We are an architectural design firm based in Tokyo. We believe that the creation of space has a strong influence on its users. We call this an Authentic Experience of Space. We believe that this experience of space is a new form of luxury.

van der Architects was founded in Tokyo in 2001 by Martin van der Linden. Martin is a Dutch architect and studied architecture in the Netherlands (Maastricht University), Japan (Tokyo University) and the U.K. (London South Bank University). In 1992 Martin worked For Hiroshi Hara on the Kyoto Station and the Interconnected Umeda Sky Scraper in Osaka. He also worked for Cesar Pelli’s Tokyo office. He established van der Architects in 2001.

van der Architects believes that architecture is about movement within space. We design spaces that take full advantage of our mobility and by doing so create an architecture that offers an immersive experience with constant changing views. We work with light, reflection, shadow, colour and silence. We believe in a sustainable approach to design and our project for an international IT company is one of the very few projects in Japan to have been awarded LEED GOLD.

Space and mobility
The French philosopher, Merleau-Ponty said that space exists because of our mobility. I believe that architecture should always have this start, a promise that unfolds around us while we move through space. In the beginning, architecture is nothing more than an enclosed space, a container of, and for activities. As such the start of architecture is rather pure and simple. But then, on a different level, there is another, higher promise of contextual sensitivity: our experience of the space.

Our experience of space has always been filtered through the context of space. But also the context, ie the immediate surrounding, the geography, the climate, the weather, light, and the contextual materials have always had a limiting factor in the creation of space. Initially, architecture was created out of its immediate surrounding. The hut is build from the trees, the mud, the grass or stones that surround it. And as such, early architecture, grouped as a collection of house or a small village shared a kind of contextual sameness. Examples of which we can still see around the world.

Due to technical advances, the limiting factor of the context is becoming less and less the dominant factor in our spaces. When it is dark we switch on the light, when it is cold we switch on the heater.  Construction has allowed us to create our own context. We as architects today are free to build anything, anywhere in almost any shape that we can dream off. It is ironic that despite of the technological freedom, the hotels, office towers, shopping malls, restaurants even the houses and apartments people around the world live, eat and work in, all start to look alike.

Maybe we have forgotten that there is a sensitivity to our context that creates and shapes our identity through these spaces. Human beings, and animals too, have are highly sensitive to space. And maybe we feel lonely, sad, angry, loveless or generally depressed because our inability to be in touch with this deep need to connect and retreat within a space we can call our own.

Architecture is the ability through construction to create possible worlds. However, I think that architecture should be a manner of looking at the context again and reinforce the unique contextual elements that are there. The uniqueness should not come from the shape of the space, although this could be an element of the design as well, of course. I think that uniqueness should look at the context as a starting point. Architecture as such will act as a modal filter of the context and will help to create a space, which while we walk through it helps us to create an experience that will in the end become our identification with this space..


What are WorkVitamins?
There is a good reason why offices have such a negative image. Rows and rows of identical, dull, lifeless workers bend over desks. Cubicles 1.8 - 2meters high filled with paper and stuff. Even if someone would have suffered a heart attack, the chances are he or she would not be discovered, until the second of third stages of decomposition. One feels pity for those having to spend 2/3 of their life in these interior labyrinths of global or aspiring global, commercial empires.

Mission Statement
Company leaders often don’t realise that the office, the work environment is a materialisation of what a company stands for. The office is a literal translation of their company culture. Forget about mission statements, forget about glossy company brochures, forget about inspiring slogans on banners or posters of well-groomed, sun-tanned, politically correct, beautiful people, shaking hands or jumping with sheer joy about the next big business break-through they pretend to make. The office,  says more about a company’s corporate culture psyche than anything else.

WorkVitamins is a methodology that I have developed over a period of more than 10 years. Starting from research I conducted while working at Waseda University, here in Tokyo, Japan. The basic idea is two fold: first, my research has made me realise that what people say about their working needs and what they actual do (their job) are two completely and often contradictory things. And secondly, by addressing the gap what we see what workers do and and what they said they do we create a conceptual basis for the design of the new work environment.

Design by itself means nothing. The design of an office environment, just like any other design should have a meaningful conceptual basis. This too, one often forgets in designing the office. The reason is that from a functional point of view, the design is might seem very simple, but it is more than an equal sum of employees to chairs with tables.

It is easier for people to understand a simple, clear concept. This concept is the integration of a company’s business vision with their vision of what their workplace should represent. This is the basis of WorkVitamins.

Martin van der Linden