Starbucks Experiments in "Laboratory" Store in Amsterdam

© Rien Meulman

Three years ago at Greenbuild, Starbucks corporate architect Tony Gale described the company's new Global Store Design Strategy, and said "we like to do different things in different regions, to reflect what is going on in the local culture." Since then they have been rolling out prototypes in different "bio-regions"; TreeHugger previously reviewed stores in New York and Toronto. But their new Amsterdam store, Starbucks: The Bank, is a far more radical departure.

© Rien Meulman

For one thing, it is huge, at 4,500 square feet. It is an adaptive reuse of a former bank, and attempts to "respect the architecture" of the historic building. From the press release:

And while all the design and constructions adheres to strict Leed® sustainable building guidelines to reduce the impact on the environment, the designers have gone out of their way to integrate repurposed design. In addition to reclaiming the vault’s exposed concrete and 1920s marble floor, the entire shop is kitted out in repurposed Dutch oak – the benches, the tables and the undulating ceiling relief made from 1,876 pieces of individually-cut blocks. Also a radical departure from Starbucks house style are the various types of chairs and stools, reclaimed from local schools and spruced up.

© Rien Meulman

Under the direction of Dutch-born Liz Muller, Starbucks Concept Design director, more than 35 artists and craftsmen have kitted the subterranean space with quirky local design touches and sustainable materials. Local design details include antique Delft tiles, walls clad in bicycle inner tubes, wooden gingerbread biscuit moulds and coffee bag burlap, and a ‘tattooed’ ‘Delftware’ mural highlighting the important role 17th century Dutch traders played in exporting coffee around the world.

© Rien Meulman

Nice touch: newspapers, raw concrete, delft tiles.

Coffee has been in the Netherlands since 1616; they have been going to coffee shops since 1664; the Dutch know their coffee. The press release concludes: "Starbucks The Bank doesn’t feel like an American coffee shop in Europe. For the Dutch, it feels very close to home." In the Toronto review, a skeptical commenter called this "localwashing", trying to appear less corporate and imitate the vibe of local independent shops. Perhaps it is, but it is still the right thing to do.

Tags: Coffee | Green Building | Netherlands