From the dawn of time, no matter if they were constructed out of primitive materials, buildings have always been a means to provide a comfortable space for those who dwell inside.
As years have past and our technology has advanced, every component that makes up a building has evolved and improved, allowing for truly amazing control over factors like lighting, security, heating, ventilation entertainment and more, allowing them to create structures that defy our current understanding of architecture and push the boundaries of imagination.
Here in Kenny Slaught’s Blog, we normally comment on famous classical buildings that are what we commonly know as architectural “wonders”. They are without a doubt, truly magnificent works of art that will forever live in history as the greatest architectural achievements of their time. However, for this article, we will focus on a modern day architectural wonder that is equally amazing on the outside as it is on the inside.
The Edge is a building in Amsterdam that consolidates all the city’s employees working with the consulting firm Deloitte. London-based architects PLP Architecture designed the 40,000m² office building and it was developed by Dutch firm OVG.
The Edge has received the world’s highest BREEAM rating (98.36%) awarded to an office building, which technically makes it the greenest building on the planet. The design is highly sustainable and so technologically advanced that it is also dubbed one of the smartest buildings ever built as well.
This building is the most practical and complete representation and example of what the Internet of Things is supposed to be and how it should operate. Everything begins right from the way you access The Edge.
Employees are connected to the structure by using their smartphones. They all use an app that tracks absolutely everything they do when they work or the company. From the moment you wake up in the morning, the app begins your day by providing you with your schedule and upon arrival, it communicates with the building to give you access to your vehicle by recognizing your license plate.
The app helps you find a parking space within the inside of the building and that’s where the magic begins; there are special spots where you can charge your electric car for free during your workday. There are also dedicated areas for bicycles since they are quite common amongst people in the Netherlands.
Finding your office is another easy task using the app on your phone, especially because you don’t have an office. Actually, nobody has an office at The Edge. You work area is assigned daily depending on your work schedule and the openings available. The app can help you find an open conference room, a small workspace by a window, a concentration cubicle or you can simply hang out by the lobby and work under the beautiful atrium that lets in all the natural light. This concept of “hot desking” is one of the most innovative concepts used by the company in order to better use the space and promote a more Earth-conscious culture. The practice allows Deloitte to have close to 2,500 workers sharing only about 1,000 desks. This not only makes sense operationally, but it also promotes interaction and new relationships to form amongst employees.
The thick concrete beams that support the building also help regulate heat and the deeply recessed windows make it so light doesn’t come in directly eliminating the need for shades.
Solar panels cover the roof and the south-facing wall of the building in order to better receive the exposure of the sun. These panels harness enough energy to power the building, charge the electric cars, computers and smartphones of all the employees. The building is energy positive and it uses about 70% less electricity than other buildings its size. It also uses two deep wells to store water using thermal energy for conversation during the summer.
Rainwater is collected and used to flush the toilets and irrigate the gardens. The building is designed to nearby populations of bees and bats can thrive and uphold pollination around the vicinity.
Ethernet cables power lighting and all systems are connected and able to be controlled by the computers and the personal apps of each employee. Rooms “know” your lighting preferences and adjust accordingly when you enter. Your phone can connect seamlessly to any of the HD displays found all around The Edge allowing you to show presentations and content anywhere in the building without using any cumbersome cables or complicated connectors. The app even knows how you like your coffee.
The building even has a small robot that patrols the area at nights and helps security staff identify any real threats or false alarms that may occur.
The edge truly is a modern day architectural wonder.