It was 2014 when the Dutch Charity Lotteries first began their search for an architect to design a building for their 600 employees to work in. For years, the company had worked from various offices in Amsterdam, Houten and Eemnes. Their wish for a new shared head office culminated in the purchase of the building that was once known as the ‘Widow of Zuidas’ – a vacant, lonely and rather forlorn-looking building on Beethovenstraat. But the company saw the building’s potential, and renovating an existing building was also consistent with its vision of realising their new office as sustainably as possible.
The first step in the process was for the project to be ‘pitched’, as is customary in the world of architects. Van der Made, partner at Benthem Crouwel Architects, recalls: ‘This design challenge felt unusual and rather special right from the start. Creating an office that “feels like a home” is not your standard brief.’ And the approach taken by founder and CEO of the Charity Lotteries, Boudewijn Poelmann, was also a little different. ‘He asked every employee for their input, regardless of the technical parameters that had been set, and drew up a wish list. And sure enough, that wish list became just as important as the technical parameters. That inspired the whole agency to pull together. We organised a day for everyone in the organisation – from trainee to partner to receptionist – to contribute their ideas. And the result was the design that we presented to the Charity Lotteries.’