Bill Gates makes his mark on Microsoft HQ

Nick Myall
Friday 18 Dec 2015

Henning Larsen Architects use Bill Gates' workplace theory as a guide for the design of Danish Microsoft headquarters

Microsoft employees have a new metal-clad headquarters in Denmark, designed by Henning Larsen Architects which has been based on a paper written by the company's founder Bill Gates.

The 18,000 sq m facility called ‘Microsoft Domicile’ is located in the city of Lyngby and was designed by the Copenhagen firm to bring together two previously separate units of the organisation under the same roof.

The building comprises two conjoined blocks intended as a reference to this unity and clad in angular metal profiles. The two blocks, six and seven storeys respectively, are united by a large atrium that hosts meeting spaces and a lobby – part of Microsoft's vision of an "open and inviting environment" for its employees.

"The planning of the building stems from Microsoft's work methodology, based cooperative processes as described in a 2005 white paper by Bill Gates entitled The New World of Work," said Henning Larsen Architects, which also designed the grass-covered Moesgaard Museum near Aarhus.

The domicile forms part of a greater urban development, which in time will include residences, shops, cafés and other businesses. In many ways the building supports Microsoft’s wish to become an integral part of a city. 

The collocation of the organizations is clearly visible in the architectural design. Two cubic buildings, of six and seven floors respectively, unite in a shared atrium that offers space for social and professional interactions across fields of interest. The atrium holds the shape of the letter V with its arms stretching diagonally up through the building. 

The untypical atrium distributes the daylight at the core of the building and ensures a visual dialogue across the floors. The V shape adds to a varied and dynamic experience of the atrium. The top floors are more intimate compared to lower ones thanks to the decreasing of mutual distances.  

Public programs and communal areas such as a café, an auditorium, and pop-up study places offered to the students of the Technical University of Denmark, are located on the lower floors. Throughout the entire process, Microsoft has wished for an open and inviting environment. This is also translated in the layout of the landscape and the almost invisible transition between in- and outdoors.

Using Bill Gates’ white paper for guidance Henning Larsen Architects’ space planners have been focusing on creating environments supporting cooperation internally, as well as with clients and partners. This is emphasized through a series of activity-based workspaces of various sizes, from smaller to midsized conference rooms and large auditoriums.

Social “hubs” comprising a kitchenette, lounge furniture, Xbox and table soccer games are centrally located on every floor. Here the employees meet. Thus, the “hub” strengthens the interaction and knowledge sharing across departments. All workplaces are located along the facades of the building in order to ensure optimal daylight conditions throughout the day for every employee. 

The building design offers a large degree of flexibility, which makes it suitable for different purposes in future.

Nick Myall

News Editor

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