The way that we work in 2020 doesn’t exactly mirror how we did fifty years ago, and yet so many of our workspaces don’t reflect that change. That’s what the founders of the series of the epic co-working spaces Fosbury & Sons, Maarten Van Gool and Serge Hannecart, grasped when they began their endeavor in 2016. Since then, they have opened several co-working locations in Brussels, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. Their latest space, along the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam, has just opened its doors located in one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
The Prinsengrachtzeikenhuis was built in 1845 and served as a hospital up until 2012. In its later days, although beloved by locals, it lacked the facilities that were necessary for medical treatments of the 21st century. For the past five years, the building has been meticulously rehabilitated by the architectural firm MVSA Architects and re-designed into a co-working space by Going East. “Our task was to transform the building into a spot where you would want to work and be,” said Anaïs Torfs and Michiel Mertens of Going East. “We wanted to eliminate that hospital feel.”
The design firm took in the original feeling of the building and was especially inspired by its courtyard. “The history of the building combined with its peaceful courtyard had an Italian Palazzo vibe,” they said. “So everything we added had to subtly relate to that idea. The selection of marble in a variety of colors, the dramatic ceilings, the chalk paint, and the theatrical art all communicate this concept.” They commissioned Sarah Yu to create dramatic and large-format artwork for various spaces including the boardroom, upstairs bar, and foyer.
As for the selection of materials and furniture Michiel and Anaïs were focused on contrast: “If we chose a red marble custom made table, then we went sourcing for vintage wooden black chairs.” In the private offices, they installed new herringbone parquet enclosed by industrial-style galvanized glass doors. In addition to pairing varying materials they also wanted to pay homage to some of the original features: “In one of the small rooms there were the little tiles that you see know in every bathroom of that era, we took them home and went searching for ones that were similar but updated,” they said. “Now, everyone that enters the lavatory thinks that they are original.”
Without changing the layout of the building, the designers of Going East transformed Prinsengracht into a working space that inspires you to meander through workrooms and offers flexibility – read a book, grab a drink at the bar, or have a meeting in the gardens. It sounds like the perfect place to tackle any to-do list.