- simplicity and economy
CZ Group is a Dutch insurance company, formed in 1930 by a trade union. Its main aim is to look after its members’ health insurance policies. The co-operative values are important to the company. When two organisations in the group were merged, a new head office was needed.
The CZ Group wanted the new head office to reflect the company’s values.
Location: Tilburg, Holland
Construction years: 1994—95
Architect: INBO Architects, Rob Langeslag, Jan van Dijk
Strong sense of form
The key words for the architecture are simplicity and economy. In architectural terms this is expressed by a strong sense of form in the use of various elements of concrete, glass and steel. The visitor encounters a spherical building. It houses the entrance, lecture room and restaurant. Two "discs", containing the actual office functions, flank this with connection via bridges. The bridges are covered by a parabolic glass roof that provides space and light – from the fourth floor down to the cellar. This is, however, not a flexible office. Most work is carried out at stationary workplaces.
Yet these are arranged in a functional and pleasant way to provide employees with a good working environment. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. One important reason for the employees’ well being is the peaceful environment and good acoustics.
When it opened, the head office had 600 employees. Today there are 750. In spite of this, the building is still working well. The employees work in open-plan offices and cellular offices.
The open, informal layout invites communication as well as providing total flexibility. Sockets for electricity, telephones and computers are located in a number of floor wells that are well integrated into the floor covering.
Aesthetics and ethics
The interior design has been well thought out. The furniture has been carefully selected to blend in with the architectural environment. There are no name signs on doors, and the desks must be empty when the office closes down in the evening. The reason is not just an aesthetic one. The CZ Group deals with issues that affect the integrity of the individual. The thinking is that such paperwork should not be left lying around for anyone to read.
The open layout, the choice of materials and the aesthetic aims all placed high demands on sound absorption. For this reason the architect Jan van Dijk called in acoustics specialists Peutz & Associates B.V at an early stage. The fruit of their co-operation was a number of discrete, functional special solutions. One example is bafflers that hang vertically from the ceiling with integrated lighting. The ceiling and walls in the opening between the levels were clad with sound absorbent material. The result is a good working environment where the employees are happy and healthy.