Project: Office Space for THNK – school of creative leadership
Project Team: Rob Wagemans, Tobias Koch, Ruud Davidse, Isabelle Bronzwaer
Location: Plantage Middenlaan 45, 1018dc, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Photo Credits: Wouter van der Sar
THNK is a school for creative leadership in Amsterdam. Its goal is to develop leaders capable of delivering innovative solutions for the world’s greatest challenges. THNK is written without an ‘I’ because, according to the company’s ethos, working together is necessary to solve the problems that our society faces. Concrete designed an office space that embodies this communal spirit: a place where people can come together to brainstorm, create and empower each other.
The third location
THNK was founded in Amsterdam in 2010 and since then, Concrete has designed three THNK headquarters. The company moves offices every few years by using interim locations: this reflects the idea that a change in environment encourages a change in mindset. The design has naturally evolved because of the new locations and the transformations undergone by the workplace in current times. The new location is at the Artis Amsterdam Zoo, in the Plantage district.
THNK employees and visitors can admire the zoo’s exotic animals and luscious gardens from the windows. The building was built in the nineteenth century and it used to be the library of the zoo, where rare books and documents were collected, including some letters written by Charles Darwin. Because of the heritage status of the building, its interior has been preserved. The space is made up of one room with a linear, rectangular configuration. There are very high ceilings, interrupted by a mezzanine that allows one to walk around the entire perimeter.
THNK employees need to use their office space in many different ways. Therefore, Concrete designed a solution that combines all functionalities into one spatial element that is flexible in use. The playful wooden sculpture is stand-alone and can be re-adapted to new locations and functions. The element offers spots for people to work individually or in a team. THNK often hosts presentations and workshops with larger groups of people. For these events, the presentation area, which is part of the element, can be adapted: wood benches on wheels can be easily relocated, stacked, or even stored away to make more space.
Sustainability is an important value of THNK, thus the interior is adaptable and multi-functional. The wooden furniture piece can be disassembled and moved into parts to a future office, leaving no permanent trace. Most of the furniture is recycled or upcycled. Tables from the previous location are used again, and the chairs got a second life by being reupholstered.
“Our design for THNK embodies their communal spirit and need for flexibility, with a playful wooden intervention that combines all functionalities. Natural colors, tropical plants, and recycled furniture contribute to the liveliness of the space. It’s a unique and adaptable environment that inspires innovative leadership.” – Tobias Koch, project architect
Materials and colors
The space is characterized by natural, toned-down colors: white walls, an antique wooden floor, and a lot of daylight. The furniture piece is made of light wood, with pops of color in bright red and cobalt blue, characteristic colors of THNK. Large plants contribute to the liveliness of the space and make the office feel tropical. After all, giraffes and flamingos can be seen from the windows. The umpire chair in the center of the space allows one person to tower over everybody else, to be seen by a crowd, or to observe from a distance. It invites people at THNK to change their perspective, literally.