Red Bull’s Amsterdam Digs Embody Its Play-Hard Culture

Designed by Sid Lee, the office splits the difference between work and hard-core fun.

Most offices nowadays strive for a balance between private and public space, but few strike it as well as Red Bull’s Amsterdam headquarters, designed by Sid Lee Architecture. Located in a rehabbed shipbuilding factory, the office puts the brand’s ethos of leavening work with a little fun on full display.


According to Sid Lee, “Red Bull Amsterdam wanted to move to a more urban location that would better reflect its culture and involvement in the arts and sport.” The Austrian company sponsors extreme sports events and invests in nurturing young music artists, so Sid Lee chose a space on a redeveloped waterfront of the Noord district, nearby MTV Europe and a skate park. “Our idea was to combine the almost brutal simplicity of an industrial space with Red Bull’s mystical invitation to perform,” reads Sid Lee’s press release.

Inside, the designers built geometric boulders, which, containing flexible niches and shaped like ship hulls, break up the semi-public areas and refer to the site’s history. The simplicity of the layout and forms is contrasted with playful graphics borrowed from Red Bull’s culture.

To extend the theme of duality, Sid Lee incorporated solitary creative spaces into social areas–juxtaposing a closed recording studio with an open playground–while creating a feeling of openness in meeting rooms. One such conference area is enclosed in a perforated metal box, whose mineral texture gives it the look of a meteor that’s fallen to Earth. “It is as much a kind of symbolic extraction from an open space as a tribute to Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner’s unprecedented performance consisting in jumping 120,000 feet to try to achieve the first supersonic free fall in history.”

But the finest reflection of the office culture is no doubt the restroom, where bold graphics express the employees’ “holy shit list,” the craziest things they want to do. And judging from Baumgartner’s insane stunt, we’re guessing walking a roller coaster didn’t make the cut.


About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.