Interior design for ‘De Rotterdam’

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GROUP A, Studio Makkink & Bey and Roukens + Van Gils share the credit for the interior design of the new municipal offices in De Rotterdam, designed by OMA on the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam. The Municipality of Rotterdam commissioned the interior and began moving into the new offices in phases from August 2014 to the end of the year. The offices occupy 33 floors in the middle of the three towers.

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Vertical city
The design features an interior that reflects a ‘vertical city’, which connects ‘urban junctions’ for collective use, meeting spaces and interaction. As part of the integrated design, GROUP A and Studio Makkink & Bey were able to formulate their vision in an urban planning concept. The reception hall on the 22nd floor and the restaurant on the 21st floor form the ‘city centre’ of the vertical city. The generic parts of the work environment, such as normal work spaces, meeting areas and concentration rooms, form the ‘neighbourhoods’. The more specific functions of the work environment, such as the conference rooms and lounge areas, meeting areas for specific purposes, quiet zones and service facilities, form the ‘city squares’ and ‘parks’. The design offices each applied their own design efforts to elaborate the various sections of the space. The two design approaches create a layered effect and give the design a dynamic feel.

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City centre

The ‘city centre’ – the welcome area for the municipal offices – is located in the middle of the building, where the two stacked volumes are shifted in relation to one another. Moving the reception area from the ground floor to the middle of the building creates connections to the city deep into the structure. The city centre is composed of the double-height 22nd floor and the 21st floor, where visitors can transfer from the low-rise lifts to the high-rise lifts. The 22nd floor has a public function for municipal employees and visitors. The larger of the two multi-functional spaces was designed to resemble a ‘living room’, where you receive guests with a cup of coffee from the Italian Coffee Bar. Here, people can organise informal meetings, give small workshops, or have breakfast, lunch or coffee during the afternoon. The smaller space next to the ‘living room’ functions as an information centre for Rotterdam. A stairway leads to the library, with its collection of books about Rotterdam. The only structural change to the building was an inviting open stairway from the reception area on the 22nd floor to the restaurant on the 21st floor. The restaurant has various zones, each with its own atmosphere based on the view and the function of the space. For example, next to the catering service area, which is open from 12:00-14:00, there is a cafeteria zone with a long meandering table where employees can enjoy their lunch with a view of the Maas and the Erasmus Bridge. Where the floor faces the hotel façade, a zone has been laid out with compartments and lounge seating that can be used for informal meetings before and after lunch. Large dining and conference tables, separated by transparent curtains, were designed to be used all day instead of only during the two-hour lunchtime.

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Neighbourhoods, squares and parks

The low-rise and high-rise floors form the ‘neighbourhoods’ of the vertical city, and were laid out to facilitate the ‘New Ways of Work 010’ concept. Each floor has a large central ‘living room’, with a reading/conference table and a pantry/coffee corner; the ideal meeting place for each ‘neighbourhood’. Facilities, such as lockers and a coat room, are located on each floor near the living room, which makes them easy to find. Each floor is also furnished with a variety of work spaces, informal and formal meeting rooms and quiet zones. Every other floor has been given a special theme: either ‘square’ or ‘park’, in accordance with the vertical city concept. The square and park floors have larger conference rooms and quiet informal meeting spaces. The service functions are clustered and form specific ‘squares’. This gives the building superintendent, mail room, security, occupational physician, breast feeding rooms and treatment facilities for the physiotherapists a central location in the building, specially designed for their unique needs and preferences.

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Lift lobbies

In the architectural design by OMA, the lift cores have been separated to give the central zone a more transparent feel. This gives the 33 floors a combined floor space of more than 3,500 sqm devoted to the lift lobbies. The design offices have suggested using this extra space for meeting areas, instead of making them simply a waiting room. The meeting areas are immediately manifest when you leave the lift, with their furnishings of standing tables and seating furniture. The zone facilitates the ‘new ways of work’ concept and each floor features facilities such as a ‘living room table’, various lounge areas and meeting spaces. From the lift lobbies, the ‘park’ and ‘square’ floors are recognisable by their colourful furniture and flooring. A ‘street naming committee’ and poet Rien Vroegindewij have collaborated to give each special floor a name based on the title of a poem or a segment from a poem. The full poems about Rotterdam are on display in the lift lobbies, giving an extra layer to the sense of travelling vertically through the city. A ‘Metro Map’ in the lift lobbies shows on which floors the parks and squares can be found.

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Rotterdam upholstery chairs
An important aspect of the design was to give the municipal offices a truly ‘Rotterdam’ feeling. This requirement has been visualised in the re-use of existing furnishings. All of the desk chairs and some of the meeting chairs have been re-used. As part of the project, 5% of the budget had to be spent on Social Return On Investment (SROI). This budget was used to develop a special Rotterdam upholstery fabric in cooperation with Kvadrat to use to re-upholster all of the chairs. The social workshop de Haeghe Groep was commissioned to provide the upholstery work. The fabric has an 18-meter long pattern of Rotterdam’s street names, and was designed by the artist Andre Castro. Since each chair is covered with a different piece of the fabric, no two chairs are alike. It took almost a full year to re-upholster all 2,000 chairs. All of the desks in the new office were also re-used from the old office. In order to create unity of style in the work environment, all of the desks have been fitted with two white side panels, which are connected by a large acoustic screen. This gave the old desks a new frame.

Project data

Projectname Interior Design ‘De Rotterdam’

Adress Wilhelminakade Rotterdam, NL

Client Municipality Rotterdam

Management Brink Groep

Design

GROUP A Team: Folkert van Hagen, Birgitta Rottmann, Raymond Leentvaar, Yi Tang, Brigitte van der Tuin, Pia Fischer

Studio Makkink & Bey Team: Jurgen Bey, Michou Nanon de Bruijn, Pim Bangert, Li Canida Lumthaweepaisal, Bruno Vermeersch, Jaap Bosma, Rianne Makkink, Anja van Zoomeren

Roukens + Van Gils Rolf van Gils

Main Contractor BAM Utiliteitsbouw bv

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