Rotterdam Factory Attic is Converted to Offices

When a company splits, so do its offices.

View of Attic
Sonia Mangiapane via V2com

Remember margarine? The stuff we used to eat because we were told it was healthier than butter? They have been making it in Rotterdam since 1871, but then it fell out of favor with the public. Unilever, which made a lot of it, spun off its margarine division as a separate company, Upfield, and sold it to equity fund KKR in 2018, which then needed a new spread. They found it upstairs in the attic of the old Unilever building.

Office area
 Sonia Mangiapane via V2com

JDWA (Johan de Wachter Architecten) designed the formerly unused or underused spaces to "represent the company's ambition to work differently. Next to a large number of workstations, different types of formal and informal meeting rooms are realized. Because of the special kind of work Upfield does, also kitchens and tasting counters are part of the program."

The Attic is in the old brick building.  Sonia Mangiapane via V2Com

The Attic is in the oldest factory building on the site (and has nothing to do with the glass thing running over the top). "A number of walls without historical value have been demolished, this creates more possibilities for a redesign," notes JDWA. "The meeting rooms have been designed as furniture pieces with functions like telephone booths, repro spaces, product displays, and space for technical installations integrated into the walls."

looking up stairway
Looking up the stairwell. Sonia Mangiapane via V2Com
"Sustainability has been a main issue during the design process. Through intensive reuse and transformation, the building use has been optimized. The various interventions in the existing, intensive renovation of the building's exteriors and the new interventions in the interiors will extend the life of the buildings. The buildings continue their life with a new layer of character added to the historical layers."
offices in attic
Sonia Mangiapane via V2com 

Some of the tile roof has been replaced with glass to provide views over the river. The architects note that "a contemporary office has been created without losing the historic character of the building."

truss and handrail exposed plywood
 Sonia Mangiapane via V2Com

I really like the look of the exposed plywood everywhere, but do wonder how it will stand up to greasy margarine-covered hands with all those test kitchens and tasting counters. I know people will wash their hands, but there is not much margarine for error.

seating and phone booths
Seating and phone booths.  Sonia Mangiapane via V2com

But seriously, Treehugger loves adaptive reuse, and all that warm plywood stands out against the white of the existing structure. More photos and information at the JDWA website.