When the Regionale Sociale Dienst (RSD), a social service organisation based in The Netherlands, was developing into an open institution that increasingly focussed on the human side, they noticed that their work environment didn’t suit their work ethics anymore. Architect Helga Snel and her team helped them shed their old skin and designed a new environment that was built on their needs. Over two different periods, the reception area and a part of the workspace were renovated. To fully grasp their new way of working, helgasnelarchitecten organised several workshops in which a conversation with the employees was opened up. In the end, they got to the root of RSD’s newly developing identity and were able to formulate the key principles of the design. This resulted into a positive space for both clients and employees that promotes their welfare and emotions as its prime interest. Carpet tiles prove to play an essential role in conveying this message.
The reception area: a calm and welcoming space
Before the renovations took place, the reception area at RSD wasn’t really inviting. A long row of consulting rooms shut off any daylight and connection to the outside world. In the workshops it became apparent that RSD wanted to create a more humane atmosphere. A safe environment in which the clients feel at ease. The resulting design combines soft pastel colours, natural oak and elegant carpet tiles. The subtly structured First Absolute carpet tiles are a perfect match to the warm and welcoming atmosphere. As for the consulting rooms, instead of forming one long row they are now dispersed over the reception area, allowing daylight to seep in and creating a different type of conversation.
The office: a place for meeting and co-working
The approach to the workplace design was slightly different. Instead of setting a calm and peaceful mood, the key principle of new office space was to stimulate its users to move, meet and collaborate. Previously, informal conversation between co-workers had to take place in the corridors because the closed office cubicles refrained them from meeting one another. In the workshops, RSD’s employees therefore expressed their desire for a more dynamic and stimulating work environment. To achieve that, the old coffee-coloured carpets were replaced by a colourful and innovative 3D-concept. This design incorporates a multitude of different carpet tile collections with varying colours and textures to create a lush and tactile environment.
6 collections with different finishes were mixed and matched to give the space an extra rich texture
Working in sculptures
Opposed to the confined and uninspiring office cubicles, Helga Snel wanted to create a three-dimensional setting that inspired movement and connection. In this sense, the floorplan should be read as a 3D-design together with the office furniture.
For the furniture, helgasnelarchitecten collaborated with the Dutch artist Esther Tielemans. Inspired by her installation ‘The Performance’, the furniture at RSD plays with form and colour, but also with the experience of the viewer. The alternating shapes and heights and the coloured panels that match the carpet tiles make up a 3D-design that draws the viewer in. “The people are working in sculptures,” Helga Snel explains. The workspace is no longer static, but has been given momentum. And the employees feel activated and energized.
Throughout the open space, different 3D-sculptures are created in different hues, thereby marking different zones. From invigorating blues and purples to vibrant reds, yellows and oranges, the selected carpet tiles are essential for creating both texture and tonal contrast. “Carpet tiles allow us to combine a wide variety of colours and textures without too much loss due to cutting,” Helga Snel points out. Against all this vibrancy and energy, the minituft collection Grind was picked as a neutral colour, gluing all the zones together.
Play with textures
Next to the colours, the workplace design offers an interesting play with textures. With regard to the carpet tiles, 6 collections with different finishes were mixed and matched to give the space an extra rich texture. Grind, which is used in between the colourful patchworks, is a minituft tile that has a characteristic grainy structure. In contrast to this roughness, Cambridge offers the lavish softness of a cut pile. While Alpha, Step and Millennium Nxtgen feature a speckled loop pile texture. Finally, the Fashion& collection brings a linear structure in bold colours.
But not only the carpets contribute to the tactile qualities of the 3D-design. Also the appearance of the wood (Chili Pine wood with a transparent white coating), the natural texture of the plants, and even the wire-structure of the lamps add extra textural contrast.
In the end, a new approach to working is brought into existence. The furniture, the environment and the people are integrated into a work of art that inspires interconnectedness and dynamism.
Architects: Helga Snel, Jeffrey Reule
Collections: First Absolute, Fashion&, Grind, Cambridge, Alpha, Step, Millennium Nxtgen