The client, a Dutch developer devoted to architectural innovation, asked for an ambitious building which would set new standards for office design in multiple areas, including sustainability, technology, workplace design, structural and façade engineering . Above all, the brief was to create an inspirational business environment.
Designing a cutting edge office building that would be futureproof required PLP to anticipate new patterns of work: people in the knowledge economy have the flexibility to work from wherever they want, at any time, and with whatever degree of social interaction they want. In this context, the utilitarian approach to office design developed in the last century has become obsolete, and technological innovation has enhance the toolbox available to architects significantly. The claims towards ‘efficiency’ that have long been used by architects to justify their workplace designs are no longer relevant. For the Edge, PLP devised spaces that produce a multiplicity of moods and atmospheres within the workplace, leveraging a wide variety of technologies and intensifying social interaction through spatially specific design strategies.
To create an exceptional contemporary working environment, PLP focused on the building’s atrium as the key to its success. More than just a grand statement, the atrium became an integral part of how the building reimagined the workplace. We infused this massive space with vertical layers of activity and transformed it into an essential spatial component, the social nucleus of the building. The bright, expansive space forms an architectural response to highly specific occupier demands on the building. The Edge offers numerous different types of working, meeting, and breakout environments, and sets a new benchmark for the built environment by prioritising the comfort, health and productivity of its users.
That atrium is also the place where new working patterns meet digital systems. Rather than thinking of the technological systems in the building as autonomous and discrete layers, PLP used them to devise new types of workspace. People have the flexibility to work anywhere in the building; and with the help of a dedicated mobile app, people can find each other, look for a quiet empty desk and adjust the temperature and lights levels to their preferences. The technology is also designed to manage energy use by making users aware of how much energy they use, wherever they work in the building.
The Edge demonstrates that the pursuit of a vibrant and collaborative work environment can come together successfully with achieving the highest level of sustainability possible for a building. It is officially considered to be the world’s most sustainable office building, having been awarded the highest rating ever recorded by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the global assessor of sustainable buildings. The project achieved Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) certification for new construction of ‘Outstanding’ and a score of 98.36 % by employing both innovative smart technologies as well as a holistic attitude to sustainability. While sustainability as a purely technological narrative has been exhausted by its overuse, the Edge creates a radically new working environment which is enabled by sustainable technologies.
Fine tuning the shape and orientation of the Edge was the initial step in achieving the exceptional climatic and energy performance of the headquarters. The arrangement of large floor plates organised around a grand 15-storey north-facing atrium allows natural daylight to reach the vast majority of the office spaces, while the load-bearing structure and smaller glazed openings of the south facing facades provide thermal mass and shade. The atrium is the lung of the building, ventilating the office space while providing a buffer with the exterior in a way which reduces energy use in both summer and winter. As well as its energy-neutral temperature control, energy efficient design and green energy-generating technology, the Edge captures rainwater and stores it underground for use flushing toilets and watering plants in the interior and exterior gardens.
Architects: PLP Architecture
Location: The Zuidas, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area: 40.000 sqm
Project Year: 2015
Photographs: Ronald Tilleman, Raimond Wouda