‘Central and circular open-plan work environment for members of staff’

‘Central and circular open-plan work environment for members of staff’

Wilhelmina Children's Hospital (staff workspaces)

The Wilhelmina Children's Hospital (WKZ) in Utrecht has switched from traditional offices within its various departments to a central area where all office functions come together. Staff members are now working in a new, open-plan work environment where it is much easier for them to keep each other updated. Gispen completely renewed the furnishing of the two floors, based on the values of WKZ in terms of ergonomics, safety, hygiene and, last but not least, circularity. Gispen is a partner of UMC Utrecht  – which is the umbrella organisation of WKZ – and its in-house supplier of circular furniture.


Up until May 2018, the staff of WKZ occupied small offices in the various nursing departments and outpatient clinics, spread across the hospital. Tessa Bekink, interior architect at UMC Utrecht: 'We wanted to clear away as many office functions as possible and create a new, open-plan environment for the staff. A central office space, as it were, but with areas where people can withdraw if needed and where employees can converse or make phone calls, in addition to an agile work method.' Tessa designed a new layout for the two floors: the ground floor and first floor. Gispen helped with designing the layout, in terms of functionality, appearance and sustainability. From workstations to conference rooms and from pantry to living room.

The client’s thoughts

‘I work with Gispen on a regular basis, including this project. I establish a line of communication between Gispen and the users of our building, so naturally we have regular contact. I always enjoy working with my contact person at Gispen. The new work environment for the staff department has turned out great: it has lots of light, good acoustics, proper climate control and an aesthetically pleasing furnishing. Another plus: if you want to alternate between a seated and standing position, you can use one of the sit/stand workstations.’

Tessa Bekink Interior architect UMC Utrecht

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Interior design

The first step for WKZ was to establish what kind and how many workspaces they needed. This resulted in different types of conference rooms and, in addition to open workstations, silent work areas and telephone booths. Tessa: 'I tried to bring in as much daylight into the interior as possible. All the conference rooms are located on the ground floor, while the first floor houses all the workstations. The silent work area has been deliberately placed in the centre. This is where employees can concentrate on their tasks; the area also serves as a corridor to divide the different zones within the open space.’

Circular furniture

Gispen supplied all the separate pieces of furniture. Tessa: 'Part of it comes from the standard Gispen collection, such as the desks, office chairs and cabinets. We also ordered furniture that was made to measure, specifically for WKZ. However, we first made an inventory of what we already had and what could be reused, because circularity is very important to us.’ Claire Knippenburg, account manager at Gispen: 'We have ensured that these items look and feel as new again. We reupholstered existing conference chairs, for example, and fitted new panels to medium-height cabinets. We also supplied various Gispen Remade products.' The new furniture meets all the sustainability requirements. This includes the circular and modular CIMO.desk collection.

The employee’s thoughts

‘WKZ wanted its new office furnishing to be as circular as possible, which is why we made a well-considered selection of furniture. The selection includes Gispen Remade products, such as lockers that were made out of cabinets that were returned by other clients. Or the train benches and poufs that Gispen made out of old tabletops, made to measure for WKZ. The circular partnership between Gispen and UMC Utrecht allows us to make these kinds of special and sustainable solutions a reality.'

Claire Knippenburg Gispen account manager

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Are you satisfied with the result?

Tessa: ‘Quite a few staff members have already started working in the new office environment. People who used to share an office with two to four colleagues now work in a large open space. This means that they needed to let certain things go – having your own aquarium on your desk, for example – and this is always a challenge. Nonetheless, the new workstations really encourage you to get to work.’ While laughing: ‘We usually get feedback when things aren’t going too well. I haven’t heard much, so that must be a good thing!’


Photography: Chris van Koeverden

Products featured in this project