Interview with Harrie Kuijper, Arcadis director of Infrastructure
Only a stone’s throw away from Amersfoort station, you will find the biggest European office of Arcadis. This globally operating design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets has had its home here for many years. Arcadis has recently fully redesigned and refurbished its home base with an eye to the future.
‘A new impetus at our Amersfoort office?’ Harrie Kuijper, Arcadis director of Infrastructure repeats my question with a smile. ‘You can say that again. And you might as well add: ‘open up’.’ Open up? Kuijper: ‘Sure! This is our interpretation of the New World of Work. Just look around you, the entire building has gained transparency. Closed rooms have all gone. Everything has opened up, and everywhere you can see what’s happening. The building’s character is entirely open. Our people are free to move around.’
Arcadis has taken to Amersfoort like a duck to water. The refurbishment followed immediately when the lease of their premises was extended on Piet Mondriaanlaan 26. This location, close to the railway station, fully suits the Arcadis vision. ‘It’s the company’s objective to have our offices as close as possible to a railway station, so our people need to travel by car as little as possible’, says Kuijper. ‘We owe that much to the society in which we operate. We may be spending more on our square metres, as such locations are more expensive, but what we get back is sustainable mobility. Our business relations often tell us they appreciate our location so close to the railway station. It’s always a plus.’
Ties between Arcadis and Amersfoort have been very warm for many years. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Amersfoort branch of the global company has grown into one of the biggest and most important ones in Europe. This is where all of the organization’s internal divisions are represented: the environment, water, buildings and infrastructures. Amersfoort is now the home base of 950 Arcadis staff. ‘It has historically grown to be such a centre’, says Kuijper, who has himself been based in Amersfoort since 2000. ‘The city’s accessibility – certainly by train – has also attracted people from the country’s north and east. And from here, we can service national clients such as Rijkswaterstaat and Prorail. You see, the railway station and the superb central location are the main reasons we are established here. But Amersfoort has always been the stronghold of our branch and the centre of our discipline. That’s why we fit so well here.’
Amersfoort: both modern and classic
Kuijpers, born in Alkmaar and living in Putten, calls Amersfoort ‘a modern city with a classic touch’. ‘I like to take colleagues from other countries to the city centre so they get to know Amersfoort’s classic heart with the hustle and bustle of its attractions. And it’s all very close to the new part of town, Eem Square, with its cinema and contemporary shopping facilities. It’s these differences that give this city an extra edge.’
Improving quality of life
With branches in various continents, Arcadis is a leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Kuijper: ‘Our tagline is: improving the quality of life. That’s really the guiding principle in everything we do, ranging from infrastructure to the environment. We cover a very wide range of projects: we produced a basic design for Amsterdam’s Zuidas while we were also involved in one of the world’s biggest airports in Turkey. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Great fun.