Interpolis Building by Abe Bonnema in Tilburg, The Netherlands
Typology Case Study
This ground-breaking insurance company is well-known for its workplace innovation, following the introduction of the first Interpolis Office Concept, a team-spaced, wire-free design in 1996. Seven years after the original scheme, a third phase was completed adjacent to it, under the strategy of ‘Clear Working’. This new project moved the ideas forward once more, creating a workspace that embodies the ideals of an Academy for knowledge workers.
Interpolis is based on the same site as the first scheme, the Tivoli site, adjacent to the original 1996 building designed by Abe Bonnema. Its exceptional interior challenges many of the conventions of office life, with its artist-inspired spaces that break the traditional mould and provide places for people in a truly 21st-century workplace. One of the guiding principles behind Clear Working was the realisation that, with advances in technology, the layout of buildings no longer had to mirror the organisational structure of the company. Instead, the project team decided to create a series of spaces that reflected the words ‘inter’ and ‘polis’ in a network of cities, squares and neighbourhoods.
Tivoli Plaza has thus become the heart of the Interpolis office − a collection of building environments with neighbourhood squares, streets and paths, shortcuts and different types of working space. These include a new vertical space that leads to interesting circulation and random meanders between floors. Within this metropolis, individuals have become the focal point rather than buildings or hierarchies. Continuing this approach, the large floor plates were compartmentalised by introducing a patchwork of facilities giving a more human feel.
Avenues, streets and paths lead to a range of workspaces, some of them unpredictable. The clubhouses, for example, were each designed by a different architect and provide tranquil, warm, cosy and inspirational spaces. Interior designer Nel Verschuuren acted as a ‘participating curator’, selecting and guiding artists such as Piet Hein Eek and Irene Fortuyn as they created their sections of the city. A ‘House of Light’ was created by the theatre designer Mark Warning, while a ‘Weavers’ Hut’ was created by interior designer Bas van Tol.
Many projects simply repeat the ‘new ways of working’ model across all floors, but Interpolis has created a place where nowhere looks or feels like anywhere else. It is, in effect, an interior landscape of spaces for working, inhabited by a knowledge community that is in control of how it wants to work.
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