Client: Rijksgebouwendienst (Government Buildings Agency), Den Haag
Location: Ministry of VROM (Housing, Spatial Planning, and Environment), Den Haag
Can a piece of furniture serve as an area at the same time? This is a question Remy and Veenhuizen have concerned themselves with for a long time. The answer can be found in the new staff restaurant area at the Ministry of VROM (Housing, Spatial Planning, and Environment) in Den Haag (The Hague). The first thing you notice on entering is a several metres long scroll of wood, which starts as a table and ends as a couch. The space in between, during the day filled with tables and seating units, can serve in the evening as a screened off attractive space for staff gatherings. In this way the starting point: combining different functions in one area, has literally taken shape. The scroll serves both as a visual element and as a construction. The same goes for a wall unit separating the smokers from the non-smokers. This unit consists of different elements, among which pieces normally found in a cupboard like cups, plates and books. This combined with glass panels ensures that the smokers part still remains part of the area. It is much more a sense of separation than an actual partition.
The staff restaurant area is set up as a large playfield and comprises next to the smoking area, an eating unit, sitting unit and a lying unit. With their design Remy and Veenhuizen wanted to offer the users a way of release from formal office proceedings. It is therefore possible to watch television from the couch, and brightly coloured sitting units which can be connected and arranged by the users are scattered all over the area. The eating table also evokes reaction. In the wooden tabletop several recesses were sawn. The left over pieces were taken out, placed at a lower level, and serve as seats. Since the dimensions are rather limited, the eaters are forced to make contact with their neighbours. In the smoking area, the couch resembles a train compartment and smoking together becomes an intimate experience.