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

Diederik Veenendaal

Summum Engineering is the sole proprietorship of dr.sc.ir. Diederik Veenendaal. The company includes occasional interns, graduate students, and part-time employees.

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.

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
 

Collaborators

Summum maintains flexible contracts with previous employees, and likes to collaborate and involve them in projects related to their respective expertise.

Francesco Verzura

Francesco Verzura works at Summum for projects involving natural building materials such as straw-bales and timber.

Francesco is building engineer and building energy auditor. He stated working on residential projects at ABnormA architetture in Brescia, Italy. From 2012 onward, he worked at Cming and Casalogica on more than sixty straw-bale buildings around Italy, and co-organized the 2017 European Straw Bale Gathering. In 2017, he moved to Ecuador, working on a rammed earth cultural center and a bamboo community center.

He is currently employed as a structural engineer at CAE in Delft, Netherlands.

 dott. | Building engineering | University of Brescia | 2010
 ing. | Civil engineering | Ordine Ingegneri Brescia | 2011
 

Rik Rozendaal

Summum works with Rik Rozendaal for projects involving conventional construction materials.

Rik is an architectural designer with an interest in structural engineering, and graduated from TU Delft in 2015, working on design optimization and form finding supported by parametric design. 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.

He is currently employed as a designer at Synopel in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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

Alumni

Past employees:
Rik Rozendaal (June-August 2019)
Francesco Verzura (February-September 2019)

Past interns:

Sukumar Vedhachalam (December 2019)
Gido Dielemans (November-December 2019)
Sjef Brands (July-August 2018, August 2019)

Past graduate students:
Gido Dielemans (Februari 2018-September 2019)
Simone Rutigliano (October-December 2018)