuse on a larger scale including infrastructural aspects and reprogramming on a city scale. Within the university context the studio aims to create a research project where other departments and faculties (engineering, infrastructure, building technology, sustainability, …) collaborate in a multidisciplinary environment.


Marieke van Hensbergen

Marieke was born near Amsterdam. Her curious character stimulated her to explore the city and beyond. The lines of trees and water of the surrounding polders triggered her abstract thinking. She moved to the United States at the age of nine. Here she travelled through all the states and learned the meaning of space, bigness, emptiness, density, park, city, a.o. Back in the Netherlands she developed a special interest in the flexibility of structures and plots. Her ever growing interest in the use of space and the always changing built environment set her off to study architecture in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Delft. After her studies she started working at JDWA where she contributed to many projects and competitions.


Patricia Mata Mayrand

I have been involved in architecture projects for 15 years with a focus on design solutions that bring together efficiency, comfort and identity for the final user. The simplification of the process that allows to reach solutions for complex issues has always been an obsession of mine. In this line I made up my career through different offices, and within the offices through the different projects I have worked on. A good reference of this achievement is the project Deca factory. I came to Holland after finishing the University with a scholarship to work in MVRDV, after which I went back to Spain to build a villa on the coast. Once again in Holland I worked in EEA and with a more clear idea of what I wanted to achieve I decided to join JDWA.


Joris van Arkel

Joris van Arkel grew up in Rotterdam, but studied architecture at the University of Antwerp. He completed his masters at the KU Leuven in Brussels. His thesis: Architecture for the post Anthropocene was part of the ‘Surrender/Resistance’ exposition in ‘Kanal: Centre Pompidou’, about innovative architecture. His documentary BRU.S.L.XL. was shown as part of the International Architecture Biennale of Rotterdam in 2018.
Since 2018 he has been working at JDWA architects in Rotterdam. Here he specializes in architectural transformation projects, urban analysis and strategy. He worked on development scenario’s for the former Zwitsal factory complex in Apeldoorn, the refurbishment of factory buildings of Upfield/Unilever in Rotterdam and new developments for the ‘Havenkwartier’ in Deventer.
Since 2018 he as been part of a team with Posad/Maxwan working on, amongst other things, the ‘Bouwmeesterscans’, for the Vlaams Bouwmeester. The scans formulate strategic ambitions and concrete projects for the urban transition of so far ten different Flemish municipalities.


Liene Medniece

Liene is originally from Riga, Latvia where they really know what the cold means. She has known since primary school that she wanted to become an architect. During her Bachelor degree Liene studied on exchange programs in two different universities in Spain – the Polytechnic University of Valencia and also in Cartagena. She is currently living in Rotterdam meanwhile taking Masters studies, which is based back at her University in Riga. Liene is developing her design style, where alongside having a desire to make something unique she always prioritizes the human aspect of architecture, focusing on providing quality, atmosphere and soul to a space. She is a versatile personality who loves to try all kinds of new things, spending her free time playing badminton, singing in a choir, playing table tennis, jogging, doing athletics, drawing and more.


Katarína Karásková

Katarína was born in Slovakia, and already from an early age she always had one foot abroad. While she studied her bachelor’s degree in architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, she took part in the Erasmus exchange programme in Poland. After graduation, she moved to the Netherlands for the first time, to gain experience at an internship at RHDHV before starting her Master’s degree at Politecnico di Milano. During her studies she came across several new and interesting topics which inspired her, and she graduated with a thesis exploring and experimenting with alternative materials in residential architecture. As her first experience in the Netherlands was very enriching and she fell in love with the Dutch architecture, she returned. Katarína believes that good architecture comes from thinking outside the box and is enthusiastic about any kind of project. She can always find something to enjoy about it and learn something new.


Maciek Konik

My adventure with architecture began in 2016 when I started my studies at Cracow University of Technology. During my education  I took the opportunity to travel to Spain and to study at the Universidad de Alicante. I started my work experience in the third year of studies in an office in Cracow. I worked on various kinds of projects – mostly single and multi-family houses, but also interior design, offices and industrial buildings. My role was to prepare technical drawings, 3D models and renderings for every stage of the project. After almost a year I switched to a bigger office, where I worked on football stadiums – as a big football fan I found it very interesting. I had the opportunity to work with advanced BIM technology with multi-level inter-industry coordination. I’ve graduated in September 2021 with my master degree diploma “New Refugee Centre on Hal Far, Malta”.


