The new Brussels headquarters of insurance giant AXA is not a classic head office. Set in a light-filled building surrounded by greenery, it’s more reminiscent of a 5-star hotel than a multinational.
The extensive spaces on the ground floor, for shared offices and meeting rooms, make way for a large area with catering services intended not only for employees but also outside guests. They include a cafeteria, delicatessen, pizzeria corner and a grill and boulangerie. For corporate events there’s also a high-end brasserie offering a wonderful view over the gardens of the nearby Royal Palace.
The foodservice is provided thanks to the use of three different kitchens, one for large-scale production, a finishing kitchen and an open kitchen designed ad hoc for the à la carte brasserie menu.
- AXA needed state-of-the-art kitchens. “Ambach is one of the very few companies in the world able to make them with the 3 mm tops further reinforced with 3 mm of steel. In order to best meet the client’s needs we had no doubts about the choice”, explained Jan Vyverman, general manager of Metos, the Ali Group company chosen by AXA for the impressive project.
- “Secondly, it was important to work with a supplier on the same wavelength as the company and its values. Once again Ambach was found to be the most appropriate choice thanks to the vast focus on the client and the ability to create completely custom-made, ad hoc solutions”, added Vyverman.
- The most complex challenge of this project was the open kitchen. “AXA wanted something radically different from the classic staff canteen”, explained Vyverman.
- Ambach’s extreme flexibility enabled three custom-made solutions to be created for three completely different kitchens. “The special feature of a company like Ambach is the great ability to supply everything, from the central kitchen islands designed and made to measure for the most demanding of chefs to equipment intended for production on a vast scale such as that of hospitals and canteens”, underlined Vyverman.
- For the kitchen situated in the basement and used for canteen service Metos chose the robust and high-performance Ambach System 900 line. The kitchen is made up of separate areas for preparing hot and cold dishes and is equipped with cold rooms, bratt pans and pressure and induction cookers.
- On the upper level the open kitchen represented a more complex solution. A custom-built block from the Ambach System 700 was designed, with its considerable length of 4.4 metres which perfectly fits the size of the room. “We couldn’t use the standard System 700 block as it had to be 1300 mm deep instead of the standard 1400 mm”, explained the Ambach area manager, Georg Dissertori. For this reason we had to create an extension on the back and a custom-made base unit”.
- Despite the fact the benchmark line was the System 700, the open architecture of Ambach and its great flexibility enabled a plancher from the System 850 line to be installed with larger cooking surfaces, perfect for meeting the high productivity needs of the chefs. The team also wired all the electrical connections for the whole block into a single connection point.
- The smaller finishing kitchen on the first level is from the System 850 Ambach modular line, complete with hygiene joint.
- Given the complexity of the project, the excellent team work by the architects, engineers, design office, general contractor and the subcontractors was crucial for the success of the project. “It was interesting to see that we were all well trained”, recalls Vyverman. “We worked together to achieve a truly excellent result. Everything went very well and, when work had finished, we were all surprised at the result. Often projects look great on paper, but then in fact turn out very different. In this case the exact opposite happened”.