Combiwerk Delft is a Social Workplace (SW) company and offers custom work to people who, due to a physical, psychological or mental limitation, are not able to find a regular job. Despite these limitations, individual possibilities and talents are especially looked at.
A lot has changed lately has and the emphasis been shifted towards re-integration to the regular work force. The job centre (career square) has become much more important with respect to workplaces. Training is offered and tests are done in the kitchen of the company restaurant, the cleaning service and the office. Assembling, sorting and packing are done at the workplaces. Green and environmental services are also an important branch of the social workplace.
The ambitious attitude of the company is striking. There is a strong and positive culture. The new construction was intended to clearly reflect this. Despite the limited resources and a clear wish for a sober approach, the building and decoration had to radiate quality. It had to convey attention and involvement, in order to stimulate a sense of pride in its users. An environment that reiterates that valuable work is being done here, by extraordinary people.
The building was designed by VMX Architects and has a total surface area of 8500 m2. For the interior, which includes 4000m2 of office spaces, a company restaurant, the career square, entrance ways and a lobby, i29 interior architects were consulted. The central space is a large atrium where the restaurant, the career square and the reception are situated. The building itself is a completely closed, grey monolithic shape. The same grey can also be found in the walls, floors and ceilings of the interior. When you come in, you are surprised by colourful islands, which are placed freely in the space and which only show themselves after you enter the premises. In an almost fairytale-like way, the building contains a secret garden full of colour and vitality, which is, of course, a wonderful reference to the contrast between external appearances and inner richness.
People are often pigeon-holed or end up that way unintentionally. Such a ‘box' is only a part of the story and often there are many nuances. This was the foundation for the design theme to us. Everyone at Combiwerk is unique and special, nuanced and varied. We have translated this theme into the interior in an abstract way. The custom-designed furniture contains many ‘boxes' where every user (so to speak) can tell his own story. In various colour nuances and variation possibilities, together with the carpets, they form colourful islands in an otherwise grey world.
A social workplace must be social; that was the starting point for all the parties involved. Social involvement was therefore the main theme in the design and realisation on various levels. At the level of the design, we aimed for empowerment by creating a serious and distinguished interior. Not a nondescript backwater building, but something sparkling, colourful and unique. We hope that this will contribute to a sense of pride in the users.
In terms of sustainability, where possible, we aimed for recycling and re-use. All the wooden chairs in the atrium were bought second-hand and restored, just like all the furniture for the 4000m2 office space, including desks, chairs, cabinets and filing drawers. A new colourful top layer was applied to the re-used furniture so that they are as good as new and also fit well in the colour spectrum in combination with the carpets.