‘Sustainable and healthy open-plan work environment for the consultants’

‘Sustainable and healthy open-plan work environment for the consultants’

Fifteenth floor WTC with a great view

A few years ago, the Dutch company Ecofys, a consultancy agency in the field of sustainability and energy, was taken over by the American company Navigant, one of the largest management consultancy firms in the world. After the takeover, Navigant was searching for a suitable building which would be representative of the Dutch consultants (80 FTE). Cushman & Wakefield was called in to help in this search but also to install a completely new and turn-key work environment. The fifteenth floor of the World Trade Center in Utrecht – right beside Utrecht Central Station, with a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings – met all the requirements. ZENBER Architects produced the interior design. Gispen joined the project after a market survey for the furniture.

A word from the project manager

‘We already knew Gispen from previous projects. These were positive experiences. After a showroom visit with people from Navigant, during which we could see, try out and have a feel of most of the furniture, it soon became clear that Navigant wanted to proceed with Gispen. Especially when they saw all the possibilities of the circular and modular sit/stand CIMO desk – keeping an eye toward the future as well.’

Anand Harnam Project Manager Department of Project & Development Services, Cushman & Wakefield

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Short lines of communication

The fifteenth floor of the WTC in Utrecht encompasses no less than 1,770 square metres. Navigant had a clear wish: the organisation did not want an office with cubicles but an open and flexible work environment. A literally transparent environment where everybody is is clearly visible to one another. No more barriers, not even between management and the teams. Carlien den Uijl of ZENBER Architects, responsible for the interior design together with Eric Wezenberg: 'We started by interviewing the consultants themselves. What are they looking for in a new work environment? They spend a lot of time making Skype calls with America. This meant that, in addition to an open-plan workspace, there was also a need for Skype rooms, with good acoustics for long telephone calls. In the open workspace, we established well-defined zones: at one end, a dynamic area is created where activities such as meetings, consultations and collaborations are central. At the other end, you will find a completely different zone which is all about working in peace, silence and concentration. The central area features a variety of rooms, such as the Skype recesses, a pantry and lockers.’

Sustainability and vitality as guiding principles

The desired look of the office was natural, quiet and sustainable in a modest way. A timeless design of warm shades of grey is alternated with green, blue and yellow shades in combination with a winding wooden core and many plants. From a hanging garden at the work café to the planters in between the workstations. The furniture matches it all perfectly. Meerten Castelijns, business manager at Gispen: 'From desks, conference tables and chairs to planters, lighting, cushions and curtains – we supplied all the separate pieces of furniture. From Gispen furniture to products from Vitra, De Vorm, Artifort and Moooi. All employees have a CIMO sit/stand desk that can be adjusted via a manual crank. The CIMO collection is perfectly in line with Navigant's vision of sustainability and vitality. Carlien from ZENBER: 'CIMO was still fairly new at the time. The designer, Peter de Boer from Gispen, personally explained the philosophy behind the product during a showroom visit. A decisive moment.’ The desks are combined with ergonomic and environmentally-friendly Herman Miller Mirra office chairs.

The architect’s thoughts

‘Gispen knew exactly what the client wanted. We designed a detailed furniture plan that was in line with the overall theme of the interior design, in terms of products, use of colour as well as materials. We then finetuned this plan together with Gispen and applied it to the different work zones. A wide variety of furniture was used, supporting the different work methods, whether employees are holding formal or informal meetings, want to work individually or focus on their task.’

Carlien den Uijl Interior architect at ZENBER Architects

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Are you satisfied with the result?

In the summer of 2018, the new work environment for Navigant was completed and ready for use. Project manager Anand: ‘Since there was only one logistic entrance to the building, in the middle of the city, our deliveries really needed some careful planning! But we pulled through by working closely together. People are very pleased with the new work environment. It's a great result that has attracted a lot of attention from various parties.’ Carlien: 'The transition from a traditional office to an open-plan workspace went smoothly. And as far as the process is concerned: careful planning, the quality of the interior, all the furniture installed on time and allocated to the right place; we can all be proud of a successful partnership.'

Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode

Products included in this project