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 the sole proprietorship of dr.sc.ir. Diederik Veenendaal. The company includes occasional interns, graduate students, as well as part-time, flexible 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 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.

Check out his professional and scientific publications.

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

Babje Rothe

Babje is studying for her Master’s in Architectural Engineering at HafenCity University (HCU) in Hamburg, Germany, and is due to graduate this year. After her apprenticeship as a carpenter, she started studying Civil Engineering in 2014 at HCU.  She is fascinated by structural design and the sophistication of efficient, interdisciplinary and innovative results. Her interests focus on lightweight and shell structures. She is captivated by the successful symbiosis of architecture and engineering.

Through her internship, Babje wishes to expand her skills in structural engineering and parametric modelling. She started as an intern working on projects, and is now doing her graduate thesis work at Summum.

In 2017, she burned Bill Baker‘s index finger with a flaming sambuca.

BSc. | Civil Engineering | HafenCity University | 2017
Carpentry | Tischlerei Nipa | 2014

Yunus Kaplan

Yunus is doing his Master’s in Civil Engineering at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. During his Bachelor studies, he gained practical experience as a working student at the Institute for Structural Concrete and at the general contractor Nesseler Grünzig. Furthermore, he was able to broaden his knowledge by spending a semester abroad at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Yunus is very interested in the developments of the construction industry, especially those that focus on digitalization, innovation and process optimization. Accordingly, within his Bachelor thesis he did experimental investigations on the shear capacity of precast joints in segmental bridge construction.

During the internship, Yunus intends to further improve his skills in parametric modelling and structural engineering. Moreover, he is looking forward participating in exciting projects.

Yunus co-founded a non-profit organisation, Students for Amani, which focuses on children and youth rights.

BSc. | Civil Engineering | RWTH Aachen University | 2018

James Whiteley

James recently completed his Masters in the dual honours Structural Engineering and Architecture course at The University of Sheffield with a departmental prize for outstanding performance. He is particularly interested in computational methods, scripting and optimisation. His Master’s thesis explored the design to BS EN 1992 of optimised waffle-slab like reinforced concrete floor systems designed with layout optimisation. He also spent two summers working on related research projects in the Computational Mechanics and Design Group in Sheffield. At the same time, he undertook placements with the UK infrastructure consultant Amey and leading London design firm AKT II.

He is now excited to join Summum as an intern to work on projects involving digital and generative design, optimisation algorithms and parametric modelling and analysis.

In his spare time, he has taken up a yoga class in the city.

MEng | Structural Engineering and Architecture | The University of Sheffield | 2020

Niels Hofstee

Niels works at Summum on a flexible basis to contribute on a variety of available projects.

He is passionate about parametric and computational design, sustainability, and is eager to learn more about special structures and natural building materials through his work at Summum. He graduated as building engineer at the TU Delft in 2018, studying data driven design with a focus on increasing the sustainability of our built environment. After graduation he worked at White Lioness Technologies to help build the next generation of parametric design tools. In 2019 he decided to travel and work on volunteer projects for refugees on the island Lesbos.

He is currently working part-time as a parametric modeller and structural engineer at AIP Partners in Rotterdam.

Niels shares his personal stories on his blog Loaf of Life.

MSc. | Civil Engineering | TU Delft | 2018
BSc. | Civil Engineering | TU Delft | 2015


Past employees:
Rik Rozendaal (June-August 2019, temporary until December 2020)
Francesco Verzura (February-September 2019, temporary until December 2020)

Past interns:
Leticija Petrova (July-August 2020)
Debora Dei Rocini (January-May 2020)
Babje Rothe (December 2019-February 2020)
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)