sustainable interiors: touring a reversible and biophilic office

in sustainable interiors

Designing buildings and interiors with sustainability in mind means – among the rest – considering the end-of-life phase, namely what happens when the building/interior is to be disposed of. If indiscriminate demolition and landfilling are the least sustainable answers, reversibility is among the most sustainable. Imagine being able to take interiors and buildings apart without material loss!

Let’s then tour an office building that has been designed for reversibility – while also embodying a distinctly biophilic identity.

the building

Triodos Bank is a bank office designed with a circular mindset.

The entire architecture is held together with screws (a staggering 165,312 screws), a method that makes the building indefinitely demountable and re-mountable.

The structure is entirely wooden, with only the basement using concrete. All materials and components are documented online (on the Madaster (opened in a new window/tab) platform), to further facilitate future reuse.

Outside view of the building, immersed in a lush green landscape.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Ossip van Duivenbode
Outside of the building, with trees in close proximity and organic-shaped pathways.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Ossip van Duivenbode
Close-up of the building's organic shape.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge

the interior

The interior design follows a similarly sustainable approach.

Much of the wood used indoors comes from nearby forests, bringing together a responsible use of resources and the biophilic intent of building local identity. Raw tree trunks are also used as part of the design: some as columns and others for seating, with old chair backs turning them into benches.

All leather elements have been crafted in a responsible way. Cowhide was sourced from organic and local cattle, whose origin can be traced back. The tanning process (one of the most unsustainable phases of leather production) was conducted without hard chemicals.

The furniture selection is a triumph of natural materials and sustainable pieces, and the design takes occupants’ comfort into close account, achieving a pleasant interior climate with limited use of resources.

Wood tables made with locally sourced timber.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
An old tree trunk turned into a bench.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Common area featuring a raw tree trunk column.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Common area featuring chairs made with textile scraps.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge

biophilic features

The design of this office is an inspiring example of biophilic design.

To begin with, the building rises among trees, and its curved shape is inspired by the flight paths of bats as well as the layout of the surroundings. The building has two entry points, without one being the primary entrance: a way to invite casual exploration of the site.
The floor-to-ceiling façade provides visual connection with the surroundings, and the ability to open the windows makes for a deeper sensory contact that includes natural ventilation.

Indoors, the colour palette establishes a first connection with the landscape through neutral tones and a variety of wooden elements.
Organic forms are everywhere in the space. Tree-shaped columns recall a canopy-like experience, an amphitheater-like area creates a welcoming atmosphere for informal meetings, and common areas feature small seating alcoves inside the bigger space.

The layout offers multiple occasions for collaboration while providing different working setups.
Open, more informal seating is available throughout the building. In the office towers, some work areas are separated by acoustically insulated transparent partitions, a way to provide acoustic privacy while keeping a sense of prospect. Other workstations follow a refuge archetype: enclosed by solid walls, they provide visual privacy as well as a space to focus.

Common meeting area with a view over trees.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Outdoor view over trees.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Common area featuring wooden tables and chair and canopy-like columns.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Amphitheater-like open meeting area.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Seating options in the common areas carving private alcoves.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Workspaces closed with glass walls.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Close-up of the textured textile wallcovering in the closed workspace.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge
Common area with refuge-like workstations.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Alexander van Berge

 
 
Overall, this project shows a deep relationship with nature, bringing together biophilic elements and a thoughtful sustainable design. An inspiring example for all workplaces!

Design: RAU Architects (opened in a new window/tab) + Ex Interiors (opened in a new window/tab)

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