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Office IMd Rotterdam

Recycling is a big issue in the Netherlands today. A large proportion of the building stock is vacant. So too this steel plant in Rotterdam; not an obvious location for an office, but enjoying a unique position with views over the river Maas. What made the building attractive was the vast space, dominated by an imposing steel structure. A strategy was chosen whereby all the work areas were created on two storeys in air-conditioned zones against the closed end walls. From there, they look back into the hall, in which pavilions with conference areas were created, interlinked by footbridges and different types of stairs. The hall itself has become a weakly air-conditioned cavity, which lends itself very well to informal consultations, lectures, exhibitions and lunching, for instance. Large new windows in what was originally a closed facade, in combination with the existing skylights in the roof, provide daylight and magnificent panoramas over the water. It is an unusual layout for an office building. Users are continually in contact with its spatial and social heart. That stimulates encounter and involvement. It also gives the hall an optimum spatial tension: bridges, underpasses and stairs mean that you can stray and, in this way, experience the space and the people within it from ever-changing perspectives. By not air-conditioning the whole hall, but just the pavilions, energy consumption was also reduced to a minimum. Combined with the decision to use light, recyclable materials, an existing building as basis and the positive boost for the surrounding area, that produces an extremely sustainable project. Everything that was already there, such as the steel skeleton, the concrete floors and the masonry on the facade were just cleaned. New additions were made using a limited number of materials which are new, but which are very much in keeping with the industrial atmosphere; rough wood for stairs, clear glass and sheeting of transparent plastic.

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