Parallel52° started as the ‘Dutch Canadian Planning & Building Network’ in 2011. It is an initiative of Anke van Hal (Nyenrode Business University & TU Delft) and Annemarie van Doorn (Director Dutch Green Building Council & Green Business Club).

The first event was an inspiring meeting in September 2011 in Rotterdam about collaboration with Vancouver in the field of sustainable city planning. This meeting was visited and positively received by the Dutch consul general in Vancouver, Johannes Vervloed. The second event was an initiative of both the Canadian and Dutch embassies regarding sustainable building in November 2011.

The faculty of Architecture of the Delft University of technology was invited by the Dutch Ambassador in Canada to visit in Ottawa, together with the Carleton university, faculty of Architecture. One professor , who was also involved in the Rotterdam meeting, and three students came and enjoyed some very inspiring days, working together with different professionals and many students. Newspaper and television reported about the Canadian Dutch collaboration. The Dutch visitors also visited the Green Build conference and expo, held in the same week in Toronto, and there they met the enthusiastic Consul General of the Netherlands in Toronto. They were surprised by the same topics that were addressed and the different fields of knowledge in both countries. On the way back home the idea came up to continue this experience and start a network where people involved in this topic and enthusiastic about cooperation could meet. In January 2012 the Dutch ambassador and the consuls general were in the Netherlands for a meeting about the network idea with the Canadian Ambassador in the Netherlands and several people from Dutch businesses interested in cooperation with Canada. Detailed ideas to build the network came up during that meeting. A few months later a conference and expo were held in Vancouver and a comparable dialogue was organised in Vancouver to discuss the idea of a network with Canadian partners. Back in the Netherlands, Dutch businesses got the network running and it was officially launched. The first project was a collaboration between students of UBC in Vancouver and the Delft University of technology.

At the Canadian Embassy in the Netherlands the idea came up to involve interns in the network. Three recently graduated architecture interns started in April/May 2013 at the Canadian Embassy in The Hague and Consulates General of the Netherlands in Vancouver and Toronto. Currently the young professionals are working on the foundation and expansion of the network, even as organizing events and setting up connections for the members.

Anke van Hal, Nyenrode Business University and Delft University of Technology

“There’s a long tradition in the Netherlands regarding the topic of sustainable building. Ever since the 1990’s, the Dutch government puts the topic high on the political agenda. Many ambitious projects were realized. After a few years of decreased attention the popularity of the topic increased sharply. This time, entrepreneurs, housing associations and local governments are at the forefront in a now more entrepreneurial approach of sustainable building.”