Working With Developers on District E

03 March 2018

An Interview with Mark Rabbie, freelance concept developer.

“From the very first moment we entered the competition for the station square in Eindhoven, we knew that we had to involve Powerhouse Company,” says Mark Rabbie. As a freelance concept developer he had worked with Powerhouse Company on two other projects that are currently being built. But that wasn’t the reason why he and real estate developer Amvest chose Powerhouse Company for this particular competition. “To be honest, if the demands formulated by the municipality would have been more precise, with a set amount of square meters and a fixed program, we might (...) have chosen another architect”, Rabbie states. But in this case, the competition left a lot of room for interpretation, challenging the developer to come up with an original concept and program. Amvest was up to the challenge, but realised they needed an architectural office that would be able to connect research and design in a dynamic way. 

Rabbie, who describes himself as the intermediary between the wishes of the developing partners and stakeholders on the one hand, and the design partners on the other, knew that Powerhouse Company would have had the energy to lead this uncertain design process on the right track.


“You know”, Rabbie continues, “when you work on a competition you want to work with an architect who doesn’t design what you want, but who understands what you want. The interaction between an architect and a developer can be very intense. This results in architects giving in to the ideas that developers come up with. During the entire competition process, Powerhouse Company kept listening to all parties involved, while at the same time adding their own ideas. They stayed focussed and kept coming up with suggestions that opened up new perspectives for all parties involved. This resulted in a winning scheme.” (...)

(...) One of the biggest challenges during intense competition processes is to remain energetic, positive and alert. “One important characteristic of Powerhouse Company is the way they communicate: professional, but also quite informal. This invites all parties to talk freely and effectively, sharing knowledge and ideas in a very direct way. During the Eindhoven competition, we were able to progress very fast. There were no obstacles in the form of formalities or bureaucracy. Of course we clashed on several occasions, but mutual respect made sure the design always came out stronger and better.” 

Over the years, the amount of collaborations between Rabbie and Powerhouse Company has grown steadily. “Right now, I think we are working on 5 projects together”, Rabbie says. And after a moment of silence: “On a few occasions I joined the team for dinner after a meeting ran late. Eating nice take-away food at the kitchen table: it doesn’t get any more informal than that, does it?”