In August, the headquarters of design agency VanBerlo are moving into the Innovation Powerhouse at Strijp-T. The previous power plant of Philips is a place with a rich history, it breathes innovation and connection and it marks the ambitions of a company that is far from done growing. CEO Thomas Paulen of VanBerlo: “Moving to this new location is a breakthrough.” The power station, a monument for the city, was designed by architect C. Last. The property is being transformed into a modern business complex by Atelier van Berlo, Eugelink Architecture and De Bever Architects with respect for past and future.

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“The Innovation Powerhouse is exactly this: open, focussed on cooperation. Totally VanBerlo.”Thomas Paulen, CEO VanBerlo

Open innovation will be the guideline is the Innovation Powerhouse. As opposed to VanBerlo’s current housing on the Beemdstraat (De Hurk) there will be a front door that is shared with other companies. “A business complex is consistent with the phase which VanBerlo is currently in”, says Paulen. “Co-creating and cooperating form the foundation of the design agency. The Innovation Powerhouse is exactly that: open, focussed on cooperation. Totally VanBerlo. And all made possible by the efforts of our employees and relationships. I’m incredibly proud of that.”

 

To stimulate open innovation the spaces in the building are arranged flexibly. Think about places where you can work on projects with customers, partners, and universities. There are also common rooms for informal sessions and presentations and rooms in which user tests, hackathons, scrum and sprint sessions can be held. Paulen: “An appropriate place that gives a huge boost to the company and the people and that creates a lot of creative energy.”

 

The goal is to create the spaces and the ambiance where all sorts of disciplines come together to work on projects together. And if face to face cooperation isn’t possible, the connection is made through video. “We’re flying out from our base, but we also invite the world in the Innovation Powerhouse.”

 

Many projects of VanBerlo are confidential, so how does open innovation work then? “Reconstructing user scenarios offers the solution in that case”, says Paulen. “That way innovation issues of customers are dealt with and answered.” Opening up – that is the new way of working to make projects successful, according to Paulen. “To come to real solutions, a connection is needed: the exchange of information, creativity but especially also innovation power. That all comes together in the Innovation Powerhouse.”

Artist’s impressions (c) Atelier van Berlo

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.