Identity, function and design are all combined at Booking.com
August 7, 2023
From the Northern Lights to Panama and beyond, Booking.com’s impressive headquarters will take you to all four corners of the world. Together with the design team, I came up with an interior that suits this successful tech company to a tee. The challenge? Bringing together the needs of various kinds of users in one functional design, without losing sight of Booking.com’s character. We managed to do so – due to productive consultations with all the stakeholders, over 10,000 employees now feel at home on Oosterdokseiland.
One of the unusual things about this project is that several design firms joined forces to work on the interior of the Booking.com complex. That is why the occupants of and visitors to the complex will come across various design styles throughout the building. We did not want this variation to be at the expense of the harmony of the building as a whole. That’s why the various parts of the building were given a clear theme or ‘destination’ beforehand. Take, for instance, the meeting area, which makes you feel like you’re in a Moroccan bazaar, or a meeting place that you find in Rio de Janeiro. We were given the task of designing the first floor, the boardroom and eight breakout rooms – which all have their own unique atmosphere.
Booking.com approached us because we know their organisation well: we’ve worked together a lot and we know what suits them – and what doesn’t. For instance, the new headquarters has a prestigious look and feel because it is an international hub. But at the same time it is in keeping with the character of the company: efficient and accessible, with a no-nonsense attitude. When I’m working on a design, I always try to reflect the client’s identity in the interior. It’s all about creating something that fits the client, without imposing our own style on them.
One storey, several functions
Our past collaborations with Booking.com came in handy, particularly on the first floor. It’s got quite a complicated structure because it houses three different departments: Recruitment, Learning & Talent and Research. These are completely different departments of the company, with various requirements, all in a part of the building that’s challenging when it comes to designing the interior. Those two elements turned it into a complicated puzzle when it came to including everything into one design. The overarching theme for the complex as a whole is ‘Booking Home’: a new base for all members of staff, where everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. Achieving this was quite a challenge, but we were one hundred per cent successful.
The first step towards success: discussions with Booking.com. How much space is needed, what is the function of the rooms, who are the users? The next step involved drawing up the terms of reference based on the information provided. Only once those were crystal clear could we start working on the design. Discussion and design went hand in hand during the project, so that we could cater to all the various user requirements. Recruitment and Learning & Talent call for an inviting entrance, for instance, whereas Research benefits from an environment that is as neutral as possible. It was a question of weighing things up, trying things out and making sure things fit.
On the road with Booking.com
At the end of the day we managed to find the best possible solution for each of the departments. This is where all the various functions of the floor come together nicely: the atmosphere is inviting and appealing to job applicants and newcomers, while the research team can work in a peaceful and subdued environment. The Recruitment Department got extra attention in our design because of its central location. Because Booking.com’s headquarters are its showpiece, it was crucial that the interior design was inviting and would draw visitors in. We chose ‘travel’ as the theme, with a different environment playing the leading role each time. As a result, members of staff and visitors encounter one another in the city, on the beach and in the jungle.
Designing side by side
This project demonstrates that if the client, occupants and consultants communicate and consult each other properly, it’s possible to come up with a design that suits everyone – even in a complex environment. What contributed to this is that we were all given the opportunity to put our ideas into practice. That’s how we were able to think of a captivating interior design. This is not only reflected on the first floor, but also in the breakout rooms and boardroom: you step into a completely different world at each ‘destination’. We worked side by side with several design agencies to achieve this. It meant that we could see each other’s progress at all times – which was a special and fantastic experience. The close collaboration at several levels is what makes this project so special: the entire interior really is a co-production.
The pearl of the Oosterdok
If you ask me, Booking.com’s new home base is one of the world’s unique and most challenging office projects. From an architectural perspective, the complex is a real eye-catcher in the centre of Amsterdam. Throughout the entire headquarters, visitors are treated to wonderful views, both of the city and the interior. That spacious feeling plays a key role in all our designs, and you can really experience it. The end result is amazing – I am extremely proud of what my team has achieved!
Project detailsClient: Booking.com
Lead Interior Architect: HofmanDujardin
Project management: CBRE
Workplace Consultant: CBRE
Area designers: CBRE Design Collective, HofmanDujardin, i29, Linehouse Design, Studio Modijefsky, UNStudio
Layer designers: MOSS, Mijksenaar, Powerplant, Scholten & Baijings, Studio Rublek
Photography: Stijn Poelstra, Matthijs van Roon
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