NAVIGANT UTRECHT


In late 2016, US firm Navigant acquired the Dutch company Ecofys in order to jointly benefit from the global energy transformation. Navigant is a business service provider specialising in consultancy in the field of energy and sustainability. The takeover gives Navigant a foothold in continental Europe. This prompted the decision to opt for a central location in the brand-new, sustainably-constructed (WELL and BREEAM Excellent certified) World Trade Centre, alongside Utrecht Central Station. In this architectural eye-catcher, Navigant has set up business on the 15th floor, with a magnificent panoramic view across Utrecht and the surrounding area. ZENBER Architecten was approached to create a working environment that blends with the architecture and reflects the organisation’s mentality and vision of sustainability.

Ambition

The ambition was to realise a representative and invigorating working environment designed to maximise collaboration and interaction. Although this involves an American takeover, there is also a need to accommodate the local (Dutch) way of working. This is partly expressed through the efficient use of the square metres available, the introduction of flexible working (no fixed workspaces) and the multifunctional use of various rooms. Efforts have been made to achieve a balanced blend of open working areas alternated with space for private meetings and concentration/skype rooms as well as opportunities for more informal consultations. The layout is also deliberately flexible in order to enable potential growth in the future.
To guarantee the wonderfully panoramic view, maximum efforts have been made to achieve transparency and openness, at the same time ensuring everyone is visible to everyone else.
As a service provider in the field of sustainability, there was a strong preference for this aspect of sustainability to be expressed in the materials used (as far as possible in accordance with BREEAM standards), but to do so modestly.

“Cooperation between employees central.”

Bustling work café vs. calm working zone

The WTC footprint has a central core devoted to facility services, with an open working area around it and a dynamic, sloping façade line. The view outwards has been maximised on all sides. ZENBER Architecten opted for clearly-defined zoning within a dynamic area, where meetings, consultations and collaboration take centre stage. This zone points towards the vibrant station area and Jaarbeursplein. At the other side of the floor, there is a zone devoted to peace and quiet, calm and focus.

Sloping core with flared wooden canopy

In order to match the architecture, the decision was made to expand around the central facility core by introducing support areas, such as archives, copy centre, storage, galley kitchens, lockers and skype alcoves. In the design, these expanded areas reflect the dynamic lines of the façade and are further accentuated by the flared canopy.
On arrival, visitors and staff receive a warm reception in an open and bustling work café, featuring a large bar serving quality coffee, a range of seating beneath hanging indoor gardens and work lounges. The work café is surrounded by a variety of meeting, conference and project rooms, each with its own distinctive character. The outer corners of the work café have an unusual layout, featuring a large stage for stand-up meetings, with a great view of commuters flowing in and out of the station. There is also a semi-open, oval brainstorming area. The sloping wooden core with canopy leads you further into the working area. In it, open flexible workstations alternate with cabinets and plant frames. This area also features several small meeting rooms with adjacent skype/concentration spaces featuring acoustic felt panelling for international calls. In the areas where the glass façade reaches the floor, work lounges have been placed, making it possible to work together with a view over the city. This whole area offers a varied range of different types of workspace.

Sustainable materials and products (BREEAM Excellent and WELL)

The choice of materials features a friendly, timeless base of warm grey shades on the floors (C2C silver carpeting). The glass walls of the separate rooms match the architecture but are distinguished by horizontal lining, creating a graphic play of lines. The expanded central core has been emphasised by means of solid oak vertical beams (FSC-certified and finished with natural oil), leading to a sloping canopy. These beams vary in terms of dimensions and thickness and alternate with lighting panels, creating a playful and dynamic rhythm. This powerful use of wood finishing gives the interior a warm and natural feel. The floor features a range of areas of carpeting (econyl yarn) in blue-green and ochre-yellow shades, the colour of which merges into the tactile textured wallpaper in the meeting rooms and inlaid woollen felting in the skype rooms.

Natural and ecological materials and finishings

For the bespoke furnishings, a unique ecological material was chosen: Richlite, in black. This material consists of layers of recycled paper, which results in extremely strong panels. The material has a vibrant matt look and feel and its colour will intensify over the course of time. The steel used in combination with the Richlite for the hanging gardens and plant frames has been finished with natural beeswax, emphasising the raw blue character of the steel.
The separate furniture and additional lighting have been closely coordinated with the interior colours. Here too, furniture with a sustainable background has been chosen, such as desks from a circular range, C2C ergonomic desk chairs and meeting chairs made from PET felt.

Hanging gardens for a green and healthy working environment

Planting played an important role in the design process from the outset in order to ensure a positive work experience and to purify the air. A wide variety of plants feature across the office environment, ranging from circular hanging gardens that create space in the work café, integrated planters at the coffee bar, through to plant frames that divide up the working area.

All of this results in a carefully-coordinated timeless and invigorating interior featuring maximum use of sustainable materials (BREEAM Excellent and WELL), designed to boost the health and well-being of users.

FACTS EN FIGURES

Client: Navigant Consultancy America
Location:  Utrecht
GFA: 2.000 m²
Completion: 2018

Project team ZENBER: Eric Wezenberg, Carlien den Uijl, Helma Teernstra, Ingrid Heijne
Building architect: MVSA Architecten
Building consultancy: Cushman & Wakefield
Installation consultant: Vintis installatieadviseurs B.V.

Contractor interior: Kubus Onderhoud & Montagediensten B.V.
Interior finisher: Van Assem Interieurbouw B.V.
Lighting plan: ZENBER Architecten
Graphic design: ZENBER Architecten
Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode