What does the sustainable workplace of the 21st century look like? Does it have a prescribed look and feel? Not necessarily. The new Eneco headquarters in Rotterdam proves that sustainable workplace interiors can be modern and beautiful, and that the use of color—sparingly and strategically—can be striking in simplicity.
Eneco, a Dutch energy company, is one of the largest producers and suppliers of energy in the Netherlands. Its new 14-story headquarters in the Prins Alexander district of Rotterdam opened in early 2012 as a model of sustainability, reflecting the company’s ethos for environmental stewardship.
The building is designed by Dam & Partners, with interiors designed by Hofman Dujardin Architects and workplace consultation by Fokkema & Partners. Michiel Hofman, a partner in Amsterdam-based Hofman Dujardin Architects, says that having his firm brought on board by Eneco before the building was constructed made a significant difference in the success of the design. “It was a very good collaboration with Dam & Partners,” he says. “The building design and the interior design were well integrated.”
Fokkema & Partners—collaborating with Hofman Dujardin—focused on workplace consultation, materials, and furnishings. The result is a cohesively designed office that enabled Eneco to advance its message of sustainability.
A focal point for employees and visitors
Taking cues from hospitality, the entry sequence is designed to welcome visitors with receptionists at three Corian desks. From there, visitors can wait at a long table (pictured opposite) or proceed to the dramatic white central atrium (pictured on the cover) with an espresso bar of white oak floors and tables. In the otherwise white light-filled atrium, the oak espresso bar stands out as an inviting focal point for social gathering among colleagues and visitors.
Surrounding this atrium are meeting areas both formal and informal, lounges, and a service desk. And here one gets a glimpse of what makes this office unique: Most all employees, working on a laptop or other device, can sit and work wherever they want, without many assigned desks. Some will work at long tables, or in a comfy chair, or at an open desk. The new headquarters brings 2,100 employees from six locations into one building. Eneco conducted a study of its employee work habits and discovered that, with a flex factor of 0.7, the company only needed 1,500 employee seats as some work from home or are traveling. The new building’s relaxed atmosphere has an impact on the way colleagues work—and the interior design positively impacts the work culture.
“The change in the work environment is apparent in different areas. The way people work together in this building is not the same as before due to the flexible working spaces. It has become easier for colleagues to meet each other in informal and formal settings,” Hofman says. “For all of these changes, all of the employees received training and brainstorming sessions to understand the new working methods.”
Islands of color
With the white interior as a backdrop, the working or meeting areas, known as “islands,” are distinguished by vibrant accent colors that match carpet to carefully selected furnishings. On the ground floor, the islands are a red or orange color, matching Eneco’s official colors, with some purple. And the islands are blue (working spaces) or green (meeting rooms) on the first floor, with variations in color on upper floors. The distinct islands, each with their own identities, provide easy orientation in contract to the white terrazzo floors. The terrazzo, in turn, allows for maximum daylight reflection and is a sustainable flooring solution due to its local sourcing and durability under heavy use.
The designers carefully considered many other sustainable aspects, including design to maximize daylight and reduce lighting wth a lighting plan by Studio Rublek that has about 90 percent LEDs and emphasizes lighting the islands. “Eneco wanted a carbon-neutral head office with low energy usage and many sustainable solutions,” says Saskia Streekstra, spokesperson for Eneco.
The forward-thinking interior was designed with furnishings that are not run-of-the-mill for an office, such as Moooi sofas, Arper barstools and ottomans, and Vitra TipTon chairs. Coupled with the flexibility to work wherever one would like, this office interior is a nod to employees that the company cares. “The interior is sparkling and gives employees a positive vibe and the understanding that they work together for an innovative and sustainable company,” Hofman says. “For Eneco, the well-being of employees is number one. Every employee feels welcome and energetic in this office.”
Key Design Highlights
- Office monotony is alleviated with employees free to sit and work where they please with very few assigned desks.
- The interior balances openness with a need for privacy, and gathering places contrast with spots to work alone.
- Islands for informal meeting or work spaces are highlighted with vibrant, coordinated color in flooring and furnishings.
- Overall, the building and interior is carbon-neutral. Furnishings were selected for both sustainable materials, but also durability.
- Strategically placed LED lights in the lighting plan reduce energy consumption.
Architect Dam & Partners
Designer Hofman Dujardin Architects in collaboration with Fokkema & Partners
Where Rotterdam, The Netherlands
What 269,000 total square feet on 14 floors
Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request