WOONWERK ARCHITECTEN – design practice for architecture and complex urban development

Woonwerk is a design practice for complex projects in the existing city with an approach based on research and design. By formulating challenging concepts, we explore the tension between dream and reality through architectural and urban design. Woonwerk works on projects for living in all its aspects. We work on comfortable homes and sustainable buildings, on an attractive neighborhood and a healthy living environment. We work on strategic projects that contribute to a caring society where the resident or user is at the centre of the attention. Our approach is always based on the local context, both in terms of spatial aspects and in terms of socio-cultural and economic conditions. Through innovative design research at different scales, we look for possibilities in places where at first sight there are only limitations. We work together with residents of the neighborhoods where generic concepts and standard typologies are never directly applied, they change depending on the specific context. This approach results in an intensive design process in which communication and interaction between client, users and design team are essential for the success of the project.


Johan De Wachter, architect and founding partner – Rotterdam

Johan de Wachter is an architect and founding partner at Woonwerk Architecten. He came to Rotterdam after his studies at the Catholic University of Louvain (KUL) and worked from 2000 to 2004 at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA/Rem Koolhaas) on various urban planning and architecture projects and competitions. In 2003 he founded Fün Design Consultancy and was a partner until 2005. In 2005 he founded Johan De Wachter Architecten and in 2011 he started 2DVW Architecten in Antwerp together with Rik De Vooght. In 2023, the agencies are given a new name. With the establishment of Woonwerk Architecten, the collaboration is given further shape. With Woonwerk, Johan works on projects at home and abroad.

Johan regularly teaches and has been, among others, a guest lecturer at Delft University of Technology, the Academy of Architecture in Rotterdam and the Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg. He was appointed associate professor of urban design at Kaunas University of Technology in 2015. Here he leads the design studios with a specific focus on the integral transformation of former soviet residential areas (microrayons). Johan De Wachter was selected in 2014 for the “Europe 40 Under 40 Award”. This award recognized Johan as one of the 40 leading young design talents from Europe.

In addition to his work as an architect and teacher, Johan regularly sits on various committees and juries in the Netherlands and abroad. He is currently a member of the spatial quality committee in Breda (NL) and of the environmental committee in Tilburg (NL).


Rik De Vooght, architect and founding partner – Antwerp

Rik studied at the Caholic University of Leuven from where he graduated as an engineering architect. He starts his career with an internship at Jo Crepain Architect N.V. and works as a project executive, and later as a projectmanager, for various projects at home and abroad.Together with Allard Schwencke, Rik founded Open Architecten bvba, where he was project and responsible manager of various projects in Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal.In 2011 Allard Schwencke he founded his own architectural office: Atelier ASA. Rik then changed the name from Open Architecten bvba to Rik de Vooght Architecten bvba. In the mean time he also opened 2DVW Architecten bvba, together with Johan de Wachter (JDWA). 2DVW Architecten is an office for architecture and design specialising in large-scaled projects at home and abroad.The project “Pharmacy De Vooght” is nominated for the Belgium Building Awards, the National Steel Building Prize and is the Winner of the Architecture Night in 2007. In 2010, the urban development plan “balteau site in Liège will be awarded a shared first place of The international design contest Europan 10.


Evelien van Veen, architect and partner – Rotterdam

Evelien van Veen is a partner at Woonwerk Architecten. She was previously the owner and director of van Veen Architecten bv. (9 years) and Drost + van Veen Architecten bv. (25 years). Her main focus is residential construction, particularly for the elderly target group, ranging from vital city seniors with customized care needs and the heavy target group with a need for 24-hour care (including somatics and dementia). To this end, Evelien has broad experience in healthcare and works closely together in a permanent network of partners, particularly in the Netherlands, but also in China, England and Belgium. After more than 30 years of experience, she has received many publications for the design of the Library Den Helder, realized in collaboration with Mars interior Architects and won the prize for the best library in the world. In addition to the design activities, Evelien is a chairperson of spatial quality committees, a jury member of competitions and selections, she gives lectures and is a recent board member of the Bureau Architects Register. Evelien Van Veen designs buildings with a strong identity. Buildings that surprise and intrigue through a layered meaning and that communicate with the environment and users on more than one level. The architecture tells a clear story, in conjunction with the urban context and the DNA of the location as a starting point and source of inspiration.


Patricia Mata Mayrand, senior architect – Rotterdam  

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 Woonwerk Architecten.


Maria Cànoves Garcia, senior architect – Antwerp

She always liked arts and crafts but was also interested in the physical aspect of things. Therefore, she decided to study architecture, which was a good combination of both her interests. Although she studied in Valencia, her professional experience was mainly in Belgium. In 2010 she started working in Antwerp as an intern for Open Architecten through the Leonardo Da Vinci European program. There she met Rik De Vooght and together they started Rik De Vooght Architecten. Maria has not only been an architect for RDVA but also an office manager, making what the office of Antwerp is nowadays. In her free time she is busy with her son, with ceramics and with plants.


Sofia Vacas, architect – Antwerp

Sofia was born in the region of the paella in Spain, Valencia. Musician since she was 6 years old, she decided instead to study architecture. That brought her to RDVA as an intern with a Leonardo da Vinci program. She stayed later as a worker in RDVA and while trying to learn the language of the country as a hobby found a spanish-speaking belgian husband. This was for her the perfect reason to stay and start her family in Belgium. In the office you can ask her about parking regulations or details of a stair, but you will find her more comfortable behind a sketch-up model while being busy with design and thinking how space can be used and better organized for the people to live in.


