Two weeks in a row, two works of architecture involving the repurposing of an existing building into another building, and this project is the conversion of a mustard laboratory in Dijon into a Telecom call center. The project architects, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, had taken the New Aesthetic at full face value (as you can plainly see). Even though a problem with repurposing existing buildings is the possibility of the spaces being incapable of adapting to any new functions (regardless of building condition), the firm claimed that “the more reuse of the existing is possible the more budget is liberated for interventions.” That statement is made clear by the project’s 4 million euro budget (about $4.89 million), as the design strategy involved only minor changes to the existing exterior casing, and concentrated on almost entirely renovating the interior spaces.
MVRDV decided on creating a flexible workspace that was able to be usable during work hours and downtime based upon the nature of call center peak times, which usually involve an irregular 8-hour workday. Replacing a field of typical cubicles, the workspace for 600 employees allows them to connect wirelessly, sit in relaxing neon-colored cushion and ergonomic chairs, and kick back and relax on any of the stepped timber platforms that ar enow housed in the former industrial space. Any of the call center employees are able to log-in from anywhere within the 40-meter X 70-meter area (about 131-foot X 230-foot), and have a choice to work either in a lounge-style bean-bag chair, or at a desk.
Even though the interior space of the building took most of the budget, the result was deceptively sleek-looking, as they were modified in a very cost-effective way due to MVRDV aiming to reducing any unnecessary costs. For example, instead of ornating the building’s façade with expensive and flamboyant flash, it was wrapped with QR code prints that direct smartphone users to current trends and events. MVRDV’s goal with the building was to keep jobs local (not outsourcing them), create community involvement by including an education center, project incubator, fitness center, and a community gallery space. Again, like the Palencia Civic Center, this just proves another again how architects are able to do so much with an existing building, from little (like the exterior) to more intensive (the interior).