Nemo – the Amsterdam science museum designed by Renzo Piano – rises like the
pontifical bow of a ship from its harbour site in Holland’s commercial
capital. In creating two office floors for McKinsey & Company at the top of
the building, Bruls en Co. made an elegant and unmistakable reference to the
Italian architect’s nautical style. Floor, framework and joists reflect the
grey-blue colour of the sea. Heavy bolts in the window frames are
reminiscent of the rivets once used to build steel bridges. The uppermost
floor offers a view of three offices situated at the lower level: looking
down, you’re the captain on the bridge, surveying the scene on the deck
below, where a high, rounded wall gives the same space the appearance of a
hold. The nautical look pervades the design down to the smallest detail.
Lamps resemble suspension bridges, and office areas are separated from the
staircase by a sail-and-mast construction. McKinsey & Company develops a
range of internet activities for its clients. Bruls en Co. created three
levels of fraternisation for the continually alternating teams that use the
workspace: meeting rooms for consultation, ‘cockpits’ that function as
individual workstations and lounge areas for informal contact. To further
the cause of good communication, walls are made of glass. An abundance of
varnished wood provides a sense of warmth and an image of durability. As a
contrast to the immateriality of the internet, the architects allowed all
mechanical systems in the building – sprinklers, air conditioning and so
forth – to remain visible. Robust furniture and ingenious lighting
installations underline this idea. Bruls en Co. has produced an office that
radiates the dynamic of an ocean-going vessel while furnishing its
alternating users with a beacon of stability.
By Jeroen Junte

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