Ellen Sander, Principal architect and supervisor, Radobank in Utrecht, Sander Architecten, The Netherlands.

Sander Architecten designs cardboard meeting rooms for a bank

Sander Architecten has created giant cylinders of cardboard and paper to enclose meeting rooms inside the headquarters for financial services advisor Radobank in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

It includes multi-ply cardboard, layered to create textured patterns on the surface of a cylinder, translucent Japanese paper on a second cylinder, and springy lanterns that surround circular skylights. Timber screens and furniture fill the surrounding open-plan areas.

“The collaboration with Ellen was professional and fantastic. An intensive project like this one included difficult moments, but we always managed to find a solution. For example, Ellen used the existing top lights in the plinth to the utmost advantage. They mark and illuminate the various meeting pavilions. She knew how to make the best possible use of the existing space,” said Piet van Schijndel, board member, Rabobank.

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.

“In an office whose scale is unique, even by European standards, I wanted to merge all the various components and key elements of the interior design into a whole: Kraaijvanger Urbis architects ’building, the values of Rabobank and the Rabo Unplugged new style of working,” said Ellen Sander, principal architect and supervisor, Sander Architecten.

“To get a handle on the complex material we were dealing with, we first wrote and presented an interior vision. It is quite un­usual for a client like the bank to allow you the time to do something like this – it testifies to the kind of quality client they are. Rabo Unplugged is based on freedom, trust and taking responsibility. In the bank’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 pace. If you observe a river, you experience the difference between the leisurely outside bend and the fast-moving inside bend. In nature routes are formed naturally; people intuitively find their way. I was seeking that naturalness, that ‘flow’.”