Interconnecting people at all levels Clifford Chance has returned to a completely transformed building ‘de Droogbak’ after a thorough renovation. For the law firm, the theme 'where heritage meets innovation' was central: the history of the building is experienced as enriching, not replaceable, but only when this goes hand in hand with the supported spaciousness and comfort of a contemporary working environment. Intervention in the monument was therefore necessary. Thanks to the new interior, the Droogbak offers a surprisingly contemporary user experience that leads to chance encounters. An experience design that has its origins in stately architecture, but also offers a new perspective on this. Careful and thoughtful, with minimal impact on the monumental interior, a maximum effect has been achieved. A stimulating environment in a national monument De Droogbak has a strong chambered structure and most of the walls are monumental. By making full use of the limited room for manoeuvre, the entire user experience has been transformed and offers space to cross-practice collaboration and multidisciplinary teams. "To achieve this, you have to dare to tackle a national monument. It may collide, chafe and give a different view of everything that is there for so long. This way you will see the beauty again, you make the history your own and there is new spaciousness to discover in it", says Laura Atsma, partner at Fokkema & Partners. Pronounced color areas Pronounced color areas, the shades based on historical research, clash in the style rooms with original panelling and ornaments. Corridors are marked with historic ochre tones on the site of new passages to the atrium and the design of meters high new elements in the atrium loosely refers to the neo-renaissance interior façade. All these references have been made explicit and raise questions. Why that color, that shape? Why there? In a natural way, people can assign meaning to the building. Atrium designed for chance encounters The introverted atrium, formerly the heart of the building as a library, has turned into a catalyst for encountering new connections from and around the atrium. These are subtly fitted in but ignore the compelling building structure with its imposing corridors and stairs. People can now move more freely through the space and the organization. This offers room for new perspectives. Carefully and with minimal impact on the building, maximum effect has been achieved. Attic transformed in a loft-like open workspace The transformation of the top floor into an open floor with the original wooden rafters in sight is illustrative for the bold choices: architecture that does justice to the national monument, but also to the resident who sees her love for the heritage answers in a contemporary customer experience and comfortable working environment that supports the dynamics of the organization. Introducing new perspectives that highlight the building heritage The Droogbak was designed in 1884 in neo-Renaissance style as the headquarters for the Hollandse IJzeren Spoorweg Maatschappij, designed by architect C.B. Posthumus Meyjes. In the course of time, the building has known several users, and it has already been extensively restored twenty years ago. The aim of the current transformation was to adapt the building in a respectful way to the requirements of today's working environment: not only by modernizing climate control and acoustics, but also by enabling a new way of working, in which social interaction plays a central role. The transformation is characterized by delicate but important interventions; original elements and structure have been preserved as much as possible, while at the same time the spatial and visual connections in the building have been improved and expanded. A perfect fusion of past and present During the earlier restoration, the central courtyard was provided with a roof and transformed into a library. This space has been 'reactivated'; the bright, glass atrium has been given a new life as a dynamic, lively place for meeting, interaction and exchange, and is an essential hub in the building's routing. New stairs provide access to the higher floors and the restaurant in the basement, while bay windows and balconies reinforce the visual relationships between the floors themselves, and with the atrium. This makes this central space a place to see and be seen. "The atrium is the heart of de Droogbak and is literally and figuratively the 'starting point' of the transformation concept. It offers a new dynamic and a new way of working, with respect for historical architecture," says Irma van Oort, partner at KCAP. A constructive addition that enables social interaction A sculptural anodized aluminium spiral staircase serves as an eye-catcher within the atrium. This staircase, which leads to the second floor, is more than just a vertical connection; it enables informal meetings and connects a number of mini hubs that are located on the inner façade of the building. These mini hubs are equipped with glass skyboxes and overlook the vibrant and energetic atrium. The spiral staircase is a visual representation of the transformation of de Droogbak in Amsterdam: a constructive addition that enables social interaction.
Fokkema & Partners is an architecture firm that creates innovative, identity‐rich and future‐proof spatial designs around the end user. Since 1995, the agency has designed the working environment of more than 100,000 people, public spaces among which city halls and universities, restaurants, residences and other spaces where people interact. The projects encompass complete interior concepts, renovations, transformations and new building architecture. Fokkema & Partners’ design philosophy is grounded in creating meaningful spaces that connect context and narrative. Working from the inside out, it seeks the perfect communion of materials, interiors and surroundings.
Driven by curiosity and creativity, Fokkema & Partners developed many sustainable solutions that contribute to user health and wellbeing. The agency is recognised for its energy efficient designs, concepts to integrate new sustainable technologies and for its fully circular, zero waste interiors and transformations.
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