Architects: Branimir Medic & Pero Puljiz, de Architekten Cie
Location: Groningen, Netherlands
Project Team: V. Ulrich, M. de Jong, K. de Schepper, C. Garcia, W. Benschop, M. Keijzer, P. van Berkum, H.O. Vermeer
Construction Year: 2003-2005
Contractor: Heijmans IBC bouw bv, Assen
Structural Engineer: Ingenieursbureau Wassenaar bv, Haren
Constructed Area: 20,000 sqm
Photographs: Allard van der Hoek, Christian Richters, Luuk Kramer
The new construction for the Menzis health insurarce company is situated on the edge of the Europapark urban expansion of the city of Groningen. At city scale level, the construction expresses its iconographic character toward the urban circular and the A7 motorway, the Europaweg. At ground floor level, the street alignment is determinated by the Europapark, where the building, as it rises, gradually leans over into the street space.
The 12-storey building is divided into three identical prismatic segments, rotatred 90º in relation to each other. With dimensions of 43 x 43 m, the segment is characterized by functional yet aesthetic compactness. Each segment contains four storeys, intersected vertically by an atrium. As a consequence, a spiral of atria is generated, forming an internal response to the dynamic exterior.
The foot accommodates the public functions, which are orientated toward the atrium and include service desks, an insurance shop and a healthcare service center. A doctor’s room and several consulting rooms are situated in themore private area. A practical system of partitioning divides the third and fourth floors into meeting rooms, a library, training areas, an auditorium, and a restaurant. The restaurant area can also be deployed flexibly as extra meeting space if required. The spacious staircase, which allow easy public flow though the atrium to the restaurant and meeting centre above, offer an unimpeded view of both the inner area and the water of the Winschoterdiep (canal).
The middle and upper segments are generic. The specific presence of the atrium, which allows the incidence of daylight into the building, contrasts with the neutral character of each storey. The atrium divides each storey into a series of working areas with distinct qualities: peripheral or secluded, light or well-shaded, open or closed. The variation in spatial conditions enables the application of diverse office concepts, geared to the different work processes within Menzis, such as the call center, administrative functions, and stuff functions. The atrium stairs facilitate informal contact between the floors. In combination with the use of natural materials, the magnolia garden around the building with its diverse terraces, water features and illuminations, contributes to creating a pleasant and relaxed ambience.