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Office Of The Future: The Edge, Amsterdam

Posted by
on October 24, 2015 at 06:30 PM

Winning the highest ­sustainability score ever awarded: 98.4 percent, by British rating agency BREEAM, The Edge is, according to their parameters, the ­greenest office building in the world! Built in 2014 by OVG Real Estate, in close partnership with building’s principle occupier Deloitte and notary and law firm AKD; and designed by London-based PLP Architects, The Edge takes smartness and sustainability several notches higher! 

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Using the principles of het nieuwe werken, which means ‘a new way of working’ and employing innovative smart technology, the 40,000 square metre (430,000 square foot) Grade A office building achieved a remark as ‘Outstanding’ and a score of 98.36% - The Edge is an exemplary specimen of information technology shaping the way we work and the spaces in which we do it. It’s about resource efficiency in the traditional sense—the solar panels create more electricity than the building uses.

Pic: 1, 2, 3. Facade and Entrance

Deloitte’s general philosophy with the Edge was that anything with a return on ­investment of less than 10 years is worth a try. The digital ceiling was one of the most expensive innovations; which is supposed to take 8.3 years to earn it back. Coen van Oostrom, chief executive officer of OVG Real Estate, has a vision of becoming the Uber of architecture – with a simple vision: “We connect them, we make them more efficient, and in the end we will actually need fewer buildings in the world.”

Pics: 4 - 9, 11 - 13. Atrium and The New Ways of Working

The Edge in Amsterdam functions via a smartphone app developed with the building’s main tenant, consulting firm Deloitte. The app checks your schedule, and the building identifies your car when you drive into through the gate and directs you to a parking spot. Eventually guides you to a desk – because the Edge employs the concept of “hot-desking” – so about 2,500 Deloitte workers share 1,000 desks! Workspaces are based on your schedule: sitting desk, standing desk, work booth, meeting room, balcony seat, or “concentration room.” Wherever you are, the app adjusts the environment based on your preferences for light and temperature.

Ron Bakker, architect of the Edge at London-based PLP Architecture explains: “A quarter of this building is not allocated desk-space, it’s more of a place to meet.  We notice that office space is not so much about the workspace itself; it’s really about making a working community, and for people to have a place that they want to come to, where ideas are nurtured and the future is determined."

However, this highly futuristic, technology-driven building fulfills all norms of sustainability and has emerged as an energy-neutral building. To achieve this, OVG partnered with the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) to fit an area of 4,100 square metres (44,132 sq ft) on the school’s rooftops with solar panels. The south façade of The Edge is also fitted with solar panels on all surfaces that are not windows. With these fittings added, The Edge uses 70 percent less electricity than an average office building. 

The Edge also employs water conservation measures.  A massive concrete tub in the back of the parking garage collects rainwater, which comes down from the roof and balcony. This is then used to flush the building’s toilets and water the gardens. Moreover, an aquifer thermal energy storage (approximately 130 m. below the ground) generates all energy required for heating and cooling of the building. According to Robert van Alphen, OVG's project manager for the Edge, the system developed for the Edge is the most efficient aquifer thermal energy storage in the world.

This futuristic building has super-efficient LED panels, made by Philips specifically for the Edge. They consume minimum electricity and are packed with sensors—motion, light, temperature, humidity, infrared—creating a “digital ceiling” that orchestrates the whole building, much like the human brain.

The architectural highlight of The Edge is its atrium – with its iconic slanted roof, which floods the workspaces with daylight and provides a sound buffer from the adjacent highway and train tracks. Every workspace is within 7 meters (23 feet) of a window. Mesh panels between each floor let stale office air spill into open space, where it rises and is exhaled through the roof, creating a loop of natural ventilation. Slight heat variations and air currents make it feel like the outdoors. Even on a stormy day, the building remains opalescent with natural light and angles of glass.

Pic: 10. Robots

Basically, The Edge explores a whole new way of working. There are robots for office security as well as for housekeeping. There are sensors which tell the robots the most used spaces in the day, and clean accordingly! There are also game rooms and coffee bars with espresso machines that remember how you much sugar to add to your coffee. Massive flat-screens around every corner can be synced wirelessly with any phone or laptop – thereby encouraging people to adapt to the more flexible spatial planning, break free from their rigid ways of thinking and living. 

Pic: 14. Landscaped Terrace; Pic: 15. Pockmarked towers for bees; Pic: 16. Sensors showing Heat Map of building floor

In terms of responsibility to the city, OVG worked with Amsterdam officials to establish a continuous path of vegetation that supports birds, bats, bees and beneficial bugs all throughout the city.The north-facing landscaped terraces are wonderful spaces which also have birdhouses and bat-boxes, and pockmarked towers that support various species of bees!

Designer : PLP Architecture, London
Photography :Internet Sources

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