Paul de Ruiter Architects

Paul de Ruiter Architects is one of the most sustainable, trendsetting architecture offices in Europe. From its very start in the nineties the firm has been pioneering the realms of sustainability and ever since it has been a great advocate and practitioner of sustainable, energy saving architectural design. The office works from the principle that research and innovation are necessary to create buildings that are not only aesthetically beautiful but also sustainable, energy saving, healthy and –not to forget- a pleasurable to be in. Paul de Ruiter Architects is experienced in meeting the high standards of leading sustainability certificates such as LEED and BREEAM. The office is specialized in technically complex assignments and engaged in a myriad of projects ranging from residential projects to large developments like Unilever Global Foods & Innovation Centre in Wageningen, B’mine Tower in Amsterdam, Business School Hogeschool Rotterdam, the new Terminal from Lelystad Airport, the infrastructural project the Rotterdamse Baan and the hotel QO in Amsterdam.

The buildings of Paul de Ruiter Architects are designed to allow the façades to respond intelligently to sunlight, enabling to maximize energy gain and storage. This is what gives his architecture its unique, recognizable and innovative appeal. Paul de Ruiter Architects believes architecture should not only generate energy in technical terms, but also in terms of the human factor. Values like happiness and inspiration combined with measurable factors such as daylight optimization to make intelligent, sustainable buildings. The recently opened and award-winning hotel QO in Amsterdam is a beautiful example of this innovative, sustainable architecture put into practice.


In co-operation with Mulderblauw architecten and Arup, Paul de Ruiter Architects created one of Europe’s most sustainable hotels that closes as many loop cycles as possible. There are four key ways in which the QO has moved away from single-use and into circularity. Using natural and existing resources to the greatest possible extent. Sourcing materials and consumables that are both well produced and created locally. Using long-lasting instead of disposable items. Reusing, repurposing or recycling before even considering discarding something.

Housed in a unique and remarkable living building, the QO is a new experience for both travellers and the local community, leading the way towards the future of hospitality. Luxury merges seamlessly with sustainability to create a visionary new lifestyle destination. The QO strives to ‘treating life well’, with great respect for the environment. The QO wants to show it is possible for travellers to stay in one of the top hotels in Europe, enjoy the most innovative, luxurious appliances and technologies as well as the healthiest food, and still affirm that they care about our planet.

Every innovative aspect of the QO has been designed to significantly enhance the experience whilst reducing the hotel’s environmental impact. From intelligent windows to the rooftop greenhouse, the QO is a remarkable living building shaped by nature and driven by ingenuity. Biomimetics refers to human inventions that emulate nature. The QO takes the lead in the most advanced and important biomimetic design of all: transforming our cities and neighbourhoods into ecosystems. The QO is a living building in which loops are closed and metabolism is as circular as possible waste streams are limited to the absolute minimum and are treated as resource flows for new processes in the hotel.


Perhaps the most visible circular element in the unique 21-floor ‘living building’ is its innovative façade, which consists of 819 moving aluminium panels installed outside the windows. This ‘intelligent façade’ aligns with the desired temperature in combination with the exterior climate when guests are not in their room. The aluminium panels provide additional insulation on cooler days or allow sunlight in for heating purposes, ensuring a consistently pleasant room temperature. This revolutionary climate-control technology significantly reduces the hotel’s power consumption for heating and cooling.

This internationally unique outer wall design makes for a dynamic façade look, changing continuously in response to the guest’s wishes, the weather, the time of day, and the season.

Buried 70m below the ground is the hotel’s energy storage system which holds heated water from the summer months ready to be pumped back in to warm the hotel when the temperature drops. Meanwhile floor-to-ceiling windows and an atrium mean that 80%of the building’s lighting is provided by natural daylight, minimising the need for artificial light during the day. Together all these measures will significantly reduce the hotel’s power consumption.


The materials used in both construction and interior design have been chosen for their circularity credentials, provenance and relevance to the QO’s story and vision. The commitment to this literally runs throughout the hotel; a third of the concrete used in the construction of the QO came from Amsterdam’s iconic old Shell building. The carpets are made from 100% recycled yarn manufactured from fishing nets.


The QO greenhouse on the roof of the building is a living illustration of what circularity can mean in actual practice. By developing a fully- functioning, self-sufficient and self-regulating ecosystem, the QO has created an active approach to circularity that filters through to every floor. The greenhouse grows vegetables, fruits, herbs, edible flowers – and even fish – to supply produce that can be enjoyed from Persijn all the way up to Juniper & Kin.

Urban farming and circular greenhouses are not new concepts but their use in the hospitality industry is limited. By improving existing techniques and developing new ones, the QO proves that circularity and urban farming are not only achievable but also the way towards the future for city hotels.


For a greenhouse to be circular, it needs integrated aquaponics as part of the ecosystem. Put simply, this means growing fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial environment. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants purify the water for the fish. The fish in the QO greenhouse are omega perch. This variety was selected because it produces the right fertiliser for the plants, is perfectly suited to living in an aquaponics system, exclusively eats plant-based foods (and is therefore more sustainable than, say, non-plant eating fish like reared salmon), and also because it is a delicious fatty fish that can be prepared in many different ways. Once the fish have lived out their natural lifecycle in the tanks, they are used to prepare delicious meals to be served at Persijn and Juniper & Kin.


The QO was constructed in line with the LEED assessment and certification system. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED certification ensures independent verification of a building’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings. LEED is the triple bottom line in action, benefiting people, planet and profit.

The QO aims to achieve LEED Platinum status. To date, no more than 18 hotels* around the world have managed to be awarded Platinum status.*Figures for March 2018