Headquarters ASR

Archimedeslaan 10, Utrecht, Nederland

The strategy behind the renovation of a.s.r. was to preserve what was good and renew what could be improved. The 1970s office building, one of the largest in the Netherlands, was stripped down to the shell and fitted with new façades, an underground conference center, and a completely new interior that includes a number of voids. The building has been transformed, almost beyond recognition, into a bright, green, open office complex. The concrete columns are the only indication that this is not a new building. Remarkably, the building remained in use throughout the renovation. The building has been rated ‘BREEAM-NL­ excellent’ for sustainability.

SAWTOOTH FAÇADE – On the west, south, and east sides, the energy-saving, double-layer, climate-regulating façade features integrated ventilation and solar shading. The sawtooth-shaped façade cassettes change direction on each floor, resulting in a horizontal articulation, a reference to the original façade composition. Since the technical space does not require windows, the sawtooth façade here is covered in plants and nesting boxes for birds.

WINTER GARDENS – The outer layer of the double façade fits around the existing building like an oversized coat. This creates extra space for winter gardens at various points. With new buildings, designing extra space and surface area is almost impossible, but in this case it resulted in a more compact building and therefore less façade area and less energy loss. The highest winter garden brings daylight all the way down to the new underground conference center. Greenery forms an integral aspect of the office concept and creates a remarkable alternative office environment. Almost every floor enjoys access to a rooftop garden or winter garden.

EDGES OF VOIDS – The angled lines of the façade recur throughout the building, including the walls of meeting spaces, the reception desks, the tree tubs, and the cloakroom. Voids have been carved out of what were previously gloomy office floors. The balustrades to the voids, also angled, feature integrated workspaces and are finished in white reflective Corian, bringing daylight deep into the building. Their lower surface is covered in white felt for good acoustics. A heating system incorporated into the balustrades offsets the effect of cold draughts. This is just one example of the integration of architecture, technology, and interior.