ROTTERDAM – In designing new headquarters for the BP Rotterdam Refinery, Dutch architecture firm Group A faced a dual challenge: to create a workplace protected from a potential explosion in the oil refinery and to lend shape to the company’s transparent organization.

Intuition backed by experience led the architects to shield the north side of the building while providing the opposite side with a gracefully curving façade of ribbon fenestration.

A man-made hill marking the site contains 100,000-cb-m of soil transported from the Port of Rotterdam. The architects say this elevation ‘reacts to the curved shape of the adjacent A15 motorway and playfully imitates the natural dunes nearby.’

Partly nestled into the artificial mound, the office complex needed natural light; Group A cut a four-storey-high atrium from the newly modelled dune and topped the void with a meandering grid of glass panels.

The immense, undulating, concrete wall that dominates a large part of the atrium is finished with timber slats whose pattern resembles the natural stratification of rocks, clearly referencing the company’s activities.

Photos courtesy of (Vd photos)