Interview Sven Molkenboer, construction consultant at The Lobby

"Building is a collaboration."

Sven Molkenboer works for Manhave as a construction consultant via his company MBM Advies. For 20 years he has been involved in various construction and architecture issues.

The Lobby
21 November 2022
By Lisanne Van Beurden

At the moment he plays a major role in the building process of The Lobby. In this project he is both the manager and the supervisor. Because of his role, he has a lot to say about the construction process that has been going on at the Kruiskade since February this year.

In the interview below, he talks about his career, about the design of The Lobby and the challenges that come with such a construction project.

Can you tell us about your background as a construction consultant? And how did your collaboration with Manhave Vastgoed come about?

Sven: “My first acquaintance with Manhave Vastgoed was almost twenty years ago, when I worked for a Rotterdam architectural firm. The company received the assignment for the redevelopment of the old Lumière cinema on Kruiskade. At the time I worked together with Manhave senior. Actually, I never said goodbye to Manhave after that, it was a very pleasant collaboration. It still is today with Steven Manhave at the helm.”

"After working at various architectural firms for about 15 years, I made the decision in 2007 to start as an independent consultant. Under MBM Advies, I focus primarily on managing construction projects, supervision and construction supervision. In the role of construction project manager I was involved early in the construction process, from the initiative to the realization of the project, where I can use my knowledge and expertise early in the process."

"As a manager, I supervise the contractual agreements. I am also closely involved in the implementation itself. I see knowledge of the entire process as added value for managing the process itself."

Dreamhouse, designed by KAAN Architecten.

Are there more Manhave Vastgoed projects in which you were involved?

“In addition to the Lumière cinema, I played a role at Dreamhouse and Centre for the Arts in Spijkenisse. In addition, I helped with the building on the Karel Doormanstraat for restaurant SUE."

“Furthermore, next to The Lobby, I am currently involved in the maintenance work of the City House, such as the repair work on the facade and the redevelopment of the roof pavilion."

What are your responsibilities within the project of The Lobby?

“In the current implementation phase of The Lobby, I act as the manager of Manhave Vastgoed. My core task is to monitor compliance with the contractual agreements. I pay attention to three aspects: time, money and quality. That is what I check and lead and I try to set up unambiguous communication. Both to the contractor and client. I also have supervision in my management. I schedule time to visit the construction site and check that everything is going well.”

"Prior to construction, my role was focused on managing the design process. This is a collaboration of designers and consultants, with the aim to translate the wishes and requirements of the client into a design. And before the start of the construction, you have to think about the contracting of the work, such as the final selection of the contractor."

"I strive for a pleasant work environment and clear communication in every job. Today, due to the specialization of consultants and implementation, more and more parties are involved in the process. Ensuring clear communication, mutual understanding and cooperation are important tasks that I take on."

Installation of the construction fence of The Lobby.
A festive moment when the first pile of The Lobby was driven.
Construction of The Lobby in full swing.

What do you think of The Lobby's design?

“KAAN also designed Dreamhouse. Architects often have a certain signature and you can see that signature in Dreamhouse and also in this project. Personally, I am very charmed by the minimalist architecture and choice of materials by KAAN architecten.”

"The new design carefully matches the street profile of the City House on the other side of the Kruiskade. With a raised profile and recessed facade on the ground floor. A special feature of the plan is the integrated greening on the roof and its activation as a terrace and roof garden. This is a fifth facade for the residents of the City House and contributes to a healthier living environment in the city centre."

"The minimalist architecture does bring challenges. The details are slender and fine, but at the same time the building physics properties of materials and feasibility must be taken into account. We would like to construct a building that will still look perfect in 50 years' time. This means that we sit around the table more often with the contractor and subcontractor to see how we can get details and implementation done.”

Render of the front view of The Lobby.

What is the most fun aspect of building The Lobby?

“My background is in architecture. I started studying architecture in Delft and that is how I ended up at an architecture office. As I mentioned before, I am very fond of minimalist architecture and I think the design of this project is very beautiful.”

“In addition, Manhave is a very pleasant client who aims for long-term relationships. They develop for their own management; this is why quality is of paramount importance. Manhave has a long-term vision and invests in the city centre of Rotterdam."

What does a typical day at The Lobby look like for you?

“As a manager, on average I work two days a week for a project of this size. I use those two days every two weeks for work meetings and every four weeks for construction meetings."

"For the days on location, you start the morning with a supervision round. I can often immediately share my findings with the foreman. Of course I try to align my hours on location as well as possible with meetings and planned deliveries or start new activities in the construction."

What challenges do you encounter during the construction of The Lobby?

“The construction market is overwrought and construction prices are going through the roof. This has a direct consequence for our project and that also requires constant attention. Planning and price are under constant pressure.”

“Specifically at The Lobby, a lot of time and energy was put into the design and materialization in the run-up. The municipality and the client set high standards for the appearance of the building. That is an issue that has been addressed by KAAN."

“Another challenge is the construction location and logistics. It is an inner-city location and therefore difficult to reach. On the street side, to preserve the shops on the Kruiskade, a conscious choice was made for a closed construction fence with illustrations of the work and preservation of the parking spaces."

“What I like myself is the simplicity of the architecture. This seems simple, but glass, aluminum and natural stone are the primary materials and require extra attention to detail and execution of the work. Those challenges are what make this project interesting.”

Construction fence with illustrations of the property.
Passers-by on the Kruiskade.
Materials during the construction of The Lobby.

What is your view of the green roof? What will that look like and what is your role?

“From my expertise, I have realized several green roofs, the green roof on The Lobby has high added value. You can actually see the roof as a fifth facade. The residents of the City House overlook this roof and will soon have a beautiful view. Dreamhouse has a similar roof, but the big difference is that this roof has no public function. The green roof of The Lobby will soon have a public function; there will be room for a restaurants and events.”

“My role in this is to advise what is possible and what is not. Together with the client I look at this issue. But we also have to look at the wishes of the tenant. The plan will be refined later in consultation with the tenant."

Is everything under control?

"Yes, certainly! Although it remains a dynamic process. I think that's the great thing about the construction process. At the front you try to set up a schedule as best as possible with the knowledge you have, but it is always subject to unknown issues. A certain degree of flexibility is required. Also in this case.

With The Lobby, we first work towards a shell for the completion by tenants. We complete the architecture and appearance of the building. Tenants will definitely still have something to say about the layout, which is something that we will respond to as flexibly as possible. That can also have consequences for the final planning. When the tenants are ready, the doors will open."

"Building is a collaboration. I don't do it alone. You do it together with the architect, contractor, consultants and the client. Together we always find a solution."

What is planned in terms of the construction process for The Lobby in the near future?

“We have completed the structural work. We have just started assembling the glass and facades. And preparations are currently being made for the installation of the natural stone."

“The aim is to deliver the shell of the building at the beginning of April 2023. I expect the final adjustments to take place in March, after which tenants can make final adjustments and start furnishing."

Are you looking forward to the result? Or do you find it a shame to end the project?

“The great thing is that a project has a beginning and an end. I am looking forward to the moment when I can stand on the Kruiskade, pull out my camera and take a picture of the building as we have realized it and compare it with the impressions of the architect. Delivering a project is a requirement."

"I am therefore looking forward to a new challenge with Manhave Vastgoed."

Check out more renders of The Lobby below.

The Kruiskade on the side of The Lobby.
There will also be room for restaurants in The Lobby.
Cross section of The Lobby.
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