Designing Microsoft Technology Centers for transformation

Designing Microsoft Technology Centers for transformation

Microsoft has redesigned its MTC Brussels facility to help customers digitally transform

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Technology and what you can achieve with it evolves at a fast pace. This message has been part of Microsoft’s DNA from its inception in 1975. Organisations around the world have their own business priorities and expertise, and technology supports them in their operations and efficiency. Finding ways to go beyond today’s possibilities and realise transformational outcomes has become the catalyst for growth, sustainability and continuity of an organisation. 

The mission of Microsoft Technology Centers (MTC) all over the world is to empower digital transformation and business outcomes through immersive experiences and deep technical engagements. MTC Brussels in Belgium opened in November 2018, with customers being welcomed to an inspiring environment where engagement with the MTC’s expert team became the foundation of a vast amount of cutting-edge digital transformation journeys. The Brussels MTC was set up as a place for envisioning, strategy briefings and design sessions.

More recently, the team decided to revamp the facility to strengthen the synergy between ground-breaking capabilities of Microsoft technology and a state-of-the-art centre. Directions to our project architect were to design for change, showcase the best expression of Microsoft technology, enable innovative dialogues and support the exploration of new opportunities towards high value, digitisation paths. 

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit Belgium hard. Healthcare, education organisations and citizens alike have been affected by the consequences of the virus and the imposed restrictions, at work and in day-to-day lives. Our habits and opportunities to connect and spend time with others have changed drastically, and so digitisation and technology have proved to be a key differentiator in facing these challenges. As such, MTC Brussels has become fully virtual and, by doing so, can continue to guide its customers on their digital journeys. 

The unforeseen Covid-19 circumstances heavily impacted the execution of the MTC redesign. New requirements arose, such as ways to enable social distancing and support virtual conversations. Creative thinking helped us to rebuild it. 

When you enter the new facility, you are met by the Microsoft logo in coloured threads which connects two floors. The piece symbolises how technology bridges and empowers. Walking down the stairs, visitors are then welcomed by the Agora – an open space which derives its name from the Ancient Greek for ‘meeting point’ and would have been the centre of political, social, and commercial life in the city. 

The Agora is the centre of technology, the heart of the Microsoft office and a connection hub. Demonstration set-ups here are powered by Microsoft technology and showcase the meeting room of the future, the limitless capabilities of data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and modern work and business applications scenarios.

A new room – The Pit – is a welcoming space that encourages discussion, ideation and evaluation of technology options. It fosters creative thinking in architecture design sessions, hands-on labs, hackathons and rapid prototyping. The layout of the room can also be changed depending on the type of session and the audience. 

The Envision Center has moved away from being a classic auditorium. Today it invites attendees to interact and engage, to step out of their comfort zones and to go beyond evolution, triggering real transformation and new outcomes. 

Throughout the MTC, versatile cubes add to the smart and extensible design. They can be transformed into dozens of shapes that can serve any purpose: a table to work at, a high-top table for lunch, a snug seat, an inspiring demo stand and many more. They can also be utilised to quickly set up socially distanced spaces, allowing us to welcome customers in person, in a safe and secure way. 

In these demanding times, the MTC Brussels is ready to support and accelerate customers’ digitisation journeys and help them face today’s challenges. The new facility is different – designed for transformation. It brings both in-person and virtual sessions to the next level, giving customers an astonishing experience. 

Myriam Broeders is the director of MTC Brussels

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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