Powerhouse Company delivers Danone's new head office—a model for health and sustainability
The world leading food company Danone has officially opened the doors of its new office in Hoofddorp. Designed and built for Danone in a strategic location of Amsterdam metropolitan area, the office will serve as the new headquarters for Early Life Nutrition and Advanced Medical Nutrition. Two of the company’s leading businesses and the global procurement function of Danone: Cycles & Procurement. In 2017Powerhouse Company won the competition for the 8.400 m2 office building in collaboration with developers from RED Company. Nanne de Ru, founder and leader of both organizations, led his teams to deliver a building that strongly reflects Danone's vision, "One Planet. One Health". With its focus on sustainability and health, the new building gives shape to the belief that the health of the planet and people are interconnected.
Clean Lines and Round Corners
The state-of-the-art office building is located on the Taurusavenue, near the historical monument of the Amsterdam Defense Line, listed as Unesco World Heritage since 1996. The exterior aspect of the building, with its clean lines and transparent character, was designed to match this special context. A grid of light-colored Terrazzo cladding frames the large openings. The transition from the building to the natural surrounding is mediated by the rounded corners of the building volume, that soften the geometric grid of the facade. To realize these perfectly rounded corners in the building, Powerhouse Company collaborated with Saint Gobain to develop the spectacular-size round glass that contributes to the unique character of the project.
The Atrium: Social Heart of the Building
The interior of the building is shaped around a spacious atrium adjacent to the garden. A glass roof, together with the transparent facade, floods the space with natural light all the way through the ground floor. The atrium features the building’s ‘green lung,’ a spectacular 20-meter-high wall covered with plants, visible from all the balconies of the four 1600 m2 office floors that embrace the spacious void. On the southwest side of the atrium, visitors are led to the first floor through a large staircase, a volumetric element that defines the space and the grand start of the walking route throughout the whole building. Combining the informal quality of a gathering space with the public prominence of an exhibition space, the design of the staircase responds to its main functions: the large steps host flexible staff meetings and breaks, as well as presentations and lectures.
Tailored for the Future
The ground floor accommodates the public functions of the building, such as the reception and the restaurant. The column-free office floors that face the atrium are filled with daylight and are designed as flexible workspaces. Through the glass facades, they also offer spectacular views on Schiphol Airport, the building garden, and the surrounding polder landscape. Inviting and informal working places stimulate different ways of working together throughout the whole building. The head office is located on the first floor. Featuring a variety of spaces for small and large gatherings, it can also be used as a meeting center. The space, together with the restaurant and the garden, meets Danone’s need to have all meetings and seminars in-house.
The Green Lung
The atrium plays a central role in creating a healthy working environment, an essential requirement for Danone. The prominent positioning of the staircase, designed as an element of socialization, makes it more attractive to employees, encouraging them to ditch the elevators, which are hidden from the view. The air-purifying plants growing on the impressive vertical garden makes the atrium truly the “green lung” of the building. In addition to that, the atrium is crucial to ensuring optimal air circulation, daylight, and social interactions to its users.
A Smart Office Building
Specifically designed to support Danone’s vision “One Planet. One Health”, the building achieved the highest ambitions in terms of sustainability and health, as demonstrated by the LEED Gold and WELL Gold certification. Sustainability measures, such as the use of recycle steel and recycled concrete, are paired with smart strategies essential to the physical and mental well-being of the employees. Materials are carefully selected on the basis of strict health criteria, the availability of sports facilities and green areas stimulates employees to exercise and spend time outside more often, and the canteen only serves healthy food.
From a technological standpoint, Danone’s office building is equipped with a smart grid (bGrid) that regulates, among other things, temperature, CO2 levels and light. Innovative apps are available not only to control climate and light, but also to support smart working: apps such as “Find my colleague”, “Roombooking”, and “Workplace finding” reduce friction in the work environment and ensure an optimal and sustainable use of space and resources. These measures make Danone one of the most sustainable and healthy office building in the Netherlands.
A Sustainable and Healthy Campus
Danone’s head office and the new ASICS headquarters, also designed by Powerhouse Company, form together a sustainable and healthy campus with shared facilities. Located above a half underground parking garage, the campus has a spacious and lush garden for exercise and outdoor activities. The garden, with its winding walking routes and spacious lawn, was designed by landscape architect LAP Landscape and Urban Design. The development of the campus added the health theme to the profile of Beukenhorst South, already known as one of the most sustainable office parks in Europe.
"We let Danone's motto 'One Planet. One Health' inspire us to design a building we are exceptionally proud of. The head office will create the perfect working conditions for a company that has made sustainability and health its core values. With its future-proof design and technologies, the building will foster growth and innovation, both on an individual level as well as the company."
— Nanne de Ru, Founding Partner at Powerhouse Company