Beautiful Buildings: The Edge

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The Edge, Amsterdam, is possibly one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world

Good design, especially in architecture, begins with the people. The Edge, Amsterdam, is perhaps a building that epitomises the connection of a construction and the people within it in the 21st Century.

Smartphones are one thing, but with advances in technology a whole array of smart devices are being built into new homes. Smart lighting, smart heating and even smart kettles are making their way into our everyday lives. But why is this relevant to The Edge?

The Edge has been coined as the first smart building. It knows where you live, what car you drive, when your meetings are and even how much sugar you like in your tea. The future of efficient office user space has arrived. Deloitte Accountancy wanted a new headquarters, so opened up a design competition to various architecture firms. The London based PLP architects won — on the basis of their magnificent layering of technology and great design. The “nucleus” of The Edge is the main atrium which fills the whole centre area up through all 13 floors of the building. This grand space acts as an amphitheatre: a social hub for employees to wait for meetings and eat at the small cafe bar whilst offices and their balconies overlook the action below.

The Lenticular Cloud art installation by Geert Mul, suspended in the atrium

Work at The Edge has been completely revolutionised by the seamless integration of technology within the building. Employees can arrange to work anywhere depending on their day; their calendars sync with the building’s database and can reserve the required rooms. Furthermore, with just a scan of the phone employees can control all the features in their designated room: from the lighting to the television for presentations, and even the ambient room temperature.

In The Edge, employees no longer have assigned desks. This allows them to work anywhere in the building in varying levels of introspection or sociability: there are work-booths, focus rooms, concentration rooms, sitting desks, standing desks, balcony desks, along with the many workstations within the sun-filled atrium itself.

PLP Architects

Meeting tables such as these are dotted around The Edge so that employees can vary their working environment

You might assume that such a technologically dense space would come at a cost to the environment, however this assumption could not be more wrong. The Edge is a completely self-sufficient building, with over 50,000 sq ft of solar panels across its site that are shared with the VU University of Amsterdam. With the world’s highest office building rating of 98.36% being awarded by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the global assessor of sustainable buildings, The Edge combines numerous smart technologies with sustainable methods of power generation and the some of the most efficient and forward-thinking energy-saving technologies ever seen in the built environment.

Further to the solar panels, the slanted roof funnels rainwater into large stores that use the water to flush toilets and for cleaning inside the building. The car park is located under the building so as to reduce the site’s footprint. Inside, a whole wall of car parking spaces are dedicated to electric vehicles and there are large areas for bikes. Instead of banishing bikes and electric cars to the unnoticed corners of the car park, they are the focal point of parking, encouraging employees to use sustainable transport.

Whilst the design of The Edge is stunning in itself, with large open office spaces and an office-friendly floor plan that aids the flow of employees, The Edge is an example of how technology can enhance the workplace. Instead of letting technology take over work, it’s clear that we can use data to enhance our work lives and make smaller tasks such as finding a space to work in just that little bit easier.

The Edge is an example of how buildings can be beautiful not just by design, but beautiful in their very nature and purpose.