With its dynamic, sculptural design, the new head office of the Atradius insurance bank is a conspicuous eye-catcher. It is located along Amsterdam’s Johan Huizingalaan. Artradius is the architectural answer to the bank’s request for an office with a distinct identity. This identity is not so much thanks to its exterior design. In fact, it thanks it’s identity to the remarkable design from within the building.
For Atradius, we developed an innovative office concept. This concept is directly observable from the outside. To break with the individuality-focused working atmosphere, the design is based on communication and human contact. ‘Space to meet one another’ was the theme on which the spatial organisation of the plan was based.
Next, we created areas in which employees of different departments can meet one another in an informal atmosphere. We did this by arranging a large number of voids – eleven in total – across the building in the form of green atria. These atria, which differ in shape and height, are intended to serve as municipal parks or tree-lined squares. The parks are connected to one another via a welcoming set of stairs. This enables people to follow an interesting route through the entire building. At the main entrance a view penetrating deep into the building provide a clear impression of the building’s spatial layout. Here a broad staircase grants access to the “park route”.
Secondly, we alternately arranged the parks are along the building’s four walls. We did this by admitting a lot of light into the interior via large transparent glass panels. From outside, the parks are clearly visible behind the glass panels thanks to the green plants they contain and because the pronounced vertical wall grid is interrupted at the parks.
Opting for a relatively ‘deep’ building volume allowed room for voids and an opportunity to design the building to meet the various departments’ demand for space. We ‘cut away’ superfluous parts of the basic volume – the rectangular box – to obtain a dynamic crystal shape. As a result, no two floors in the building are the same, which enhances the individual departments’ identities.
The ground floor and first floor of the Atradius building, accommodate representative functions such as a reception area, a congress centre, a restaurant and an Internet café. The stairway connects the congress centre and the restaurant. This way, the centre functions independently.
The supporting structure of the eleven-storey building comprises a concrete core, steel columns set at a centre-to-centre distance of 3.60 metres along the wall and reinforced concrete floors. By using sliding formwork to build the concrete core, we saved a lot of building time.
The building’s complex contours made steel columns an obvious option. Steel readily follows contours and moreover helps create the desired transparent character. We ‘lifted up’ one corner of the building at the entrance, via an impressive steel rafter structure.
For this purpose, we developed a special aluminium profile system that accentuates the vertical lines of the glass wall. As a result, you won’t see a ribbed profile projecting from the wall plane. Instead, you’ll see a broad aluminium ‘cannelure’ constituting a recess in the glass surface. One cannelure and two aluminium glass profiles are as wide as the column behind them. This way, the rhythm of the supporting structure is echoed in the wall. The cannelures are narrower at the double-storey parks. We did this to subdue the impact of the accentuated vertical wall lines and visually break the rigid grid.