Sander Architecten and  the Rabobank are stretching the boundaries of the modern office

Sander Architecten and the Rabobank are stretching the boundaries of the modern office. The new Rabobank Nederland office in Utrecht is a singular example of the role that design can play in the cultural changes that an organisation wishes to enact.

The interior design by Sander Architecten encourages creativ¬ity and stimulates cooperation. Ellen Sander designed an innovative work environment (56.000m2) that offers not only spaces for meeting and interacting with one another but also tranquillity and intimacy. She relied on the city as a metaphor to discover what works best for the employees and for mutual communica¬tion. Contributing designers had the opportunity to effectively develop their vision within the established framework.We are intuitively aware that a person’s surroundings affect their behaviour and mood, as well as their productivity.

The process that went into the new Rabobank Nederland office showed that it pays to rely on this intuition. The work spaces are tailored to specific activities: multi-person meetings, face-to-face meetings or a place to write a report with maximum con¬centration. Each activity has its own pace. If you observe a river, you experience the difference between the leisurely outside bend and the fast-moving inside bend. In nature routes are formed naturally; people intuitively find their way. I was seeking that naturalness, that ‘flow’.

The organic form of Kraaijvanger’s building played an important role in that search. The busiest routes automatically formed around the cores with the lifts and staircases, beyond which more peaceful zones naturally emerged. An examination of the values of the Rabobank revealed that this flow was already present in the cooperative character of the bank, with its physical network of branches reaching the smallest villages and sections of society.

Moreover, the psychological concept of ‘flow’, the moment when need, desire and ability come together, connects the employee’s sense of happiness with an optimum result for the employer. Our guiding principle for the interior design therefore became ‘form follows flow’.

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