Michaël Smith, architect – Antwerp

Michael Smith is an architect, trained in Scotland. In 1999 he moved to Belgium and has since worked as a freelance designer for Stephane Beel in Gent, Xaveer De Geyter in Brussels and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam and New York. Besides his work in architecture, he has also collaborated as a designer with Prada, Christian Dior, Maison Martin Margiela, Office KGDVS, Celine, Raf Simons and Pieter Mulier and the fashion museum of Antwerp on a variety of installations, fashion shows, exhibitions, events and publications.


Katarína Karásková, architect –  Rotterdam 

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.


Rutger Boydens, architect – Antwerp

Rutger graduated from the Luca School of Arts in Brussels in 2013. After his studies, he moved to Antwerp to do internships at various architectural offices including ABN architecten and Markant Architecten. Since 2015, he has been working for 2DVW architects. Not only the architecture attracts him, but also the international and family office atmosphere. After several years of working on various projects from A to Z, the strong interest in execution and detailing emerges more strongly. In consultation with Rik and Johan, it is decided to deploy him for all projects in the construction phase. On a daily basis, he tries to manage the execution of the various projects. Furthermore, he supports the preparation of tender dossiers through the knowledge gained on site.


Bart Van Elteren, architect – Antwerp

Bart derived from Essen. In 2016 he started his studies in architecture at the University of Antwerp. During his study trajectory, he often focused on designing ensembles to create a better living environment for the resident as well as for the passenger. His master thesis focused on the urban (re)development of Linkeroever. This topic was researched and designed on a metropolitan scale, but also paid much attention to the care of the individual aspects. He completed his studies in 2021 and immediately started working as an freelance architect for 2DVW architects.


Krystyna Warsinska, architect – Antwerp

Krystyna Warsinska spent her first 18 years in a small Polish village in the Kashubia region. In 2011 she started her studies of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Technical University Gdansk. During her studies she was active in an architectural student organization with projects such as organizing architectural competitions and student workshops. In 2015 she spent a semester at The Czech Technical University in Prague through the Erasmus program. There she met her future husband, which brought her to Belgium. In 2016 she started an Erasmus internship at RDVA and since then the lunch break never had any silences again. During the seven months internship she decided to stay both in the country and the office. She currently lives in Lier with her husband and 2 children, where she found her garden with many vegetables and plants.


Shamila Gostelow, architect –  Rotterdam 

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 Woonwerk Architecten, keeping contextual and human-centered design always at the forefront.


Gongbu Han, architect –  Rotterdam 

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 Woonwerk Architecten.


Anastasiya Klimentieva, architect –  Rotterdam 

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.


Benas Vencevičius, architect – Rotterdam

Benas was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, a city with a harmonious diversity of styles, where his interest in architecture grew and where he still finds relief by just wandering around. Here he received his bachelor’s degree at Vilnius Tech, during studies participated in a study exchange in San Sebastian/Donostia at the University of the Basque Country, later did internships at Portuguese architectural offices in Porto, Faro and worked in several offices in his home country. During his time abroad not only his hedonic motives seeking a beachy lifestyle were satisfied but also gave him time to explore architectural boundaries within local traditions, expanding its potential and exploring modes of architectural representation. Later on, he settled in the Netherlands where once again he got acquainted with a completely different architectural mindset and in 2022 he received a master’s degree in architecture from TU Delft. Currently working at Woonwerk Architecten Benas complements projects with his vast experience and simply tries to find something joyful to work on within each project which he believes unfolds in the final result.


Sophie Soenen, intern – Rotterdam

Sophie is coming from the South of Belgium, near the smallest city in the world. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Brussels and her master’s degree in Delft before completing her studies with a second masters focussed on Interior Architecture and Adaptive Reuse in Hasselt. During her final thesis, she worked on the transformation and reuse of an abandoned cooling tower located in Charleroi (Belgium) into a vertical farm. This project focussed on bringing new life to an unused space and revitalizing a declining industrial region. The built environment is for her a source of inspiration. She considers that using and reusing the existing represents the future of architecture. She came back to The Netherlands, ready to use its architectural landscape as a playground to explore.


Sam Dupont, administrative assistant – Antwerp

Sam is an administrative assistant at Woonwerk Architects. With a background in applied informatics and a lifelong connection to Antwerp, Sam feels right at home in the vibrant city where the office is located. His role as an administrative assistant at Woonwerk Architects contributes to a smooth operation, allowing the talented architects to focus undisturbed on creating beautiful and innovative designs. Sam looks forward to contributing to the success of Woonwerk Architects and supporting the team in realizing inspiring architectural projects. Together with his colleagues, he is enthusiastically dedicated to helping Woonwerk Architects grow and contribute to the architectural beauty of Antwerp and beyond.


Yannick Goldschtein , intern – Antwerp

Yannick, a passionate individual with a love for architecture, discovered his passion for the field back in fourth year of high school. His creative mind is constantly fueled by inspiration from the world of design and construction. Additionally, he harbors an interest in photographing architecture. Today, he is an enthusiastic student in applied architecture.


Agata Naparty, intern – Antwerp

Agata was born and raised in a small tourist village in Kashubia, Poland. She spent her entire childhood painting and drawing, learning and trying different things, which led her to architecture. She completed her master’s degree at the Faculty of Architecture at the Gdańsk University of Technology. In her final year, she met her boyfriend from Belgium, thanks to whom she decided, among other things, to conquer Antwerp and work at Woonwerk Architecten for her Erasmus internship.


Former collaborators:  Jan Pospisilik (2023), Leine Medniece (2019-2023), Pim Pelt (2022-2023), Charlotte Meijerink (2022-2023), Floor van de Lustgraaf (2022- 2023), Juliette de Meijer (2022-2023), Marieke van Hensbergen (2006-2022), Maciek Konik (2021-22), Joris van Arkel (2018-2022), 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)