Sustainable building: more than a good cause
Sustainable, personal and innovative: how Benthem Crouwel Architects created the perfect office space.
Dutch architecture firm Benthem Crouwel Architects is known for its design approach that combines efficiency and pragmatism with innovation, curiosity and sparkle. One of our latest projects is a great example of these qualities. For the new office building of the Goede Doelen Loterijen, the biggest group of charity lotteries in the Netherlands, we worked in close collaboration with the client and the employees to create a building that fits this organization like a glove and embodies its core values. It will be the most sustainable renovated building in the Netherlands.
A challenging brief
The brief for this assignment was to design a new office that would feel like a home to the 600 employees of the Goede Doelen Loterijen, who for years had been scattered among different offices and locations, and to make this office as sustainable as possible. The Goede Doelen Loterijen is an organization that was founded with a distinct social purpose, and they strive to incorporate sustainable lifestyle and environmental awareness into every aspect of their operations. It was clear from the very beginning of the design process that people - their wishes, their comfort and their future - would be the driving force for this project.
We believe that when you make the well-being of future users an absolute priority, this almost automatically leads to a highly sustainable building.
Mapping the client’s wishes
Saartje van der Made, partner at Benthem Crouwel Architects and one of the leading architects for this project:
“We believe that when you make the well-being of future users an absolute priority, this almost automatically leads to a highly sustainable building. But only an intensive dialogue with the clients and users can give you a clear idea of what ‘well-being’ means to them - it’s the architect’s job to listen to the client’s question, and help them define their wishes even further.”
By working closely together with the future users of the Goede Doelen Loterijen office Benthem Crouwel Architects found the answer to the challenging brief.
A striking roof
Site visits, workshops and creative sessions made it clear that one of the client’s main wishes was to bring the luscious green from the park at their old location, to the new office.
Saartje van der Made: “Combined with their sustainability ambitions, this inspired us to cover the existing structure with a new roof, a roof that shelters the organization and its employees and brings them all together.”
Light filters through folded aluminum panels, and roof gardens and terraces with lots of greenery create a space that embodies nature and trees in the middle of the grey Zuidas business district. With this roof, that is both literally and figuratively ‘green’, the office becomes the most sustainable renovated building in the Netherlands.
A building can really define and influence the way people behave.
A sustainability certificate
A rating system like BREEAM* is a useful tool when designing a building with high sustainability ambitions. It ensures that all parties and stakeholders adhere to the same guidelines.
Saartje van der Made: “Receiving a rating like BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ brings obvious benefits like the financial and moral aspects, and the reputation of your brand and your company. However, as an architect and a partner at our firm I think about a bigger picture. A building can really define and influence the way people behave – for instance, simply the way the entrances for cars, bikes and pedestrians are located, and how private or public the space is, will change people's habits.”
The innovative building sends a message every day: think about the world around you, and consider alternatives to your standard behavior.
In the case of the Goede Doelen Loterijen office, the intensive dialogue with clients and users, together with the thorough process of BREEAM certification has given the client a building that not only meets, but even exceeds their expectations: a highly effective, comfortable and inspirational workspace in a completely energy neutral building.
*BREEAM is a method to assess, rate and certify the sustainability of buildings. Its categories evaluate energy and water use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes. Certificates range from ‘Pass’ to ‘Outstanding’. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Green Building operates BREEAM.nl