Shapely commercial volume by GROUP A is home to BP Refinery in Rotterdam
End of May, the BP Rotterdam Refinery [BP RR] organisation moved into its unique new home designed by architecture studio GROUP A. As youngest and largest oil refinery in The Netherlands, BP RR exposes a powerful dynamism which is reflected in the new offices, situated safely in close proximity to the oil refinery. It was the aim of GROUP A to design a building that expresses and accommodates the objectives of the company, including providing a sustainable, safe and healthy working environment for the dedicated staff.
The site along the d’Arcyweg-area is located in the transition zone between the harsh industrial landscape of refineries and the lush green and wetlands of the Brielsemeer directly across the Hartel Canal. The key position this location holds - situated in the prominent curve of the A15 motorway - offers potentially exceptional development opportunities. The underlying landscape vision for the wider area envisages for the location the construction of a high dune body along the curve of the highway. The landscape intervention provides, together with the need to create a safe workplace against possible explosion of the oil refinery, highly unconventional but interesting conditions for the new office building.
A design is to highlight and further strengthen the particular circumstances of the site, in the design development of both the exterior and the interior of the building. Because of the possible danger of explosion the building is on the north site nestled into the landscaped dune, while on the south side the building emerges from the dune, thereby optimising views out and the entry of natural light. As a result the building has three characteristic sides: 1) the dune on the north side where building and landscape merge, 2) the south side where the building with its distinct volumes becomes clearly visible from the Suurhoff Bridge, 3) the elegantly curved facade on the square side where in an accessible and logical manner the entrance of the building is positioned.
Also in the interior the dune is visible in a dynamic way and forms part of the work environment. An elongated and organising atrium space is cut out from the man made dune, full of light and with constantly changing dimensions by the undulating cutting edge to the dune side. The wall on the cutting edge is covered with timber slats that differ in color and size, and evoke an association with geological layers; a reference to the business activities of BP RR. The extensive use of natural materials like wood, concrete and natural stone, again emphasise the ‘nature’ and robustness of the core business activities of the company.
The atrium is flanked by two parallel office wings. Office floors, each linked by bridges, are in open connection with each other and the atrium space. Meetings take place in box-shaped volumes, pushed into the atrium as ‘sky-boxes’. The entire BP RR organisation operates in one open space according to ‘The New World of Work’ principles, resulting in an interactive environment that encourages communication, collaboration and creativity amongst staff. All visible and tangible qualities of the building fit in seamlessly with the core values of BP Rotterdam Refinery: the pursuit of an attractive workplace where both young and senior professionals can meet. The final result is a working environment whereby landscape, building and interior fully blend and literally flow into one another.