Entirely in line with centralization of the various Philips departments on the High Tech Campus, Philips Design has also left its location in the centre of the city. After viewing several buildings, the choice was ultimately made for one of the second-generation NatLab buildings dating from the early 1960s. WD Building, which was actually on the list to be demolished, was saved at the last minute as a result. Not only did Philips Design acquire a new location on the campus, it also had to make the switch to the WPI (Work Place Innovation) concept, the Philips standard for flexible working.
The distinctive building dating from 1961 consists of a single storey of more than 5,000 m² with a patio in the middle. During the design process, the building was already stripped and all the prefab partitions and ceilings were removed. A beautiful steel skeleton appeared, with a variety of paint colours, accumulated through the years from changes in function. The roof, which consists of visible concrete cassettes, completes the industrial look and feel. The floors also turned out to be special: large areas of parquet in a neat herringbone design spread throughout the building like a patchwork quilt. It was soon clear that these discovered qualities held a great deal of potential.
The ultimate design attitude could be described as 'what-you-see-is-what-you-get'. The steel skeleton, the concrete ceilings and the wooden floors were kept exactly as they had been found. The existing structural brick walls were painted in a warm grey colour. By subsequently adding all the new elements in a recognizable colour and detailing, it remains for ever visible what is old and what is new. Together with the comfort added by the new interventions, the industrial appearance and the superscale of the existing building have resulted in a unique working environment that is more than the sum of its parts. It is an ideal work and production space for a creative company like Philips Design.
The existing building structure turned out to be eminently suitable for housing Philips Design's functional programme. For instance, the access structure consisting of a middle corridor ring has been retained in a less rigid form. By adding a new 'cloister' round the existing inner courtyard, a diversity of walking routes through the building is made possible and short communication lines are ensured. The inner garden, which had been neglected for years, was rearranged and so the patio once again became the heart of the building. The large open atelier spaces acquired a logical position around this patio, with a large degree of internal transparency as a result. The more closed functions have been given a place in the outside ring next to the façade. In the heart of the building, adjacent to the patio, is the 'Breakout space', which functions as a meeting plaza for employees and visitors, who may be coming to follow a workshop in one of the spaces specially designed for this purpose.
The lead time of the project was extremely short; both the design and implementation were completed in a period of approximately a year. This required an alternative project organization. Intensive workshops with Philips Design gradually provided input for the design process. While the building team was meeting every week, demolition and construction were already taking place on site in the meantime. The tight schedule demanded a vigorous hands-on mentality from everyone involved.