The city of Dijon and Teletech International have chosen MVRDV to transform a disused Dijon Mustard laboratory completed in 2004 into an innovative call center with an education center, incubator and social program. For MVRDV it represents an exemplary project: Transformation through reuse is one of the contemporary issues in European architecture since the current crisis. Completion of the 6,000-m² refurbishment is planned for 2012.
The disused building is a former Unilever Dijon mustard laboratory and closed in 2009. The building is in a good state but due to its wide volume not suitable for traditional work spaces. The construction budget is too low to exchange the facade or make serious alterations to the structure. A fine balance is needed between intervention and intelligent re-use of the existing.
The Teletech call center which will occupy the building has rush hours in the morning, afternoon and early evening, only at these moments the building will be fully occupied by its workforce. For these short periods work places can be used which would not be suitable for eight-hour shifts. For this reason the former mustard factory became an interesting alternative to a more traditional office space.
The transformation strategy is adapted to this irregular use of the building. The inside is turned into a work landscape and the 600 young call center operators will have flexible spaces: they can log in anywhere they want inside this work landscape. Different qualities such as silent, open or secluded places are offered. The way young people often work, with a laptop on the sofa or bed, was an inspiration for the interior design: the space needs to appeal to the operators to work the way they like, the space will be informal and furnished with homely objects to provide a fun and creative working environment.
A big window, sky lights and a large atrium are used to create a community feeling and allow daylight to penetrate the 40 x 70 meter volume. As these interventions use up a large part of the budget other parts had to be designed as economically as possible. The facade for example will not be exchanged but transformed with a simple print of a flashcode translated into the activities of the company; the facade will act as communicator and signal the transformation. The ground floor contains parking and cannot be inhabited as the building is located on a flood plain.During off-peak hours, the call center operators will have free time in which they can make use of the education center, a gallery and projects incubator, also located inside the building.
MVRDV sees this transformation as an exemplary project for contemporary European architecture in times of the current crisis. How to reuse a building which is structurally in good shape but not suitable for a traditional tra