Site visit: Delen Private Bank Antwerp – 20/10/22

A lot has been said and written about Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and Customer Value Proposition (CVP) but we wanted to show how flawless EVP and CVP could look like and what it does to visitors or staff. That’s why we gladly took the opportunity to host this event in the brand new HQ of Delen Private Bank on the Jan Van Rijswijcklaan in Antwerp. 

On October 20 our employee/customer experience event took place at Delen Private Bank in Antwerp.

A lot has been said and written about Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and Customer Value Proposition (CVP), but we wanted to show how flawless EVP and CVP can look like and what they mean for visitors and staff alike. 

That’s why we gladly took the opportunity to host this event in the brand-new HQ of Delen Private Bank on the Jan Van Rijswijcklaan in Antwerp.

Nowadays, almost every company is aiming for efficient and multifunctional work environments, but for Delen Private Bank it’s all about personalization and a warm/welcoming feeling.

IFMA SUSTAINABILITY EVENT

Already when entering the building underground you feel this is not an ordinary business environment: extra-large parking spots, music, indirect lighting simulating natural day light combined with art photography in light boxes, … all of this to let staff/customers feel at ease.

Customer / Employee experience model

Already when entering the building underground you feel this is not an ordinary business environment: extra-large parking spots, music, indirect lighting simulating natural day light combined with art photography in light boxes, … all of this to let staff/customers feel at ease.

“To make it easy” is the first pillar of the Delen customer experience. It is also the reason why the bank has invested a great deal in digital tools and apps for their customers to follow up the status of their assets and investments. The building, too, has been created in order to provide the highest level of comfort (hospitality, catering for staff, work environments, chill out zones, …)

Furthermore the Bank is doing a lot to get to know their staff and customers (second pillar): what are their motivations/needs, what do they expect,… Not only are there customer relationship managers, but data mining also helps a lot. Since data is so important, Delen decided to build their own datacenter in the garden of the main building so they can manage, protect and work also offline if necessary.

The third pillar is “Value me”, which means helping customer and staff to reach financial, career goals, etc. Delen Private Bank does this on one hand by inviting their customers often to their offices or events to keep them updated and on the other hand by spending much time in deciding where to invest in for their clients.

Last pillar is “Protect me”. Not only are there always security guards in the building but the data as well is strongly protected since hackers try on a daily basis to get in the system and create damage for clients, staff, the bank or Ackermans en van Haaren (the mother company).

Architectural experience

After this introduction done by IFMA Board Member Jan-Maarten Van Damme and a technical/data insights presentation from Yannick Vandecappelle (Digital Innovation Architect and Data Strategist at Delen Private Bank), Frédérique Lippens (other IFMA Board Member and ir architect/owner of LOFT22 architecture) focused on the architectural experience:

Frédérique extinguishes 3 levels of architectural experience:

  1. In the EXTERIOR experience one of the most important aspects to be considered as an architect is the CONTEXT. This demands an equilibrium between respecting the existing character and creating a contemporary quality. This was illustrated with their (LOFT22 architecture) own project BRUUR in the historical city center of Antwerp, where they inserted a modest volume in the urban tissue. The materialization and articulation of the building refer to the historical environment but has its own modern elements at the same time. That way past and present come nicely together, which is very important in the architectural experience from the outside. This was also to be seen very beautifully in the Delen building: new inserts are done in order to let the old tangle of townhouses function as offices. In this case they’re not hiding being contemporary, but in their transparency and sobriety they tend to be humble (contrary to the architect’s name Bold) towards the existing.
  2. The EXTERIOR-INTERIOR experience encompasses the architecture from the inside, whereby the ext/int interaction is very important and was one of the main goals in Le Corbusiers’ theory about the ‘PROMENADE ARCHITECTURALE’. This comprised teaching people how to experience his buildings by suggesting the circulation through the space and in the first place by taking the movement of the inhabitant into account in the design process from the beginning onwards. It is during the wandering, moving from one space to another, ‘se promener’, that one sees developing the architectural interplay. A nice example in this matter is LC’s Villa Savoye. The play of circulation and movement, back and forth, getting surprised by architectural elements and by sudden views through the building and towards the exterior, all of this forms the experience. We also witness this at Delen, where you can continue walking through the building, triggered by the different inside and outside views, the play between old and new and the contrast between openness and intimacy.
  3. This brings us to the third level: INTERIOR experience, which can be interpreted as the cohesion between interior architecture and the interior design itself. An interesting concept regarding this is the ‘GESAMTKUNSTWERK’. The definition of the latter is ‘the ideal harmony of arts’. In architecture this means that the architect seeks to make a whole of his creation. Décor and design make one organic ensemble with as goal stimulating the quality of life. A beautiful example given is the Nietsche Archive by Henry Vandevelde, where the interior was designed as perfectly detailed part of the architecture. Which is very clearly present at the Delen ‘house’ as well: the ideal combination of arts, the homely feeling, the spaces with different atmospheres, created by the meticulous decoration by the family Delen.

