Thomas Rau studied fine arts and dance at the Alanus University of Arts in Bonn and architecture at RWTH Aachen University. He has been working as an architect in Amsterdam since 1990 where he established RAU in 1992.
Social and environmental commitment are at the heart of Thomas Rau’s approach to architecture. Driven by a self-perception based on mutual respect, Thomas Rau closely involves his clients in the design of their project. Equally, respect for nature, the built environment and the cultural context are important factors considered in the planning of his projects.
Thomas Rau regards ‘state of the art’ to be merely the starting point for his projects. Consequently, he initiated the development of the world’s first energy-generating revolving door, which RAU has developed in co-operation with Boon Edam. The head office of the Dutch branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is CO2-neutral and (almost entirely) self-sustaining. The body warmth of the people who work in the building is captured and re-used for heating, birds can breed in nesting boxes in the façade and bats can use the basement as an extension of their natural habitat.
The practice goes one step further with its latest project, Le Carré de Soie in Lyon. This mixed-use office complex is not only CO2-neutral and self-sustaining, but does produce more energy than it needs for its own operation. The surplus of energy is fed into the public grid. Similarly, Christiaan Huygens College in Eindhoven will be the first CO2-neutral and energy-producing school in the Netherlands, with estimated annual savings in energy costs of approximately € 130.000.
Thomas Rau is ranked among the Top 100 Dutch key players in sustainability, a list published by national newspaper Trouw and broadcasting corporation LLiNK. He is placed at number one in the ‘Green Building’ category of the Dutch ‘Green.200’ ranking by Green.2 magazine.