The new construction for the Menzis health insurance company is situated at the interface of the city of Groningen and its Europapark urban expansion. At city scale level, the construction expresses its iconographic character toward the urban circular and the A7 motorway, the Europaweg. At ground floor level, the street alignment is determined by the Europapark, where the building, as it rises, gradually leans over into the street space.
The 12-storey building is divided into three identical prismatic segments, each of which has been turned 90° in relation to its predecessor. With dimensions of 43 metres x 43, the segment is characterized by functional yet aesthetic compactness. Each segment contains four storeys, intersected vertically by an atrium. As a consequence, a spiral of atria is generated, forming an internal response to the dynamic exterior.
The foot accommodates the public functions, which are oriented toward the atrium and include service desks, an insurance shop, and a healthcare service centre. A doctor’s room and several consulting rooms are situated in the more private area. A practical system of partitioning divides the third and fourth floors into meeting rooms, a library, training areas, an auditorium, and a restaurant. The restaurant area can also be deployed flexibly as extra meeting space if required. The spacious staircases, which allow easy public flow through the atrium to the restaurant and meeting centre above, offer an unimpeded view of both the inner area and the water of the Winschoterdiep (canal).
The middle and upper segments are generic. The specific presence of the atrium, which allows the incidence of daylight into the building, contrasts with the neutral substantiation of each storey. The atrium divides each storey into various series of working areas with distinct qualities: peripheral or secluded, light or well-shaded, open or closed. The variation in spatial conditions enables the application of diverse office concepts, geared to the different work processes within Menzis, such as the call centre, administrative functions, and staff functions. The atrium stairs facilitate informal contact between the storeys.
The aluminium façade panels, with their specially developed metallic colours, are enamelled. The protruding and receding façade strips reinforce the play of light and shade. The horizontal structure and the variation in bronze tints accentuate the dynamic character of the volume. In combination with the use of natural materials, the magnolia garden around the building, with its diverse terraces, water features and illuminations, contributes to creating a pleasant and relaxed ambience.