Working at VanWonen as a Project Developer

“I’m involved in every step of the development of a new residential area: from the very first idea to the completion. That’s why I enjoy my work as a Project Developer every day,” says Rob Dijkman. In his role as the linchpin, he works on projects in the Arnhem and Nijmegen region, as well as in Groningen and Hengelo.

“For a successful development, collaborating is essential: I therefore work closely with the municipality, the contractor, the architect, and various advisors. And of course with my own colleagues, in a compact VanWonen project team that is made up of a Development Manager, Sales Manager, Customer Manager and Project Developer. In every project, we try to involve the customer in the development process as early as possible in order to jointly create a project that meets the customer’s needs and preferences. I feel proud that I can contribute to making the Netherlands an even more beautiful place to live in, and to building something that will be there for at least the next 200 years. Everyone can see and experience the result of the development process, which brings a sense of responsibility to our work. I am also proud of the growth of VanWonen.”

What makes you proud of the growth?

“I joined VanWonen about 4.5 years ago. In a very short time, we have grown from 12 people to a team of almost 70 colleagues. The company is growing and so are our name and reputation, throughout the Netherlands. This results in even more exciting projects with interesting challenges in all parts of the country.
I’m especially proud of my work when the quality is recognised by the general public. One such project is Soetegaerde Woenderskamp in Nijmegen, which has been nominated for the public award of the 2021 Architecture Prize.”

What challenges do you encounter in your role?

“Whether it is Covid-19, the nitrogen crisis, or the recent rise in construction costs, there are always some challenges to be dealt with. The real estate sector is in a constant state of flux. It is a dynamic playing field with constantly changing requirements on the part of the government and/or collaboration partners. We also set ambitions for ourselves. An example is the VanWonen sustainability manifesto, in which we set higher sustainability ambitions for our projects every year. And we want to realize those ambitions not in just one, but in all our projects. In other words: we always go for the most sustainable result. I really enjoy this challenge. It’s another great aspect of my work. As an example, all homes that we have developed in the Kwartiermaker project in Arnhem are zero-energy and nature-inclusive. This is something we didn’t do to such an extent until a few years ago. And we now plant sedum plants on all of the flat roofs of extensions, sheds and garages. We also install various types of nesting boxes in the façades, and apply greenery to the façades of some of the end-of-terrace houses."

You have mentioned that you like new challenges, what are things you would still like to achieve?

“My work provides me with plenty of good challenges, especially since not one day is the same. At the moment, I’m working on the Lange Wemen area development in the inner city of Hengelo. An inner-city project like this often means more complexity compared to developing in expansion areas. I look forward to gaining more experience working on such complex projects. VanWonen gives me the opportunities for that, as well as responsibility, so that I can continue to develop myself.”

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