The Bellevue head office of network provider Alliander in Arnhem has been completely modernised, renovated and made more sustainable. COARE Architectuur is responsible for the new concept. Gispen translated this concept into a matching furniture- and material plan and furnished the entire building, from the office environments and meeting areas to the various restaurants. All of the selected products and materials meet the circular requirements of Alliander. The result is a renewed Alliander Homebase for everyone.
Meeting one another and flexible working
In early March 2017, Alliander opened its completely renovated Bellevue head office, housing 1,000 employees. The old building was built in an era when employees would come to the office on a day-to-day basis, and work in the same room with one or two colleagues. This is now a thing of the past. Instead of having long hallways with offices on either side, Alliander wanted a more open work environment with flex workstations, along with many meeting areas where employees can work together. Linda Anbeek, Alliander Renovation Project Supervisor: ‘Sustainability and circularity is very important to us. This is not the first time we have worked together with Gispen. They furnished a few of our regional offices, including our positive-energy building in Duiven. The bar is now set even higher with our head office.’
A design that belongs to us all
The concept of COARE Architectuur forms the base of the new building. In the words of Jan Willem Leverstein, partner at COARE, ‘A design that belongs to us all. The input of the client and its employees was crucial to the realisation of the final design. In about four weeks’ time we spoke to 150 people, in groups of 10 to 15. We discussed both their personal ambitions and the ambitions they have as an organisation. We then took these ambitions and translated them into form.’ Important requirements: transforming the introverted building into a more extraverted one and connecting the inside with the outside. The result is a high level of transparency; you can now look through the building from one side to the other. There was also a need for a closer connection between the different areas of the office – which has been accomplished via the many stairs and voids there. The new building had to become the home base for all Alliander employees, with ample room for meetings and interaction.
Studio, Office and Library
The Atrium is where employees and visitors enter the building, a large open area that encourages people to get together. Besides the Atrium, there are three different types of work areas to be found, each with its own distinctive atmosphere. The Studio brings people together, a dynamic work environment with an abundance of light and colour, with the look of a modern, creative mansion. At the Office, employees can work individually or work together in the more standardised, flexible office area. And last but not least there is the Library, a place of serenity with a Harvard-like atmosphere. Gispen furnished all these areas and the various restaurants as well. Firstly there is ‘Praet’ near the entrance, where you briefly stop by for a healthy snack. Then secondly there is restaurant ‘Spijs’ on the second floor, where small groups of people can have a bite to eat together or relax a bit. And finally we have restaurant ‘Proef’ including a roof terrace on the fourth floor, where entire teams and large groups of people (also suitable for training courses) can get together. You can simply choose a spot that matches the purpose of your visit.
The architect’s thoughts
‘Gispen translated both our vision of form and the circular ambitions of Alliander into a matching furnishing for the renewed Bellevue. And they did an outstanding job. We wanted to deviate from the standard office layout and create a variety of inspiring work areas that each have their own distinctive atmosphere. Gispen has gone to great lengths to realise the desired look. In my experience, the people at Gispen are very much involved and are highly motivated to create something special together.’
Rob Lotstra, interior architect at Gispen: ‘Each furniture brand, type of furniture and manufacturer was measured against the circular ladder (the Design Framework) in order to determine whether they met the circular agreements that Gispen and Alliander established together. Reusability was an important requirement. At the same time, this was not to be visual as such; the building had to look brand-new.’ Gispen revitalised the old four-legged desks with new Ecoboard tabletops. The old tops now form dividing screens, upholstered in an Ecolabel cover. We transformed old filing cabinets into lockers. The reused furniture was supplemented with new and, of course, circular products such as the Triennial and Nomi chair from Gispen, as well as the Dukdalf and Sett sofa. ‘We also applied products from the MultiLounge programme. We installed modular bench elements in cubbyholes that were constructed by the interior construction contractor. This solution prevented Alliander from having to come up with a tailored seating solution.’
We also searched for a way to organise the logistics of the project in a responsible, circular way. The sheltered workshop of Presikhaaf in Arnhem, where they normally restrict themselves to assembling school furniture, is where we now assembled the workstations. Old table legs were sent from Alliander to Gispen for a technical update and a new coat of paint. The upholstered dividing screens were directly shipped from Gispen to Alliander. Components that did not require any work, such as the table top supports, were directly shipped from the storage location to Presikhaaf by the TopMovers moving company. The tabletops were directly shipped from the manufacturer to the sheltered workshop. These methods have saved us and Alliander quite a few trips back and forth.
Photography: Chris van Koeverden
The client’s thoughts
‘To me, this is the perfect example of a co-creation project, realised together with COARE and Gispen. The three of us went all the way in translating our ambitions into the various work areas and accompanying furnishings. We kept the design open to interpretation and we really challenged both parties to come up with good suggestions. The result is impressive. I have only received positive reactions. The building facilitates that what we actually wanted to achieve: working together and meeting one another more.’