Shamila Gostelow

Shamila was born in London, where she began her interest and studies in architecture. She completed her bachelors degree at Kingston University London with a refugee housing project based in Cologne. She then had her sights set on the outside world, living and working in Zurich before finally settling in the Netherlands. She achieved her masters degree at TU Delft with her thesis “A Cultural Palace” focusing on the transformation of vacant heritage within the Netherlands. She has worked on many existing building projects including the Boijmans van Beuiningen Museum, where her fragment model of the Museum is currently on display in the new Depot building by MVRDV. She is eager to further her knowledge in urbanism and masterplanning with both existing and new build projects through working at JDWA, keeping contextual and human-centered design always at the forefront.


Gongbu Han

Gongbu was born in Xiangyang, China, a small town in the middle of China which is famous for its beef noodles. He got his Bachelor’s degree in Tianjin and then went to Delft to pursue his architecture dream further. Being the first time ever in his life to see the world outside his motherland, it took him a while to get used to the Netherlands and finally fall in love with it, as well as the continent. In his master thesis ‘Three Scales of Weathering’ he combined an architectural narration regarding water pollution and post-industrial landscape with consideration of space, details and the dimension of time, which was also the point when his methodology of designing through researching matured, and developed a strong interest in details and materiality. He is eager to apply, and at the same time hone his take on architecture at JDWA.


Anastasiya Klimentieva

Arrived recently to Rotterdam from Odessa, a city in Ukraine that has a lot in common with Rotterdam. Its harbour function, a similar history and the multinational population that in many ways defines the city’s spirit.
In designing she follows the principle of Friedensreich Hundertwasser stating that a building is like a person’s third skin. It is important to combine the beauty of urban space with that of the building, while matching its exterior and interior with the functionality and implementation of ergonomic requirements.
Received her master’s degree in Odessa state academy of civil engineering and architecture. Got experience designing in Italy, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan and travelled a lot. Therefore, finds it fascinating to explore the unique identity of each place and to implement this coloring to projects.That’s why she decided to move to Rotterdam and find inspiration in its unique architecture. 

Former collaborators: Nicolette Marzovilla (2017-2022), Marcel Wachala (2021-2022), Pavel Haniš (2020-2021)Anneke Wisse (2020-2021), Monique Haarman (2019-2020), Anna Dobrawa Kicinska (2019-2020), Marco Moretto (2017-2020), Heejin Chung (2018-2019), Virginia Lazarou (2019), Xavier Aguilar (2017-2018), Mathieu Chataignier (2018-2019), Cristina Genovese (2018-2019), David Zatloukal (2018), Helen Devine (2018), Gemma Carcasona Molió (2017-2018), Anne Declerck (2017-2018), Théophile Paquet (2017), Karolis Grigaitis (2017), Andrius Kalinauskas (2011-2017), Erica Volpini (2017), Anna Kintsurashvili (2015-2017), Job Willems (2011-2017), Mikas Kauzonas (2014-2016), Cristina Filca (2016), Monika Mickute (2015-2016), Liana Sofiadi (2015–2016)Luis Larrauri R Viguri (2014), Elina Jakovele (2011–2014), Viktorija Gailiūtė (2013-2014), Kim van den Hoven (2009-2013), Gonçalo Castanheira (2013), Isabel Marcos (2012), Lourdes Carretero (2012), Eunjin Kang (2011), Martijn Kwant (2010), Gonçalo Matos (2007-09), Smahan Amrach (2008-09), Manueline Caseau (2008-09), Tiago Pinto de Carvalho (2008), Dipl.Ing. Kerem Masaraci (2008), María Alejandra Maennling (2007), Dipl.Ing. Jens Pötzsch (2007), Ir. Joana Torres (2006-07), Louise Nedergaard Clausen (2006-07), Ir. M.H.Farshid Madjidi (2007), Ana Ruiz (2006), Jef Hendrickx (2006), Antonio Rodriguez Camara (2006), Laura Gracia (2005-06), Alexandra Waluda (2005), Tuuli Köller (2005, 2007-08), Ceren Hancioglu (2005),  Teo Hidalgo (2005), Ignacio Cabezas (2005), Diego Ochayta (2004), Julia Rodriguez Bujan (2004), Zuoming Wang (2004), Pei Liu (2004)