These Dutch office buildings are strong examples of environmentally ethical design philosophies literally at work. 

The future of the workspace has never been more uncertain. As companies rethink, redistribute and in some cases reduce their spatial resources during the current COVID-impacted circumstances, it calls into question the set of standards by which offices need to be built in coming years.

There is one benchmark, however, that was well obvious pre-virus and remains paramount: these buildings need to be built with a circular mind-set, sustainable not only for the growth of companies and employees but for the planet.

Photos: Peter Tijhuis

AMSTERDAM: BUIKSLOTERMEERPLEIN CITY DISTRICT OFFICE

Damast Architects

Damast Architects has completed a ‘super flex office and a multifunctional restaurant’ for the Municipality of Amsterdam in the capital’s north area. ‘We were inspired by the unique character of Amsterdam-Noord where “making” is central,’ says architect Daniël Peters. ‘Where people used to work in the shipyards, they are now experimenting with urban agriculture and 3D printing of houses and bridges. Those initiatives have put Amsterdam North on the map.’ The architects worked with sustainably sourced construction wood, primer, recycled PET bottles and many plants to build the workspace, aiming for the maximum possible use of biobased, recycled and recyclable materials. Red-orange detailing is a visual reference to the primer used in construction and shipbuilding.

The 1,200-m2 office, transformed as part of the new municipal housing vision for civil servants, has work and lounge areas and flexible spaces for project-based work. ‘Clear routes and sightlines provide a calm and comfortable working environment with a variety of places,’ say the architects.

DRIEBURGEN-RIESENBURG: TRIODOS BANK

Ex Interiors

Dutch financial institution Triodos Bank tapped Ex Interiors to develop the interior of its sustainable and circular office at country estate De Reehorst in Driebergen-Rijsenburg. The design team, motivated by the site’s surrounding landscapes, utilized natural materials and organic forms within the space. Pinewood with an eco-friendly Sansin coating comprising the wooden core and ceilings, linen walls built to optimize the acoustics and furnishings finished with concrete ciré are three such examples. Furthermore the timber for the wooden flooring was harvested from nearby estates, while all leather used is traceable, sourced from organic farms in the Netherlands.

‘Sustainable design is the very foundation for a successful living and working environment,’ explains a spokesperson for Ex Interiors. ‘Essential to this was to prioritize the wellbeing of people. The Life Cycle System has been used as a basis for circular design. This specially developed ‘wheel’ for Triodos Bank served as an innovative yardstick. Topics such as the economy, energy, mobility, history, water, consumption, biodiversity, materials, people, use (the new world of work) and buildings, were taken as the starting points during the design process in order to make the right choices in fulfilling [these] ambitions. A healthy air quality, natural light and a pleasant thermal and acoustic comfort formed the base of the design.’

AMSTERDAM: GOEDE DOELEN LOTERIJEN

Benthem Crouwel Architects, D/DOCK, Yolanda Loudon and MOSS

The Amsterdam Zuidas headquarters of Goede Doelen Loterijen – a multi-lottery organization – is a BREEAM-NL Outstanding score recipient and the most sustainable renovated building in the Netherlands. With insight from the organization’s team, Benthem Crouwel Architects was able to develop an office concept that might become a model for effectively porous workplaces and the sustainable reutilization of existing structures. 949 solar panels, the LED lighting and many rainwater collectors are installed around the structure. The café tables where employees have regular meetings lie under a canopy of 6,800 aluminium leaves that reflect natural light and indoor plants, as they turn into a roof outdoors that reaches out to embrace the street.

‘We wanted to prove that sustainability starts with using what you have,’ explained Esther Wubben, the renovation’s project leader at Goede Doelen Loterijen. The interiors and the main stairs are the work of D/DOCK, in collaboration with Goede Doelen Loterijen’s in-house designer Yolanda Loudon, with the greenery created by MOSS.

Read more here.

Photo: Peter Tijhuis

AMSTERDAM: CIRCL

DoepelStrijkers and Architekten Cie

Supporting the Dutch government’s goal to have a circular economy by 2050, ABN Amro’s flexible Circl pavilion in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district – situated next to the bank’s main office –employs principles of reuse and recycling. Planned by Architekten Cie, the pavilion is a two-storey rectangular building that rises from a concrete plinth. The circular tenets are evident in loadbearing larch beams screwed with the use of ‘dry’ connections – no glue or foam – allowing the timber to be reused in future projects. ‘If your design is circular, the process you follow will be completely different,’ says architect Eline Strijkers, cofounder of DoepelStrijkers, explaining her firm’s attempt to incorporate a maximum of sustainable components into Circl’s interiors.

Strijkers says that ‘design can act as an agent for social renewal and lead to strategies that contribute to the economy’. Examples are acoustic panels made from used company uniforms donated to the bank; fire hoses, ducts and reels rescued from other buildings; a hardwood floor transplanted from a former monastery; and display cases that began life at the Stedelijk Museum. On the roof, 260 solar panels supply direct current to the pavilion’s LED lights and to chargers for electronic devices, eliminating the need for energy-consuming adapters. For heating and cooling, a geothermal system installed 80 m beneath the pavilion was developed with experts from the Delft University of Technology.

Read more here.