May 16, 2023
Sneek is the watersports capital of Friesland, best known for its snaking canals and hosting the largest sailing event on inland European waterways. It’s also home to Vripack’s new studio, just one block away from its original premises 60 years ago.
Perched on the edge of the Houkesloot canal like a symbolic boathouse of ingenuity, the two-story building – once a financial bank – has undergone a significant five-month refurbishment to transform it into Vripack’s new headquarters, with the move date scheduled for early June 2023.
“It’s taken a decade to find premises of the right size and location, as we wanted to repurpose a pre-existing building to be more environmentally friendly,” says Vripack’s co-creative director, Bart Bouwhuis. “By selecting the old bank with very thick walls and a solid construction, we’ve been able to update an already energy passive building.”
A key requisite for the progressive yacht design studio was for one large open-plan space where the entire team of creatives, designers and naval architects can work together on a single level.
“We found that even being on two floors in the same building can hinder collaboration,” says Marnix Hoekstra, Vripack’s co-creative director. “An open-plan environment enables a unique level of teamwork that strengthens our holistic design approach. It’s a manifestation of our human centric design philosophy and a creative melting pot from which cutting edge design can be achieved.”
The open-plan area is located on the ground floor, along with the old bank vault whose thick steel doors have been retained as an original feature. Once used to protect patrons’ gold bullions and financial assets, the vault is now used as one of five breakout rooms where Vripack’s 40-strong, multi-disciplinary team can welcome partners to collaborate on fresh ideas.
On the second floor, there is an extensive 100sqm material sample lab equipped with specialist lighting, a dedicated sustainability section and a 16sqm ‘VR Cave’ where clients can step into a fully immersive and realistic world of virtual reality to experience the designs firsthand.
A glorious rooftop terrace, equipped with an all-important wood fired pizza oven, overlooks the city and passing boats below.
“The new offices have been designed around delivering an exceptional client experience, both for owners and shipyards,” says Bouwhuis. “Not only will we be able to better deploy our expertise in a space designed to enhance our way of working, but our interlinking meeting room, sample lab and virtual reality area will allow owners, shipyards and suppliers to be fully immersed in the world of Vripack design.”