With Funhouse Office, MVRDV Turns A Punishing Job Into A Joy [Slideshow]

MVRDV, the Rotterdam-based architectural firm responsible for such gravity-defying projects as a barn balanced on a hill, has won a much quieter commission: the conversion of a defunct Dijon Mustard ?laboratory?–your guess is as good as ours–into a call center for a French teletech company. The goal: Make workers with one of the most monotonous jobs in the universe actually want to come into the office.

It’s also an effort to retain jobs in France.

Taking a cue from the dorm-style approach to office design famously typified by Google’s headquarters, MVRDV will transform the interior into a flexible, sprawling ?work landscape.” The 600 call-center operators will be free to roam, logging in from wherever they choose, instead of being penned in by cubicle farms. They can sink into beanbag chairs with their laptops during busy hours and make use of a gallery and an education center during their free time.

Completed in 2004, the banal structure, vacant since 2009, is perfectly serviceable but in need of a face-lift. MVRDV’s clever, budget-minded solution is to splash an abstract flash-code pattern across its skin. Inside, the motif is carried over into a lobby with retro Pop overtones. (See slide 5.) Elsewhere, skylights and a large atrium create a happy, sunlit interior.

According to a press release, Teletech hopes that investing in a “qualitative work space” will indirectly improve customer relations and help it “attract, teach and keep high level profile employees on site.” In other words, it’s also an effort to retain jobs in France commonly shipped offshore.BL