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© Lucas van der Wee


Architect: Fokkema & Partners Architecten Photo credits: Lucas van der Wee


The former ‘Lieutenant General Knoop Kazerne’ has been transformed into State Office ‘de Knoop’, a contemporary office building with additional representation as a central meeting hub for all Dutch Central Government Ministries. To house its new users in a transparent and inspiring environment, the original military compound with a closed structure was stripped completely. The virtues of the old construction with its wide octagonal concrete columns were reinterpreted in the design to offer intimacy and character: a profound counterbalance to a bright and daylight flooded new atrium. At the FRAME Awards 2020, State Office ‘de Knoop’ was awarded the people’s vote for the Governmental interior of the year, thanks to its user-centered design.

The new state office ‘de Knoop’, comprises an old building hull and a new building extension with a connecting atrium. The complex is wrapped with a rhythmic new glazed facade with vertical articulation and strongly embedded in the urban fabric. Precise logistics throughout the building and clever separations allow the building to meet high-security standards and a great capacity for adaptations in (future) use.

Voids, balconies, and staircases make a continuous sequence of spaces in the new Government Office building that was created in collaboration with Cepezed and Rijnboutt. The interior offers a customer journey that centers on users’ needs. This ranges from the open, buzzing environment at arrival, to the restaurant, the break-out areas and social hubs, and which becomes increasingly more personal towards the working domains, with the workplaces and small meeting areas.

The working domains are mainly situated in the characteristic existing building structure. The floors are now interconnected with new voids and staircases. Anchor points provide a meeting hub on each floor and are strung together with routing like a string of pearls in a necklace, each anchor point slightly different in order to do justice to the representation of the various users. In the conference center, situated in the new construction, open areas are defined along with the voids and staircases. These can house up to 300 people to informally connect before and after meetings. Its color schemes refer to the four seasons.

Trees and plants are integrated into the design, while views of the city’s landmarks provide orientation. The integration of art and every detail up to the graphics of the wayfinding was designed with a meticulous passion to create a truly integrated design. Studio Drift made an enchanting design for the installation above the coffee bar in the connecting atrium.

Reshaping the past into the future
Oftentimes eighties buildings get destroyed because of the limited ceiling heights, poor build quality and closed character. With the adding of voids and staircases a newfound spaciousness was created with far-reaching sightlines and open floors. The connection of voids to a new atrium gave the formally introvert building an extrovert feeling while the transparent and fresh identity of the interior also seamlessly connects it to a new building part.

The old structure with its characteristic columns is now an asset, and by designing a special climate system, ample height is ensured in the office areas. Details like the exposed raw concrete against the smooth glass surface of the new elements and facade, emphasize the fluid merge between old and new. The materialization scheme was kept simple, the cool concrete of the existing building is contrasted with warm hues of wood and fabrics, never compromising on transparency.

Complex project parameters
The Dutch Central Government Agency commissioned the design, construction, and operations to the consortium R Creators after an extensive bidding process. They are contracted to finance the transformation with an exploitation phase of 20 years, making them responsible for maintenance and operation. This made for a complex field of stakeholders, various users, and strict government requirements.

Although the Programme of Demands consisted of 21014 requirements - relating to functionality, safety, acoustics, climate, sustainability, and aesthetics - the team managed to realize the extremely high ambitions while creating the most comfortable and welcoming working environment. According to ‘Centre for People and Buildings’ it is one of the most appreciated Dutch Government Office Buildings to work in and the interior was awarded a prestigious FRAME Award.