About Circular Project TIAS School for Business and Society
TIAS is ready for the future. In April 2017, the business school opened a new, sustainable branch with great growth potential and facilities. An old building at the Kroonstraat in Utrecht was redeveloped into a modern place of education. A joint effort between the owner of the building, TIAS, Cushman & Wakefield and Gispen.
Business-like and international look
TIAS is one of the most prominent business schools in the Netherlands. Besides business administration students who are getting their Master’s degree, the institution trains professionals that wish to follow an executive Master’s programme or MBA alongside their work. Moreover, TIAS offers short business programmes which always include a combination of management, leadership and strategy. Menno Maas, Deputy Professor of Real Estate Development and TIAS project manager for the redevelopment of the building: ‘This says something about what type of school it is and how it presents itself. We are both business- and internationally-oriented and have many English-speaking students. People sometimes find themselves held up in a ‘pressure cooker’ for days here. We want them to feel at home; the building was required to encourage people to meet and work together.’
The foundation: characteristic concrete structure
TIAS bid farewell to an imposing building at the Kromme Nieuwegracht in Utrecht, which no longer had growth potential. The new building is situated right at the centre of Utrecht and originally housed a bank and later the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. It was a well-considered decision for TIAS to move into this building; on the one hand because of the high ceilings, which were needed for the lecture halls, on the other because of the character of the building; in particular the striking, robust concrete structure. Menno Maas: ‘The concrete structure was covered, but we wanted to reveal it again. From the large columns to the square-design ceilings. Combined with a high-quality furnishing, this provides both a classic and leisurely look.’
Luxury and comfort, without going overboard
Architect Christiaan Coepijn of Cushman & Wakefield drew the basic design. ‘The very first lines that I put down on paper are now visible in the floor pattern. The rest of the building is designed around this feature. The concrete structure was my starting point. In everything that I did, I tried to make a connection between what we added and what already existed in the building.’
Claartje ten Have from Gispen based her selection of products and materials on this concept. A luxury business look and products that offer comfort were key requirements for the interior. Jeroen Verweij, Gispen Business Manager of Education was closely involved in the project: ‘The building is primarily aimed at education. However, what we have created is in fact a combination of a school and a professional office environment. Take the chairs of the lecture hall, for instance: they are all comfortable Zinn office chairs. Or the breakout rooms, which support project-based working but can also be used for meetings.’
The architect’s thoughts
‘We published a tender in which we requested interior designers to bring forward a furnishing proposal. It was not so much the price, but the ideas for design, products and materials that were important to us. Gispen stood out from the rest. We spent a lot of time together in the months prior to delivery. It is just great when you can come together and work out and improve upon your own ideas. On top of that, it was a substantial project. The versatility that TIAS required of the furniture also posed a great challenge. Together we have produced a great result.’
Flexible furniture setups for flexible learning
The lecture halls and the breakout rooms are situated at the façade-side of the new TIAS building. Menno Maas: ‘The lecture halls are no exception when it comes to the possibility of changing our setup quickly and easily. This demanded a lot from the furniture.’ State-of-the-art audio and video allows students and lecturers to work interactively. In between the lecture rooms there are more open spaces to be found, which still have daylight due to the many windows. Pantries and rollable blocks have been added so that the space can be transformed into a lunch area. There are high tables but also many seating solutions to choose from. On the first floor, there are flexible workstations for the staff.
Jeroen Verweij from Gispen: ‘The great thing about this project is that we were able to use the experience of a supplier to create the design. This has culminated in a fantastic and realistic final result.’ Among other products, Gispen supplied 300 Zinn office chairs, various tables from the UT-, TM- and Dukdalf programme and close to 150 Nomi chairs. Verweij: ‘In this project, we could utilise the versatile Nomi programme exactly as it was intended. You start with the basic shape, a single plastic polymer seat, to which you can apply various types of frames, armrests (or not) and removable covers to create the exact look you are searching for. From a lunch area to a conference room, from a more tempered to a very luxurious look.’
The client’s thoughts
‘We are a School for Business and Society and we want to emanate both. Together with Gispen we worked on the interior design, which we based on the original design of the architect. Gispen has successfully translated our requirements into the result. We did not want that traditional school atmosphere and we could fall back on Gispen’s experience in office furnishing. Sustainability was also important to us, as well as having furniture that can be used flexibly – both in use of colour and application. Our students and lecturers are very excited about the new environment.’