Dating from the 1990s, the interior of our offices at Amersfoort in the Netherlands had become crowded and inflexible. The challenge for the team was to completely change the look and feel of the office space to reflect and support the diversity of activities that take place there and encourage new working practices among some 500 staff. To do so, a pilot concept was created and tested, before being rolled out across all five floors of the building.

Space organised using city concept of streets and boulevards

“The new way of working had already been introduced in our Amsterdam office and proved very successful so that is the vision we wanted to continue with this building.” explains Freek Leber, Royal HaskoningDHV Architect. “However, it is a unique building and required different solutions.”

Designed by David Zuiderhoek in the 1970s, the building is a superb example of structuralist architecture and had been among the first open plan offices in the Netherlands. The glass-covered office appears to hover within the surrounding woodland and internally is similarly dramatic with large open floorspaces surrounding a lush atrium. We had recently renovated the building with a new glass facade raising its energy label from G to A.

To organise and improve the interior, a city with streets and boulevards was envisaged. The flooring colour distinguishes between walking routes and workplaces. The atrium equates to a boulevard where people can meander and chat, prompting the ad hoc encounters and discussions that inspire creativity and innovation. The office perimeter has been opened up with walking routes and informal meeting spaces so everyone can enjoy the interaction between the building and its natural surroundings. Indoor plants reinforce this interaction and respond to a desire from staff for the building to feature lots of internal greenery.

Investment to maximise impact

It was important that investments provided maximum impact. For example, the flooring not only played a role in waymarking but was chosen to reflect as much light as possible. This ensured that even central areas of the building, furthest from the windows, remain bright and appealing. A visible reminder of our commitment to enhancing society together is provided by the repurposing and reuse of desks and cupboards, the use of natural materials and demountable call booths.

“The re-fit reinforces our corporate ambitions on sustainability, co-creation and innovation. At the same time, it brings out the structural aspects of the building, returning it to the spirit of the architect’s original structuralist concept so people can appreciate the building as a whole.” adds Freek. “We respected the structure and set it free.”

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