A niche, with inbuilt novelty, is required for ‘innovation’ to take birth!
AECOM, the industry-leading firm; formed by united dreamers from the fields of engineering and architecture; in partnership with Tebodin, has created the same while designing the space for the research and development center of Heinz at Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The scope to drive high levels of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among the high-caliber recruits of Heinz, which was the presupposition of the client, is inhabited in the vibrant showcase building of Heinz Innovation Centre.
AECOM is a multidisciplinary setup, presently headquartered in Dallas, US, that offers a wide range of services which are well recognized for years, not only in the field of Architecture & Design but in Construction Management, Engineering, and Environmental Services. As they emphasize, it is a company that works with the belief that infrastructure creates an opportunity for everyone by uplifting communities, improving access, and sustaining our planet. While at the Heinz facility at Nijmegen, this approach of theirs seems to be resonating through the spaces designed for innovation!
A southeastward drive of around one and half hours (127 km approx) from Schiphol Airport, takes one to the masterpiece, built for the purpose, by a well-known brand in Nijmegen. It is Heinz’s largest R &D facility outside the United States, which is located in close proximity to the European ketchup and sauces factory (Elst Gld) and of course in the heart of the Dutch ‘Food & Health Valley’. In the region that carries the tag of ‘European knowledge center’ in the field of nutrition and health, the Innovation Centre offers a state-of-the-art research and development environment, not only with the high-end facility of an ultra-modern microbiological lab but a sensory center for consumer panels.
About Spatial Planning of the Centre
A building with identifiable three storeys wrapped in glass sheets with insulative property to control the heat gain within the space, stands with an elegant visual, on the canvas of a precisely manicured landscape around. A facade with slick, rigid, black frames holding the glass sheets and quite overpowering massive verticals on all three levels showing subtle folds that reflect shiny shades of gray in the bright sun having single storey height placed at certain intervals, forms a dynamic elevation. Pastel tints of green and yellow band bordering the lower edge of the upper floors (which reminds the Rubik’s cube!) add a pinch of spice to the whole composition. The transparency of the facade endorses the promise of fair practices by Heinz and in turn, strengthens the bond they have made for years in the food industry with their customers and the employees as well.
The underlying idea of having three separate landscapes for creative works i.e. labs and office space, public interaction i.e. testing, and an actual production area i.e. pilot plant respectively, is materialized by dividing the activities within three floors. The facility spread over around 800 sq m is encompassed in three levels and merges the boundaries between technical space and workspace with sensible and thoughtful spatial planning to achieve a collaborative and innovative environment for research and development. A three-story large atrium housing a main staircase connects all three storeys physically as well as visually. Standing in the atrium gives a clear insight of the interactive ability of all the spaces, activities, and in turn people on all three levels thus creating a promising ambiance for the brave expressions!
A visual archive of Heinz portrayed on ‘Wall 57’, a nineteen-meter-long featured wall showcasing the historical timeline of the brand on the ground floor, designed by AECOM and curated by Acrylize, greets the visitor with fascinating graphics that strongly emphasize the innovative approach of the brand and thus the space thrives in achieving its intent. Amalgamating art with architecture, the wall is nestled in the reception area and showcases the unique and inspiring story of the brand. Through five divisions, the wall portrays Heinz’s five piers of innovation i.e. packaging, production and distribution, marketing, iconic products and recipes, and the brand philosophy. To bring these foci together on a common plane, Acrylize took inspiration from the iconic and recognizable Heinz logo while designing a wall layout using the famous Keystone shape. An intricate network of 57 ‘windows’ is weaved by overlaying the logo multiple times. Each of these windows conveys interesting facts about the brand. Facts those celebrate the piece of history associated with Heinz and facts those quickly connect a viewer with the present role of Heinz in their life too!
Right from the tomato seed and ketchup bottle, the household fork and fridge, to the iconic advertising imagery from Heinz’s archives, the wall makes a visitor wander through a mesmerizing trail of the brand’s multifaceted journey.
Connecting the spaces..
The ground floor space that guides users from the entrance to further levels, has a flexible character. The spaces like cafe and restaurant which are tactfully connected by an exhibition and display cooking facility are housed here. The meeting suites when fully opened can form a large ground-floor space. The well-articulated combination of a squat and slick seatings positioned on the way adds to fluidity instead creating any barriers in the movement.
The main workspace that incorporates a working area for teams, quiet study rooms, and enclosed conference and meeting rooms are located on the upper level of the building. Ample natural light, flexible furniture layouts, and overall soothing interiors can best describe the space.
A vivid graduation from vibrancy to a pacific yet lively ambiance!
While entering the building, the impression of dynamic exteriors is carried to a vividly vibrant ‘wall 57’ compelling one to pause and appreciate the visuals that begin the wonderful journey from the reception area. While moving through the further spaces on the ground floor the gentle change in the character of the interior space could be felt that making one halt and experience the activities or exhibits at respective locations. While moving upwards through the main atrium the scope and canvas of the space and facades broaden and convey the more serious yet happening spaces and activities accommodated on upper floors.
The most valued employees’ of Heinz are moving with a natural ease and grace that is offered by a thoughtful spatial arrangement. The workspaces placed on the floor, though have inbuilt vitality reflected by the color schemes as well as furniture typologies, and an easy merger with neighboring activity areas, are wisely uncoupled from the probable hustle and bustle of the ground floor movements through a well-articulated space planning.
For the food brand that has created a great impact on the food industry and its gourmet customers with its unique taste as well as bold and significant presentations, AECOM has designed the one of its kind space in the form of the Heinz Innovation centre at Nijmegen. The centre, overall, offers not only satisfaction to the taste buds of curious visitors but a vibrant platform to nourish the innovative expressions of highly efficient employees Heinz!
AECOM, n.d. AECOM. [Online]
Available at: https://aecom.com/
[Accessed March 2023].
Pegram, S. a., n.d. Salt and Pegram. [Online]
Available at: http://www.saltandpegram.com/heinz-innovation-centre
[Accessed March 2032].