Client: KIT Royal Tropical Institute
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The KIT Royal Tropical Institute was facing the challenge of a lack of interaction within and between its departments, as well as with the guest tenant organizations inhabiting the same building complex. KIT was established in 1910 and has since gone through a challenging history of having to relocate frequently, therefore having to protect, re(establish) and maintain its identity each time. For this reason, we were invited to re-establish unity, embrace the diversity and enhance interaction through optimizing the workplace design. Together with the building’s community, we had a series of conversations to identify explicit and more implicit challenges. Also, observation on flows of people through the space and levels of interaction were identified. Amongst other issues, a lack of communication within and between KIT departments and between other organizations, was identified. All in all, the workplace’s quality and distribution affected the level of engagement, unity and productivity in the community.
So, “How can we create ‘One’ KIT as the organisation, and ‘One’ KIT with the entire building complex characterized by changing guest tenant organizations, while also strengthening KIT’s own organizational identity?”
As a result, for KIT’s core team, a centralized private office was designed and assigned, which is not accessible to guest tenant organizations. Within the same floor, common smaller areas were created in order to enhance the interconnectivity between the organizations, therefore creating a platform for interaction. These common areas were placed in areas where it was previously identified that flows of people crossed through that specific place frequently. Additionally, it was essential to design the space in a way that it would communicate the designated use and functionality of the different areas, clearly and subtly. For this reason, two color schemes were used consistently throughout the building for the interior elements, to communicate – without having to resort to signage or people – the distinction between KIT’s private areas and the common areas.
After a space is almost completed, we do not leave but we invite people to actively start using the space. During this time, we observe their behavior and verify or falsify the previously identified challenges and assumptions. This adapting phase is dedicated to ensuring that the space embodies the community’s culture and does in fact actively support and serve the ever-changing needs of the people using it. In addition, KIT also received additional recommendation regarding potential future risks related to changing future needs and challenges, the adaptability of the space, technological developments, the company’s culture and potential developments in behavior were incorporated in this document.
We phased KIT’s design process by designing per space, in order for people to stay within the building and only having to move to a different area of the building temporarily. The interior items were also ordered in phases, to save money, time and resources. All in all, this made it possible to not only order more items if truly necessary, but also align our process with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) KIT upholds.