New identity for a 1960s monster
Government multi-company building
The Dutch government decided to combine the personnel and salary departments of all its ministries except that of Defence into efficient new bureau called P-Direkt. This organization shares accommodation with a number of other specialist civil service units (Rijks- en Formatieadvies, Mobiliteits Organisatie, Bedrijfsmaatschappelijk Werk, Arbeid & Gezondheid, Intercoach and Buro Arbeidsmarktcommunicatie) in a multi-company building. Many government buildings have an obviously public function, but these users are an exception to the rule. The anonymous character of these bureaux lay behind the decision to convert an existing 1960s building, without attempting to express a new identity on the exterior. The austere, solid character of the building is well suited to its new purpose.
The organizations are internal service providers, and communication forms an important part of their work.
The design accords with this character-sketch by providing a clear spatial organization. It aims to cope with a variety of working patterns: an open plan call centre, cellular offices, open discussion areas, flexwork (non-traditional work schedule) sites, conference rooms and non work-related amenities.
On each working floor, the lift core is linked to a ‘wooden’ block containing all the shared facilities such as pantries, coffee corners, copying machines etc. This leaves the remainder of the floor space freely configurable. Wide, multifunctional corridor zones provide space for individual flexwork sites. The restaurant/canteen is situated on the ground floor near the entrance. Its large, round tables and lounge benches make it the primary place for interaction.
The material finish is sober but robust, consisting entirely of neutral shades of wood, white and grey. The core at the middle of each working floor is clad with small blocks of white-oil treated, endgrain sawn pinewood. The fragmented corridor sidewalls are clad with sound-absorbing panelling. The silver-grey ceiling is scarcely perceptible and optically alleviates the relatively low ceiling height of the existing building. Graphic wall paintings by the Amsterdam artist Jan van der Ploeg provide colour accents at strategic points and serve as orientation points for the users of the building.