‘A modern and open gathering place for both colleagues and external staff’

‘A modern and open gathering place for both colleagues and external staff’

Circular project Cosun innovation center

The brand-new Cosun innovation center is furnished to support one goal: further developing Royal Cosun’s innovative abilities. The Cosun innovation center provides over one hundred R&D professionals with workstations within an agile work environment. In addition, the center offers a place of hospitality to colleagues from various subsidiary companies and external staff members. In contrast to the previous work environment, where employees had their own offices, people can now meet up and collaborate in open-office spaces and state-of-the-art laboratories. Gispen took care of the interior design, including lighting and cable management, and did so in close collaboration with interior architect Veronique Topper.

More interaction and knowledge sharing

Royal Cosun is an agro-industrial corporation that produces ingredients for the food, non-food and chemistry sectors. Cosun is an umbrella company for many organisations, including Aviko and Suiker Unie. Cosun required a modern environment where their own employees, external scientists, students, suppliers and clients can interact with one another, while holding meetings – for example – or working on innovations together. Sylvia Paauwe, Promotions & Hospitality Manager at the Cosun innovation center: “Our R&D and New Business departments used to operate from Roosendaal, in an outdated building with separate offices. We wanted to stimulate interaction: making it easy to confer, brainstorm or share knowledge with a colleague or expert. In a building that facilitates The New Way of Working.”

The client’s thoughts

The client’s thoughts “Gispen has cleverly involved our employees in the transformation process of their new work environment. They were given the opportunity to test desks and chairs and share their opinions on the furniture’s design. It’s a given fact that we have agricultural roots and we were looking for sturdy and good-looking furniture, but not too extravagant in style or budget. Gispen took our wishes into account and the final result is very satisfactory indeed.”

Sylvia Paauwe Promotions & Hospitality Manager at the Cosun innovation center

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Two major requirements

The new building, which is located in the centre of the rural area of Dinteloord, was designed by Ector Hoogstad Architects. Veronique Topper from ‘Topper interieur ontwerp & projecten’ came up with the interior design. A work group, consisting of employees from the R&D and New Business departments, was closely involved right from the early stages of the project. Veronique: “We started the project by organising a creativity workshop, where we shared ideas on work methods and activities that would take place in the new building. We also deliberated on the design and identity of the new environment. There were two major requirements in that respect: provide a sleek and modern building with a warm atmosphere and an interior that supports The New Way of Working. In addition, the environment had to offer peace and quiet, room for concentration, good acoustics and hygiene – even though we will be working in an open-plan office environment.”

Matching perfectly with the surroundings

Gispen was the outright winner of the tender procedure and – with that – was given the task to translate the interior design plan into a furnishing. The new innovation center, with a space of no less than 6,800 m2, offers spacious open-plan offices with agile workstations as well as concentration booths, public tables, twelve conference rooms, a brainstorming room, various laboratories, a fully equipped room for sensory analysis and an internal pilot plant. Each zone has its own colour scheme: the theme colour of the lobby is red which represents hospitality, the areas where people meet up – such as the pantries near the office floor – are yellow which provides a relaxing atmosphere, the workstations are characterised by greens and blues, representing concentration and collaboration. We steered clear from intense colours, instead we applied saturated shades that match perfectly with the surrounding area.

The architect’s thoughts

“Moving from an outdated building to a sleek and brand-new complex. From separate offices to an open office environment. This was quite a large transition for the employees. Very rewarding when you hear how surprised people are by the tranquillity of the new office space, and how enthusiastic they are about all the different seats and various areas where you can interact with one another. Involving the employees in the design process contributed greatly to this success. Working with Gispen was, as always, a pleasant experience. Gispen is flexible, will always share its expertise and understands what an interior design is all about.”

Veronique Topper Topper interieur ontwerp & projecten

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Sustainability is important to Cosun. The company wanted to make the right decisions; the building is a good representation of Cosun’s philosophy, with all its concrete, glass and other sustainable materials. It also shows in the furniture. A match made in heaven, seeing that sustainability is also one of Gispen’s guiding principles. Cosun was looking for honest products, such as real wood and other bio-based materials, instead of artificial equivalents with similar looks. Every single product has been designed and selected to be as circular as possible. Take the dividing screens in between the workstations, for example, which are made from circular materials such as PET felt and steel. In the open office environment we installed Gispen TM sit/stand workstations, consisting of modular-, interchangeable- and easy-to-alter components. We also included various products from our Dukdalf collection: conference tables, desks for agile working and side tables. The waiting areas are furnished with comfortable Vitra Polder sofas. The conference rooms are provided with easily stackable four-legged Zinn chairs. In addition, Gispen supplied various conference tables, custom in both dimensions and materials.

What do you think of the result?

Sylvia Paauwe: “We have definitely achieved our goal! The large pantries in the centre of the open office environment and the hospitality areas are popular for people to meet up. They are also used by employees who want to grab a quick snack, which is not allowed on the office floor because we have a very strict clean desk policy. At the company restaurant we have small round tables which encourage people to sit together. And we don’t call it the hospitality room for no reason; the area is available all day long and can also be used for holding an informal conversation or to get some work done. The business groups often book one of the conference rooms for holding a meeting. We have had many visitors and excursions in the past year.”

“The agile working method has had a positive outcome. If you need to concentrate for a while, you can simply find a workstation that supports this activity; the smaller conference rooms are also a popular choice for doing so. The furniture, on the other hand, is used more intensively and adjusted more often, but it was designed to withstand heavy use. And whenever we do need a Gispen mechanic, they are very service-oriented. In short: a partnership you can only wish for.”

Fotografie: Wieneke Hofland
Design: Topper interieurontwerp & projecten

Wieneke Hofland

Products included in this project