FANUC Benelux HQ: an industrial office design with a human touch

With over 260 service locations in 108 countries world-leading factory automation company FANUC reached out to Alternativ to design their brand new Benelux HQ in Mechelen, Belgium.

After doubling its revenue and staff in just below five years, it was high time for FANUC to move into an office that would fully reflect their status and development.

Warm’ industrial design

FANUC Benelux CEO Paul Ribus was envisioning a space that would make his employees feel at home and inspire visitors with a contemporary design and the latest technologies. “We were looking for a concept with different sections, each with their own look and feel: from playful and relaxing to more business-like,” Paul explains.

For a design and build company like Alternativ, FANUC’s request was somewhat unusual. After all, the ‘build’ part of the project was already in full swing when the team came on board. Nonetheless, Alternativ came up with the right concept: a design that would both highlight the museum-like character of the huge FANUC building while maintaining a sense of warmth and connection. Similarly, the design seamlessly merged the opposing worlds of the industrial robotic arms that the Japanese group is best known for and the human touch that FANUC Benelux was after.


Alternativ created 3D imagery to communicate their vision to Paul and his team, who were especially impressed with its out-of-the-box mentality. “We had a clear mental picture of the spaces, but the concept and layout that Alternativ proposed differed quite extensively from what we had in mind. They took the project into a completely new direction. And we loved it,” says the CEO. “In other words, the fact that the building was already there did not stop them from adding a high degree of flexibility. For instance, they advised against plastering all of the walls and suggested a concrete look for some of them instead.”

Alternativ also encouraged FANUC to remove some of the existing walls. While Paul and his team were not expecting this move, they immediately saw its added value. Alternativ’s continuous flow of original ways to connect the spaces of each floor was aimed at creating more openness and light.

“Alternativ proposed ideas that we would never have thought of, and that contributed massively to the overall design,” Paul adds. “We had an industrial look in mind for the office spaces but were planning on adding standard lighting. Alternativ countered that with a suspended ceiling featuring indirect lighting – and this has indeed become a distinguishing architectural feature of our building.” 

Wellbeing: going beyond ergonomics

The result is a FANUC head office where every detail has been thought of and both employees and visitors feel at ease. The building is equipped with desks, meeting rooms, showers, several kitchens and coffee corners, as well as an auditorium, a reception area with a high-tech front desk, and an ‘Experience Center’ where customers can see the FANUC robots at work and can get to know the FANUC portfolio. Trainees have access to a cafeteria and a large outdoor space. For FANUC employees, too, there is a beautiful terrace on the second floor.

“This building is key to support our growth – not only in terms of the space we now have at our disposal, but also in terms of allure. It offers huge added value to our employer brand. Our people are proud to be a part of this project, and they keep discovering new aspects of it every day. We also notice that this unique concept spontaneously attracts new talent.”

- Paul Ribus, FANUC Benelux CEO