Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

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Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Amsterdam studio Sander Architecten designed cardboard meeting rooms inside a bank in the Netherlands.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Giant cylinders of cardboard and paper enclose meeting rooms inside the headquarters for financial services advisor Rabobank.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

The multi-ply cardboard is layered to create textured patterns on the surface of one cylinder.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Translucent Japanese paper covers a second cylinder, as well as the springy lanterns that surround circular skylights.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Timber screens and furniture fill the surrounding open-plan areas.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

This is the second project this month to feature paper or card, following a cardboard labyrinth at the Serpentine Gallery - see all our stories about cardboard here and all our stories about paper here.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

See also a bank with faces in the walls and another resembling the Amazonian forest - click here to see all our stories about banks.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Photography is by Alexander van Berge.

Here's more information provided by Sander Architecten:


Sander Architecten stretches the boundaries of the modern office.

Amsterdam firm Sander Architecten completed the Square of Rabobank Nederland headquarters. Rabobank selected Sander Architecten out of a group of twenty to create and supervise the execution of the entire interior design (56.000 m²), including the twenty-five-storey building.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

As the office interior is being redefined by the introduction of new methods of working, interior architecture is facing new challenges. In today’s work environment, the emphasis is on cooperation in teams and group dynamics; people go to the office for the social aspect more than anything else.  To realize this ambition, we view the building as a modern city. After all, the city is where individual freedom and spontaneous interaction are all-important.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

The effectiveness of this concept is visible on the Square, located at the plinth of the new office building. Employees and visitors work, eat, read, and meet one another in a diverse landscape.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

The ‘buildings,’ separate spaces with different functions, join up with the uncluttered grid of skylights and slim columns. The new style of working is based on freedom, trust and taking responsibility. In the client’s view, its employees are all entrepreneurs, responsible for their own performance in an environment free of fixed rules, fixed times and fixed locations.  The work spaces are tailored to specific activities: multi-person meetings, face-to-face meetings or a place to write a report with maximum concentration. Each activity has its own space.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Click above for larger image

In nature routes are formed naturally; people intuitively find their way. Architect Ellen Sander was seeking that naturalness, that ‘flow’. The busiest routes automatically formed around the cores with the lifts and staircases, beyond which more peaceful zones naturally emerged. Moreover, the psychological concept of ‘flow’, the moment when need, desire and ability come together, connects the employee’s sense of happiness with an optimum result for the employer. The guiding principle for the interior design therefore became ‘form follows flow’. To enable flows vertical partitions were avoided so that the horizon would always be visible. ‘The office is my world and the world is my office.’

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

The design was generated by cooperation with a number of other designers. The Square on the plinth could not turn into a monotone, homogenous space. Diversity is required in order to stimulate people, and despite the enormous scale of the building, people are not left wandering around lost in sterile areas.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Click above for larger image

The meeting pavilions designed by Sander Architecten are made from washi paper and paperboard. In combination with the Chinese lantern from washi paper suspended from the skylight, a distinctively tactile experience is created. The paperboard pavilion, which features attractive patterns created by the different uses of the material, is particularly inviting to touch.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Sharing art with the city

The wall annex glass display case is the centrepiece of the Square, and features On the departure and the arrival, a work by Chinese artist Ni Haifeng. The vertical museum contains porcelain objects including scissors, a bottle of Glassex and an iron, each painted in delftware style. The work is featured in the interior, too, with stills and a film about ‘the making of’ on view in the area behind the case.

Rabobank Headquarters by Sander Architecten

Click above for larger image

Client: Rabobank Nederland
Interior Architect and supervisor: Sander Architecten (Amsterdam)
Gross floor area: 56.000 m2
Completion: December 2011

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    A bank… made out of cardboard…

    Kind of sending a mixed message to the clients, don't ya think? Then again, I always knew our economy is barely sustained by spit and glue ;)

  • zee

    Fabulous. Minimal material, maximum effect.
    Projects like these make me believe in design again!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3006675 Alex Tseng

    there is something novel about a bank looking like a beautiful food court rather than like an institution.

    it would be better if some thought was put into the desired light and sound transmission for each of the semi-enclosed spaces and the density of the corrugation that would produce these effects. it currently appears like the architects did have the desire to vary up the densities, but they just ended up mashing them together in one space. i wouldn't want someone overhearing how much money i have in my account (or lack thereof).

    • http://www.sander.nl yvonne modderman

      Dear Alex Tseng,
      all meeting rooms (they are closed) are provided with sound insulation of 37 dB.
      all meeting rooms have light from above and require standard of 500 lux.
      sander architecten

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3006675 Alex Tseng

        i should have seen that in the sections. (which are beautiful by the way).

  • Daniel Morel

    Thank you for providing me with awesome articles than make my lunch break less pathetic.

  • godfried

    @Alex Tseng,

    These pictures are from the headquaters of the bank, there are no customers that come here to talk about how mucht money the have in their account (or the lack thereof).

    I think it’s an awesome design! Hope to see it in real life once…

  • zeemmee

    AWESOME, Excellent design & execution!

  • rev. dave

    Who is going to vacuum the dust out of all that corrugation? That's where the bank's profits will go… into vacuuming.

  • nicole

    elegant and friendly atmosphere. And beautifull. I like it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451844838 Wwdezygn Waxz

    What about dust & humidity?

  • christina

    conceptual thievery! this has been done before… quite a few times actually. hopefully they used a fireproofing otherwise everyone is going up in flames…

    not to mention the ridiculous amount of cleaning it requires. this is great for a temporary exhibit, but not for a full time office.. especially a space for public use.

  • http://www.less-en.org Robert de Jong

    Great example of a building maximising natural materials and the use of natural light. It would be interesting to know what the energy and carbon savings are for the materials used and the area usage in comparison to a similar area?

  • Peter

    Fantastic example of what happens when architects and megalomaniac board members create a building to please their own ego. From facilities management perspective this is ridiculous and irresponsible.