Our company

Summum Engineering is a structural design, engineering and optimization consultancy, founded in 2017 as a sole entrepreneurship, and based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It operates in the domains of architecture, engineering and construction as well as industrial design and art. Services are provided to project developers and owners as well as architects, designers, engineers and contractors. Specialties include the parametric modelling and structural engineering of lightweight structures, natural building materials, complex geometries and sustainable buildings.

Our core beliefs

Contemporary corporate ethics can be summarized as trying to not be evil. Indeed, Summum will not commit to projects that have a demonstrably or overtly negative impact on people or the environment, and is pleased to rely on commendable services provided by others: sustainable banking, ethical smartphones, recycled business cards, and so on.

But, unlike traditional engineering practice, Summum will not limit itself to so-called corporate social responsibility. In many firms, socially responsible business practices and guidelines are applied while at the same time, for example, executing projects in the fossil fuels industries, operating in cultures where construction workers are heavily exploited, or working for governments that patently violate human rights. Summum will refuse and has in fact refused such projects and clients. Our overarching objective is to do good and be credible, by forming a moral and ethical corporation, affecting real change, and having a net positive impact on the world. Along these same lines of thought, the company intends to grow as a cooperative, for-profit social enterprise. Summum is pro-active in seeking a clientele and building a holistic portfolio in support of its vision of a moral enterprise that contributes to a sustainable built environment.

Our interests

Throughout history, mechanical limitations of construction materials and their prohibitive cost, have led master builders to rely  on structural design to develop elegant and efficient structures. As structural engineers, we too attempt to span space with as little material as possible, and this endeavor naturally leads to lightweight structural systems such as shells, tensile roofs and inflatables as well as design methods such as form finding, graphic statics, topology optimization and genetic algorithms. We enjoy immersing ourselves in such topics whenever we are able.

Recent developments in computational design and digital fabrication hold a strong fascination. There is a clear movement towards generating data within well-informed parametric models, managing that data in collaborative building information models, and giving that data physical form through direct input to computer-controlled machinery such as robotic arms and 3D printers. Perhaps new forms of cooperation will follow suit, allowing us to break the value chain and shift towards seamless processes of design, construction and operation.

While technology may offer solutions to today’s problems, looking towards natural, circular and/or biobased construction materials, some used prehistorically, some only recently developed, may yield answers as well. While computational engineering and digital fabrication on one hand, and biodegradable, sustainable materials on the other, sometimes seem opposite ends of a spectrum, we are in fact interested in opportunities to combine both worlds.

Whatever the future holds, Summum is pleased to stand witness and keen to play a modest part in these ongoing developments. Our interests extend to historical and scientific research that help us to understand how we got here, and where we might be going.

© Titia Hahne

Our team

Summum Engineering is currently a powerhouse company of four people: Diederik Veenendaal, Francesco Verzura, Rik Rozendaal and graduate student Gido Dielemans. The company is currently registered as a sole proprietorship.

Diederik has a standing invitation to other like-minded and entrepreneurial people to join him and, in the long term, form a cooperative, for-profit social enterprise. Please see our contact page for more information if you are such a person.

Francesco Verzura

After two years working as executive designer on residential projects at ABnormA architetture in Brescia, Italy, Francesco started developing an interest in sustainable design and energetic building performance. He is a certified building energetic auditor in Italy and has audited around 40 buildings.

In 2012, he became passionate about natural materials, when participating in a straw-bale building course with Barbara Jones, European pioneer in the use of this technique. He then started working with eng. Carlo Micheletti, member of ESBA – European Straw Bale Association, at Cming and Casalogica, a leading design office and construction company in the use of natural materials. He was involved in the design of more than 60 straw-bale buildings around Italy, experimenting with various techniques and solutions. He was involved in the organization of the 2017 ESBG – European Straw Bale Gathering – in Venice, where he gave the lecture “Structural design of a post and beam building”.

In 2017, he also moved to Ecuador, to volunteer as project manager at the local architectural office Caá Porá, working on the construction of a rammed earth cultural center on the Pacific coast of the country. After interruption of the project due to political reasons, he got the chance to design, calculate and build a bamboo community center in the province of Manabí. He moved on site to coordinate the construction, which directly involved the local community as well as international volunteers. During the same period, he started collaborating with prof. Paulina Viera of the UCE – Central University of Ecuador – on a straw-bale popular residential prototype for the Andean Ecuadorian region.

