Designing buildings to keep people healthy and happy

In a business, healthy, happy workers are probably the most important factor for success. When people are sick and cranky, they can’t be relied on to perform at their peak. However, keeping people mentally and physically well goes beyond providing hand sanitiser and a fruit bowl.

Companies in Amsterdam know this and they’re increasingly offering buildings designed to keep people feeling good. Walk through them and you’ll probably notice a few things these buildings have in common. Plants are everywhere, sunlight floods in from every possible angle and people are skipping the elevator in favour of the stairs. The employees might look a little more chipper, too. And who wouldn’t?

Amsterdam’s renowned work-life balance takes shape in these buildings. By helping people stay well, they ensure that the weekend is more than a recovery period from a week spent in a setting that leaves them feeling less than their best. They’re also a reminder of the Dutch commitment to doing things differently, rethinking what was once the standard and finding a way to do things better.

The Edge

Sustainable green offices in Amsterdam_Deloitte Amsterdam HQ: ‘The Edge’

According to Bloomberg, The Edge is the greenest building in the world, and it also has some ingenious features to keep employees in good spirits. A massive atrium floods the building with natural light, which can boost vitamin D levels, improve sleep and combat seasonal affective disorder. Mesh panels between floors support air circulation and provide ventilation, keeping things fresh. Workers can also visit the on-site gym, where an app tracks their progress and exercise stations pump the energy they expend back into the grid

Goede Doelen Loterijen building

Goede Doelen Loterijen bldg

With its shimmering aluminium roof, the Goede Doelen Loterijen building doesn’t take chances when it comes to the health and wellbeing of its workers. The building centres on a bright, Mediterranean-inspired square filled with plants and trees that absorb CO2 and release oxygen. Some studies have shown that indoor greenery improves mood, concentration and productivity levels, making this feature all the more important. There’s also a Green Zone between the top floor and the roof filled with plants and trees. 

HofmanDujardin Office Villa

HofmanDujardin Office Villa

HofmanDujardin Office Villa, ©HofmanDujardin | Matthijs van Roon

Though the HofmanDujardin Office Villa is located in an old warehouse, it feels more like a cosy home. Skylights let the sun inside, and employees can take a seat by the fireplace when they need a moment of quiet. Two kitchen islands offer a place to prepare healthy meals and socialise with colleagues instead of eating fast food at a desk. Employees of the architecture and interior design firm also have access to plentiful outdoor seating, allowing them to get some sun and fresh air – natural mood boosters – when the weather is nice.

ING Cedar Cumulus Park

ING Cedar Cumulus Park

ING Cedar Cumulus Park, ©Jannes Linders

HofmanDujardin also puts employee wellbeing first in many of its projects, including the ING Cedar Cumulus Park, which focuses on openness, connectivity, empowerment and wellbeing. Spacious and bright, it was designed with Benthem Crouwel Architects and is filled with atrium platforms that foster collaboration and are positioned in a way that aims to motivate people to take the stairs. Plants and trees are scattered throughout the building and the acoustics create a sense of calm. Each level also has a silent area with tables and booths to welcome anyone who needs peace and quiet to do their best work. 

Park 20|20

Park 2020 interior

Take a walk around Park 20|20, a business park close to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and you’re likely to see some smiling faces. Employees can stop for lunch at the on-site café, which serves food made from organic produce harvested from the garden and greenhouse. Plant-covered walls help clean the air and the design of the space encourages interaction and prevents isolation, which can take a serious toll on the psyche. The team behind Park 20|20 also believe the space can save companies money by keeping people healthy and reducing sick days.

TNT Centre

TNT centre

Employees at the TNT Centre in Hoofddorp, which was designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects and serves as the company’s headquarters, have a lot to be happy about. Constant monitoring ensures C02 levels don’t climb too high and the structure’s north-south orientation provides maximum exposure to daylight. Panels made from recycled felt cover the walls and minimise noise. Avoiding the sedentary lifestyle trap is also easier here. A large wooden staircase that begins on the ground floor urges people to boost their step count by not taking the elevator, which also saves on power.