The Dutch WAVE: Happiness at work grows in nature

WATT is always on the lookout for unusual entrepreneurs, concepts and ideas that deserve a bigger stage. This time we’re meeting with Martin Buijtels of The Dutch Wave.

Who is Martin Buijtels?

Father of 3 daughters, partner of Christine, streetcomber and concept developer.

And what does The Dutch Wave do?

We’re a multidisciplinary design agency for garden, landscaping and bio-based architecture. Also known as a concept agency for biophilic placemaking.

Your website says: ‘It all starts with a drop’. Explain!

You have to be in motion to make an impact. Just one drop can turn into a positive wave. Into the Dutch Wave.

What is biophilic design exactly?

Biophilic design is the science behind green environments and human ‘habitats’ in general. These principles make the invaluableness of nature ascertainable and tangible. Backed by science and data.

Brainport Human Campus in Helmond is one of your projects. Why do we see so many unimpressive parking spaces there?

Nature always carries your story. Happiness in the workplace is a story that, by definition, starts with creating the right natural habitat for the people who live or work there. We always say: If you cut down all the trees in the fairy tale forest, you don’t believe in fairy tales anymore. And yes, parking spaces are often a necessary evil. But even in this case you can make some nice bio-based choices, like Olivine (a rock that captures CO2).

Nature has already thought of everything and never lies. Is that where your mission comes from: ‘mother nature is damn sexy’?

Every person has the inherent need to connect with nature. This is also the reason why people always go on holiday to ‘primeval nature’. The sea, the mountains, the forest, the desert or rivers. And when they aren’t on holiday, they hold their ceremonies there. It’s in these places that we are our happiest and feel completely at one with our environment. It’s up to us to visualise that sexiness again and integrate it into our private and work environments. We can make the unequivocal and data-driven statement that people are going to be happier in those places. In these kinds of places, living and working are a logical consequence rather than a requirement. So maybe we’re not mother nature’s marketers but her fulfilers 😉  

Another great project is giving trees a second home. Explain!

We have a lot of great initiatives in our card file. Like cool suppliers of bio-based materials, social impact projects, partnerships, etc. And that includes the adopt a tree initiative. There are trees or shrubs that need to be removed from a city or project, for example, for various reasons. We give them a second life in a new place. These are often trees with a wonderful story, which we in turn can make perfect use of for environment branding. The trick is to pull out the right card for the right project and at the right time. Our card file is growing every day and is helping us fuel our projects. In an ecosystem, it’s really no more than connecting the dots. 

What’s the biggest challenge your customers face?

The linear mindset of administrators and municipalities. Though I must say that with our well-founded holistic concepts in terms of landscaping and support, they always hear us. Doors often open for us where others never even saw a door. We always design larger plans from an ecosystem perspective. That provides a lot of guidance to decision-makers and key people, because simply put, it shows the whole ‘elephant’. Our design principle has always been to act like guests in an environment and to listen to the blueprint laid down by the people who live or work there.

What would you like to share with start-up entrepreneurs?

Dare to collaborate and understand that there’s more space outside the lines than inside them.

What else is on The Dutch Wave’s bucket list?

Based on our vision and ambition, we want to develop an environment where living, working and leisure come together in a mindset of shared ownership. Ideally in the Brainport region. We have several lines of communication, but are always open to working together to accomplish this bucket list wish quickly while also making an impact. Everything is centred around the moment, and the moment is now!

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