At Summum Engineering, Francesco is continuing his work as a building engineer, specialized in natural construction materials.

Francesco still has to come up with a funny sentence to end on, but probably it will have something to do with his awe-inspiring beard.

 dott. | Building engineering | University of Brescia | 2010
 ing. | Civil engineering | Ordine Ingegneri Brescia | 2011
 Energy auditing | Infrastrutture Lombarde | 2010
 

Diederik Veenendaal

Diederik is a structural engineer, passionate about innovative and complex structural designs, as well as parametric modeling, computational optimization and sustainability. He studied Civil Engineering at the University of Technology in Delft (TU Delft), specializing in building engineering. He was a visiting student in 2006 at the Lousiana State University (LSU) Hurricane Center after hurricane Katrina, working on floating structures and buoyant foundations for historical buildings. He completed his Master’s thesis on the topic of evolutionary optimization of fabric formed beams, with assistance from Prof. Mark West of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

He started his professional career at Witteveen+Bos engineering consultants in the Netherlands, working on various types of structures and materials. Notable projects include groundfreezing calculations and safety analysis for the downtown subway stations of the North/South subway line in Amsterdam and the structural design for the largest tensioned membrane roof in the Netherlands, ice skating arena De Scheg in Deventer.

He then joined the Block Research Group at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. While carrying out his doctoral research on flexibly formed concrete shell structures, he also served as co-editor for the book ‘Shell Structures for Architecture’ and as project coordinator for research & innovation unit NEST HiLo. He successfully defended his doctoral thesis in 2017 while starting Summum Engineering in Rotterdam.

Diederik has an Erdős number of 5 (which is a totally nerdy thing to note, and an idea he picked up from Paul Shepherd’s website): 

 dr.sc. ETH | Architecture | ETH Zurich | 2017
 EUR ING | Engineering | FEANI | 2017
 ir./MSc. | Civil Engineering | TU Delft | 2008
 BSc. | Civil Engineering | TU Delft | 2005
 

Rik Rozendaal

Rik is an architectural designer with an interest in structural engineering. He finished his studies in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in 2014.

During his graduation he shifted his attention from architectural design to design optimization and form finding supported by parametric design. This is when his love for Grasshopper began. His graduation research consisted of a parametric algorithm used for structural optimization of arch and shell structures.

After his studies he took some time to travel and get some hands-on building experience as a volunteer by designing and building a sanitary unit in Lundamatwe, Tanzania.

In 2015 he started working as a structural engineer at SWINN. He worked on apartment, office, school and healthcare buildings, mostly in steel and concrete, occasionally in timber.

At Summum Engineering he works as a computational designer, a role in which he combines his architectural design skills, his love for parametric modelling and his experience in structural engineering.

In his spare time Rik likes to train for triathlons. The boredom of long distance runs is said to help him find creative solutions to design problems. If only he carried a notebook during his runs.

 ir./MSc. | Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences | TU Delft | 2014
 BSc. | Architecture | TU Delft | 2010
 

Gido Dielemans

Gido studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology, specializing in the field of Structural Design and Engineering within the master Architecture, Building and Planning. His passion lies with innovation, optimization, and automation in structural engineering.

As part of a student project design team, he focused on fabric formworks for large span span structures. This ultimately led to the realization of a fabric formed structure at the precast factory of Geelen Beton. This object, named Organica Hyparbolica, featured at the 2016 Dutch Design Week as well as the 2017 Material Xperience. During his internship at Van Boxsel Engineering he set up a parametric calculation model for a new type of floor system, and published about it in the professional journal Cement.

He is currently working on his Master’s thesis on linear versus non-linear optimization of shell structures at Summum Engineering.

Gido loves assembling computers, and once built a computer as a gift to his grandpa.

 BSc. | Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences | TU Eindhoven | 2015
 

Alumni

Past interns:

Sjef Brands (July-August 2018, August 2019)

Past graduate students:

Simone Rutigliano (Oktober-December 2018)