Name: The Edge
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
It knows where you live. It knows what car you drive. It even knows how you take your coffee. It’s perhaps the most fully realised vision of the Internet of Things the world has ever seen. Welcome to the Edge, the most efficient office space ever constructed.
Located in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam, the Edge is a 40,000m² building occupied by global financial firm Deloitte. The innovative space, which combines energy efficient and smart technology, was recently given a 98.36% sustainability score from British rating agency BREEAM – the highest ever awarded.
By using the latest smart technology, the Edge generates more energy than it consumes and its architects have created adaptable and intelligent workspaces. This permits an entirely new way of working, dubbed het nieuwe werken, and represents an exemplary model office of the future.
A typical day in the life of a worker at the Edge
Thanks to an innovative smartphone app developed by Deloitte, from the minute an employee wakes up they are connected to the Edge. The app is able to consult the user’s schedule and figure out what kind of workspace they’ll need for the day, be it a sitting desk, work booth, standing desk, meeting room, or concentration room.
When arriving by car, the building recognises the employee by analysing a photo of their license plate. The app then guides them to an available parking space. A separate garage for bicycles and free chargers for electric vehicles are also provided. Once inside, the app guides the user to the workspace it has found based on their schedule.
The building is connected by a huge network of 40,000 sensors and super-efficient LED panels, creating a digital ceiling that can be adjusted to meet employee preferences. Workers set their lighting and temperature preferences using a gauge on the app. Then, the valves in the pipes above their head adjust accordingly to help create an ideal environment for the worker.
When it’s time for a break, workers can head to one of the coffee bars where espresso machines remember how they take their coffee. Other functions of the app allow employees to find colleagues, manage gym routines and order fresh ingredients to take home when the workday is over. All desks are equipped with built-in wireless chargers so phones rarely run out of battery.
The Edge incorporates pioneering sustainable design
Every single architectural feature of the Edge is designed to generate or conserve energy. For instance, it is shaped in such a way that the power of the sun is optimally utilised. The glass facade allows the flow of natural light without the heat of the sun influencing inside temperature. The roof and southern wall are equipped with solar panels that harness enough energy for the heating and cooling of the building, plus all laptops, smartphones and electric vehicles used by employees.
The Edge also harnesses the power of humans. Employees are encouraged to use the on-site gym to break for a midday workout. Some of the exercise stations are actually able to generate energy from workouts, sending hard-earned watts back to the grid.
The building uses a sustainable heating and cooling system. Two groundwater sources, one for hot and one for cold, are stored 130m underground. Using self-generated solar power, these “aquifer thermal energy storage pumps” flow water in or out of the building depending on temperature conditions. Each ceiling tile has a large coil of blue piping that delivers water from the building’s subterranean water storage for radiant heating and cooling. The system developed for the Edge is the most efficient aquifer thermal energy storage in the world, according to Robert van Alphen, architect and project manager for the Edge.
The innovative features don’t stop there. Rainwater is harvested and used to flush toilets and irrigate the greenery inside and surrounding the building. Thicker glass is used to dampen noise from the nearby motorway. Data collection allows managers to monitor how many employees are present, enabling the temporary closure of unused sections and cutting energy costs. An ecological corridor between the building and motorway has been created to allow animals and insects to cross the site safely. The list goes on.
Never before has an office offered its residents a personalised experience on this level, and with such focus on sustainability and energy efficiency it is one of the most intelligent buildings ever built. The future of office design has arrived.