How workplace design can support your company goals

Case study: Triodos Bank | Frankfurt

Triodos Bank N.V. is a bank based in the Netherlands with branches in Belgium, Germany, The United Kingdom, and Spain. Triodos’ mission is to ‘help create a society that protects and promotes quality of life and human dignity for all’ by means of ethical banking1. Triodos Bank finances companies which it believes add cultural value and benefit both people and the environment.

At the beginning of our AKKA process, we engaged the employees of the Triodos Bank based in Frankfurt, in a collaborative phase called Appreciate. Before any design was started, we engaged people to gather from them their insights and experiences and help them define them further. This not only allows us to understand the community of users in a certain space but more importantly, it also creates aligned understanding among the community members themselves. This first phase is not about the space itself but about the community of people in an organisation, their vision, goals, and values. 

Triodos bank has a very clear vision. Therefore, we wanted the role of the office space to not only reflect that vision but actively empower the Triodos employees towards it. This project was driven by this question: how can we create a workplace that enables its employees to create a sustainable world, be innovative, do meaningful work, improve financial markets, and create a positive impact in the world.

AKKA Architects Triodos Germany Colour Palette Workplace Design

The space is able to fulfill three distinct roles and works as a:

Context
The first and well-known role of space is to be the most beautiful, inspiring and functional context it can be.

Communicator
The second role of the workplace is playing an active voice that can communicate the identity of the company and its people. This is not about having the company logo on the wall, but rather, this is about designing spaces that in their planning, program and implicit energy can communicate the collective vision of their users. 

AKKA Architects Triodos Germany Colour Palette Workplace Design

Sustainability is one of the most important values that drives Triodos’ work. Being focused on the Sustainable Development Goals2 and sustainability in the largest sense of the word, we incorporated sustainability principles into every detail of the workplace design. We, as architects and designers, can have a large impact through our design when it comes to waste reduction, recycling, reusing and re-purposing objects. In this project, all these forms of sustainability were taken into account. 

One of the perfect areas to be the representation of the “communicator” role of the space is the entrance of the workplace. The entrance includes a reception on one side and a café on the other. Between them, a corridor takes you further into the office area. To design a successful entrance, it was essential to downplay the corridor and link the reception to the cafe by creating one united large area. As you enter the area, you will find an interactive multi-use installation on the large wall that links both reception and cafe and bridges over the corridor. In addition, the Welcoming installation was designed to: 

  • Provide overall information to employees and visitors regarding Triodos’ impact around the world, by means of an ‘interactive’ world map. As you get closer to the wall, you discover more and more detailed levels of information. The story unfolds as you get closer to the wall. Since Triodos’ impact keeps increasing, the world map is designed to be flexible and easily adaptable to reflect the latest developments.
  • Showcase the awards and prizes of Triodos on flexible shelves.
  • Incorporate a projection area.
  • Incorporate a bench made out of cylinders coming out of the wall to create a sitting area in the cafe section.
  • Create a unique experience and atmosphere in the reception and cafe areas of the space.
Triodos Germany AKKA Architects Colours Palette

The entire wall installation is made out of FSC certified recycled wood. In order to make the wall flexible and aesthetically aligned with its surroundings, we designed it to be perforated. The ‘waste’ created from the perforated panels, which was a number of small discs, was used to create the reception counter in the same space. This way there was zero waste.

AKKA Architects Triodos Germany Colour Palette Workplace Design

Enabler
The third role of the space is to be an enabler. We believe that space has the responsibility to encourage the behaviour needed for its inhabitants to achieve their vision. This is how space can be an active catalyst for the very interactions that a group of people needs to perform as best they can and achieve their common goal.

We designed the open-plan office to offer a variety of different work settings and to improve the synergy and collaboration between the employees. An increase in collaboration means an increase in innovation, performance and job satisfaction. 

A future proof workplace design
Because people and business change and evolve, space was designed to adapt. We design spaces that work in the present but are also able to adapt to changing circumstances as time passes. This resilient quality of a space is what makes it truly sustainable – in the sense that it can sustain itself over the long term future.

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