No one could have foreseen that when we moved from The Hague into our ground floor office at the AmLab in downtown Amsterdam, we would out-grow this space within a year and a half. Fortunately for Akvo, during that time a huge office space became available on the third floor of the same building.
There is a whole lot more to the new Akvo office than just desks and meeting rooms. It needs to fulfill a range of functions and this need had to be integrated into its design.
Akvo is all about transparency and that is what we wanted the new office to be. The office is one large, open space and the few necessary walls that we put in – needed for separate meeting space – are therefore glass walls.
To layout and decorate this new space, we were assisted by the designers from Gevonden op Marktplaats. These guys are experts in finding beautiful, used furniture and also did a great job with the AmLab office fit-out in 2011.
As a foundation active in the international development aid sector, we’re a non-profit on a budget and we value the re-use of old/used furniture, but also like its look and feel. Therefore in our new office we tried to use secondhand furniture where possible – upcycling that is!
As an international organisation, we work with partners from every corner of the world and therefore the new Amsterdam head office needed to have a variety of areas that allow for Skype meetings and phone calls without disturbing others at work in this open plan space.
Akvo is growing at a considerable rate and the office design needs to allow further growth. Certainly because we are not planning to relocate again any time soon. The office now has twenty fixed desks but, if needed, an additional ten desks can be added without changing the design.
Akvo is also a home in the sense that we spend a lot of time working here. It should be a comfortable, inspiring and nice space to spend time. Apart from being a place to work, the office should also have areas where we can relax: have a coffee, enjoy our daily communal lunch, or simply catch up with a chat – in the kitchen or one of the lounge areas.
So how did all of this take shape? Many people put in a lot of energy and hard work to make this move happen – including the designers, carpenters, electricians and Akvo staff. We kicked-off the move with two ‘Akvo do-it-yourself-days’ just before the holidays. During our DIY days, Akvo staff left their laptops at home and instead brought in drills and hammers. What a great thing to be working on: creating our new office as a team. In the weeks following, it has been a continuous moving, painting, drilling and screwing together of desks, cupboards, drawers and tables. Last week we added a few finishing touches and we are very happy with the result.
So next time you visit Akvo, you will need to travel just a little bit further, or higher actually – three flights of stairs that is. But we would like to welcome you to our brand new office to come and see the result. And until then, you can check out my photos of the office move and the finished space on flickr.
Charlotte Soedjak is a project officer at Akvo, based in Amsterdam.
Related reading: History of our building (Peter van der Linde, August 2011)