This is closely related to and in fact one of the fundaments of the ‘customer experience’ that is high on Delens’ agenda.

Visit of the building + art tour

To really experience this ourselves we did a very nice tour of the 11 private townhouses that are combined into 1 building with a capacity for 300 staff + 18 meeting rooms (all differently decorated), a newly constructed underground parking with 150 places and a park. 

This huge transformation only took 2 years (during Covid) which is a huge achievement for the team and Thierry Sichem (head of project development) who took us for a tour in the building.  The façade of the building and the rooms at the street side (mainly the rooms to invite clients in) are protected and were renovated with the highest care. The backside of the building was replaced by a modern construction with a beautiful view on the garden (mainly for the staff). Who says a renewed building says… sustainability. Extra isolated glass, solar panels, recuperation of rain water, a system to pump rain water in the soil of the garden, smart heating and ventilation systems, building management systems,… also on this field, the standards are very high for the bank.

As told design and decoration is everywhere in the building. Since the Delen family are huge art lovers (they are main sponsor of the newly opened KMSKA museum as well as the Brafa art fair), they collaborated with 3 Antwerp galleries to decorate the entire building and to organize even an art expo “85” (in reference to the world expo held in Belgium in 1958 which marked the start of a new Belgian post war art scene ànd since the Bank exist for 85 years). So during the visit, we also got a very interesting art tour by the gallerists of Callewaert-Vanlangendonck gallery who explained the history of Belgian abstract art and some examples like Guy Vandenbranden (famous for paintings made with car paint), Paul Van Hoeydonck (the only artist with a sculpture on the moon – this is not a joke), Jan Dries (marble artist who worked in Carrara),…

After the tour we were treated to an incredible walking dinner and networking moment to close the evening.

The experience we got during the visit was sometimes overwhelming (in the positive sense) and not all organizations have the same means to work on their Customer/Employee experience but this visit was nevertheless very inspirational with enough concrete take-aways for all attendees.

Up to the next site visit!

With special thank to Delen Private Bank.

About the authors

Frédérique Lippens, Engineer Architect, LOFT22 architecture

Frédérique Lippens, Engineer Architect, LOFT22 architecture

Frédérique is founder of LOFT22 architecture and LOFT22 art space. LOFT22 architecture is a creative design agency for overall concepts and cross-over projects (architecture-interior-art-antiques-objects),always looking for a fine balance between respecting the existing context/character and punctual out-of-the-box interventions.

Photo by Ringo G.J.

Jan-Maarten Van Damme, KPMG

Jan-Maarten Van Damme, KPMG

Jan-Maarten Van Damme is a Senior Manager People & Change within KPMG Belgium and board member of IFMA Belgium. He is passionate about the interaction between human/built environment, workplace strategy, Talent management and change management.

In a previous career he was responsible for soft facilities and customer experience at a multination and so does speak business’ and follows up trends and theoretical models.

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