Delft, NL | Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Manchester, GB | Washington D.C.
Programme: Advice centre for 320 employees with a surface area of 6,800 m2, with a reception area, auditorium, restaurant, touchdown workplaces, large meeting areas, concentration areas, library, discussion areas, flex centre, call centre, office spaces.
Client: Rabobank Westelijke Mijnstreek
Design: 2011 -2012
Realization: 2012 -2014
Rabobank Westelijke Mijnstreek’s new Advice Centre is centrally located in Sittard and will house approximately 320 employees in an inspirational working environment. The bank’s clients and customers will be welcome at the Advice Centre for advisory discussions and meetings. Rabobank is a cooperative bank with an open culture and community-oriented, cooperative approach.
Mecanoo translated these key values by designing an open and attractive advice centre that is both literally and metaphorically connected to its environmental context, its customers and employees. Inside and outside natural materials are utilized, including: wood, stone, brick, steel and glass. With its elevated position on an artificial mound, a visual connection is created with the lush and rolling landscape of the province of Limburg.
Visibility and accessibility
Reflecting Rabobank’s corporate transparency, its three impressive wings terminate in glass façades which extend over three floors making everything that happens inside the bank visible from the outside. These façades consist of brick and marlstone which are a reference to the marl-rich soil of the surrounding area. Consistency between inside and outside is established with a stone floor that extends from the outside area to the central hall and the meeting rooms.
Upon entering the building, one immediately feels welcome in the lively meeting space that is the central hall. Here in the heart of the building, the logic behind the design becomes immediately apparent with a large auditorium and adjacent restaurant to the left and meeting rooms in the wing to the right. This open layout makes it possible to see all the activity taking place in the upper levels floors higher up in the offices, the flex centre and the call centre. Sculptural roof lights and cleverly positioned artificial light emphasize the shape of the building.
The large auditorium is not only suitable for informal discussions or as a flexible workspace, but also for (external) lectures and events. A semi-transparent curtain of over ten metres high encircles the auditorium, enriching the space and creating a beautiful effect. By adjusting the curtain in different positions it’s possible to create a variety of different atmospheres, from an open space to one with a more introverted and intimate character. The concept for the layout of the Rabobank Westelijke Mijnstreek is based on Het Nieuwe Werken a philosophy for alternative working practices that focuses on innovation, participation and results-oriented ways of working.
The new Advice Centre is set up in such a way to inspire employees, enabling them to work together, meet each other, exchange knowledge easily and feel connected with the bank. Depending on the need, employees can choose from different types of workspaces, such as conference rooms, meeting points, areas facilitating interaction or concentration.
BREEAM very good
The sustainability score of the building is BREEAM Very Good and the bank is linked to Het Groene Net (the Green Network) in Sittard, which makes use of residual heat from the Chemelot industrial zone, meaning there’s no need to generate energy for individual heating or cooling requirements. Ventilation, heating and cooling systems are controlled by the air conditioning in the ceilings.
In addition, the building has a flat panel air conditioning system facing south that reflects some of the solar energy on warm days, while the heat of the sun between the façade and the screen is mechanically extracted so that the auditorium remains pleasantly cool.
Location: Sittard, the Netherlands
My Role: Lead architects
Additional Credits: Imagery by Christian Richters.