The impressive power of simple design
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS © OSSIP VAN DUIVENBODE
Since most of us spend more time in the office than the living room, its design definitely deserves some attention. Architect bureau Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik have created a tailor-made office for one of their clients where simplicity is key, resulting in a surprisingly qualitative building. By using different levels, smart design and a fully-grown tree, they made a timeless, comfortable and qualitative working hub.
Nowadays, an office is more than just a collection of desks in a clinical, white building. More and more companies opt for a homey work environment in which conference rooms and working stations go hand in hand with sofas or even a terrace. In that philosophy, the barbecue distributor Big Green Egg Europe contracted the architects Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik to design their new office in the Netherlands. “Our team saw the light of day in 2014 when Paul de Vroom Architecten and Sputnik Architects merged,” co-founder Henk Bultstra summarises. “We create buildings that are timeless, comfortable and function perfectly. We share a preference for typological thinking, refined architectural details and clear designs. While striving towards simple quality, we don’t get caught up in modern, temporary hypes. We don’t do exclamation mark architecture.”
Colours, shadows and seasons
For the headquarters of Big Green Egg, Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik was in charge from A to Z. “That wasn’t the plan from the start,” co-founder Bert Karel Deuten explains. “Our client had seen some of our previous work. They were very enthusiastic about it and decided to ask us to design their own building. Along the way, they granted us more and more responsibilities, until we were in charge of everything: the architecture, the interior design and even the design of some furniture. This allowed us to create unity throughout the entire project.”
From the start, it was a given that the building had to fit the needs of their client like a glove. Besides it being a pleasant and inspiring work environment for the employees, it also had to serve as an attractive spot to welcome potential clients for a demonstration of their products. “That was a difficult task,” Bultstra points out. “The location is in the middle of a business park, surrounded by the soulless, grey buildings you might expect in a place like that. Not exactly an inspiring location to invite your clients to for a barbecue. We solved this problem by turning the building inside out and pointing most windows towards a quiet patio in the centre. The courtyard creates a nice view for the people inside and the building itself shields the people on the patio from the sad neighbourhood. It works both ways.” Central on the square stands an impressive, fully-grown tree that had to be lifted over the building into the patio with a crane. It brings a view, shadows, colours and seasons to this small, shielded biotope.
Flooded with light
Inside the building, the different stories and half floor levels create a feeling of spaciousness and intimacy. “However, it isn’t as complex as it might look,” Bultstra nuances. “The ground floor contains collective areas to work and eat. On the second floor, you find the offices. Only the hall and the patio are built on half floor levels. This way, both the first and second floor feel connected with the courtyard and its tree. The patio-windows are also vital to catch daylight. Unlike what you might expect while seeing the closed façade, the building is flooded with natural light, entering from its core.
Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik even designed tailor-made pieces of furniture. The triangle tables in the open workspace downstairs combine the cosiness of a round table with the easy mergeability of a square one. This way, the hall is suitable for small talks as well as big meetings. In the conference rooms, pull-out furniture in the walls does the trick. By pulling out the right pieces, you transform the room into the perfect spot for a telephone conference, a stand-up talk or a decent sit-down.