We have defined the term and heard those in the know talk the wellness talk. But what about the reality of the concept? Three buildings, including new kid on the block The Edge, are poised to demonstrate the powers and benefits of wellbeing.
Rising up like a geometric diamond on an otherwise uninspiring business park, The Edge really is just that – a building at the cutting edge of modern design, technology and wellness.
Deloitte’s Amsterdam HQ also happens to be on the edge of the city, but that does not stop thousands of people from flocking to it every week. “Our staff can choose which office they work in,” says Erik Ubels, chief technology officer of OVG Real Estate in the Netherlands and Deloitte’s former chief innovation officer. “We have people who live in Rotterdam, where we also have an office, commuting here just to be in this space.”
And it is not just Deloitte staff who have been inspired by the app-controlled, PLP Architecture-designed building. “Huge businesses from around Amsterdam and beyond want to book desks here,” says Thimon De Jong, a future strategist based in the city. “This is where all the corporates want to be, just to get a taste of a new way of working. And they will travel for the experience.”
While not officially a Well-certified building, the Edge has been designed to the very last detail with the people who spend time within its walls in mind. How they feel, the effect of the bricks and mortar (or rather glass and light levels) on their health and happiness has all been at the heart of the design process.
And now the Edge is proving something crucial for the wellness agenda; that people are prepared to travel – and travel significant distances – for a better, healthier workplace. Even when they have alternatives on their doorstep.
So what exactly is it about this building that is pulling in the crowds?
Walking into the 15-storey atrium gives a bit of a clue. It is truly show stopping, but not just for the hell of it. It has been designed to make walking into the building as relaxing and calming an experience as possible. Mainly because it is light, but not too light: “The atrium is purposefully north facing,” explains the project architect Ron Bakker, a partner at PLP Architecture. “This means it is a daylight space, not a sunlight space so it is light but not hot. And the shape of the building has been specifically designed so that 60% of the office space gets full daylight.”
As the central element of the building, the atrium does not just deliver on sustainability targets – this building was awarded a BREEAM score of 98.4%, the highest ever until last month – but also on wellness.
“A really clear step on from sustainability is wellness,” says Bakker. “The Edge leaves people feeling energised. Deloitte tells me people will travel for miles to work here and I think a lot of that is down to the fact it is also a smart building with an app that people can use to create their ultimate working environment.”
The app works in a number of ways, all of which are designed to make navigating the building a better experience. From guiding staff to particular workspaces which will best suit their plan for the day or the week, to navigating people from space to space based on their calendars and diaries.
And with an emphasis on new, exciting work stations – a working deck which juts out into the heart of the atrium and suspends in mid-air is the most booked space in the building – The Edge has been meticulously planned to keep its occupants energised, engaged and on the move. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.