Innovation up to the ceiling

Kuehne + Nagel, a logistics service provider operating worldwide, is receiving plaudits both inside and outside the company for its new Innovation & Development Center in the Dutch city of Utrecht.  Creating an optimum acoustic environment was top of mind.


About Kuehne + Nagel

The publicly traded logistics company manages over 7 million square metres of storage space in 100 countries. It employs 2,700 people at 23 locations in the Netherlands.

Inspirational space

Kuehne + Nagel’s new premises in Utrecht occupy the former head office of Douwe Egberts, a coffee and tea producer. The fourth floor was to be assigned various functions. The idea was to turn it into an inspirational space for training staff, holding meetings and receiving clients.

The first drawings, commissioned by the property developer from an architect, were rejected. “That design was rather traditional,” says Paul van der Heijden. “It was based on a large space for flexible working. Other than that, there were various areas off a central corridor where training courses and meetings could be held. All very run-of-the-mill.”

Visual contact

Kuehne + Nagel decided that interior architect Jacco Bregonje was the right man for the job. His ideas did resonate with the company. The result is a large, open reception and presentation area bisected by a meandering partition between the private and public spaces. The partition has glazed sections so that visual contact is maintained between the spaces. The layout is streamlined and modern, with white walls that can be used as magnetic boards or whiteboards. Meanwhile, the couches in the reception area, the open fireplace, the TV screens and the wood-pattern floor create a homely atmosphere.

Final innovations

“The result is a unique space that is perfect for receiving clients with a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine,” says Paul van der Heijden. “Technically, everything is top-notch: a touchscreen to centrally operate the lighting in each zone, separate climate control for each area, and a large screen for giving presentations and training courses. The space reservation displays interface with Outlook. There are also some great gadgets, such as a 3D printer, a drone, and 3D glasses that allow staff members to take a virtual roller-coaster ride intended to acquaint them with the latest innovations.”

Optimum acoustics

A lot of attention has been paid to creating an optimum acoustic environment – an important aspect, since hundreds of courses, meetings and training sessions are held in the space every year. That makes it especially important for people to be able to hear each other properly. Staff members can concentrate better and are less likely to suffer from fatigue.

Kuehne + Nagel asked Ecophon to come up with some ideas. This resulted in the installation of special ceiling panels that combine outstanding sound absorption with modern and sustainable LED lighting for the various meeting and presentation spaces. These Philips|Ecophon Soundlight Comfort Units™ are suspended in the form of ceiling islands, so that the building’s various pipe and cable systems remain visible. “That too is in keeping with a logistics company – it gives the space an industrial look,” notes Paul van der Heijden.

The Ecophon Master™ Matrix system has been installed in the public areas. This system is suitable for settings where high coverage is required but a wall-to-wall ceiling is impossible or undesirable.

Paul van der Heijden concludes: “We’re delighted with the result. The acoustics have turned out to be ideal. Everyone’s enthusiastic. The fact that the spaces are constantly occupied says it all.”


 Watch video - the creating of acoustic comfort at K + N



Text: Aliëtte Jonkers
Photographer: Ingredient Media


 This article is from the magazine ECO for Sustainable Design - Office edition. If you enjoyed it and want more similar articles, read the full magazine online or download it to your iPad or Android tablet for a more interactive experience.