A Mustard Lab-Transformation Marked by Reuse and New Aesthetics
July 13, 2012
Photos courtesy of Philippe Ruault
Dutch architects MVRDV have converted a mustard laboratory in Dijon into a Teletech call center that takes the New Aesthetic at full face value, literally. With a budget of only 4 million euros, the design strategy necessitated that few changes be made to the building’s exterior shell so as to allocate the majority of the funds towards reinventing the interior of the space. According to the architects, “the more reuse of the existing is possible the more budget is liberated for interventions”, a concept that can be problematic in architecture when a building is in relatively good order but whose programmatic spaces prove incapable of accommodating any new or unintended functions. Continue.
Because the call center peak times constitute an irregular 8-hour workday, the architects wanted to create a flexible workspace that fostered spaces that embraced both work and downtime. Where a field of confining cubicles was once arrayed, the 600 employees now connect wirelessly, lounging on neon-colored cushions and ergonomic chairs or fraternizing on the stepped timber platforms that inhabit the former industrial space. Any of the employees can log-in from anywhere inside the 40-meter X 70-meter box, and they can choose whether to work at a desk or slouched over in “homey” bean-bag chairs.
The deceptively sleek interiors were modified in the most cost effective ways possible. Still, the designers aimed to practically and strategically reduce unnecessary construction costs. Rather than dolling up the building’s exterior with frivolous (and expensive) flash, for example, the façade was wrapped with QR code prints that direct phone users to current trends and events. The building itself aims to maintain local jobs that would otherwise be outsourced, creating community involvement by housing an education center, fitness center, a gallery and even a project incubator.