Corporate Headquarters in Baden Württemberg | kadawittfeldarchitektur

Baden Württemberg / Germany / 2021

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Landscaped terraces for 1500 employees


This new national corporate headquarters is located in a rural-like setting on the outskirts of a spa town in Baden Württemberg. The aim was to use the undulating plot between fruit orchards and small-scale developments to create space for 1500 employees with a range of associated functions. Rather than creating a single monolithic structure, the design, which was the result of a collaborative commissioning process in 2016, features a differentiated ensemble that blends in with the surrounding landscape. The large volume of space is separated into a terraced complex with five separate buildings, interwoven by a natural flow of green featuring planted roofs, terraces and courtyards, and a joint boulevard base below that generously connects all elements. Due to the staggered arrangement of the upper floors, the individual houses are adapted to the height of neighbouring developments. The topography with a total height difference of 11 metres is made use of by partly setting the structures into the ground in order to make the large scale of the project less conspicuous. The symbiotic relationship between landscape and building structures the volume in a compatible way and provides the ensemble with a unique identity.


 


New lush green work ambiance


The result is an office complex in a garden-like environment characterised by many advantages for everyday life at work, such as natural light, healthy air, beautiful scenery and visual links between the varied indoor and outdoor spaces. There is a view into the surrounding green from each desk and most areas benefit from natural daylight. Communal areas, such as the foyer, the restaurant and the gym, as well as the conference zone and children’s day care centre, have access to exterior space, providing opportunities for informal communication and working outside. The lush green vegetation flows between the different structures with their Y, U or ring-shaped floor plans and widens at the middle to form a central forum. Dependent on their functional requirements, the individual structural components are accessed from the surrounding streets. The clearly visible main entrance with a large forecourt is positioned between the two south-facing buildings. In addition, there are two entrances to an underground car park and a ground-level logistics zone for deliveries, which includes a column-free space to test innovative concepts for new stores. The incorporation of the many different functions leads to a varied spatial mix that, like a small town in the countryside, meets the high demands of today’s collaboration.


 


Connecting boulevard


In addition to the more sparsely arranged upper floors, the joint boulevard level below the five structures is a key element of the design. As a distribution and shared space, it connects the departments in the individual buildings with the communal zones, including, for example, the foyer, a conference and training area with a multimedia room, the corporate restaurant, a gym and logistics centre, in a very natural way. Besides providing access to all these functional areas, the boulevard level is also a meeting place; this is where exchange takes place and inspiration is found, which complements and enriches the work performed in the offices above.


After traversing the foyer from the ground floor entrance, a wooden flight of stairs descends down into the boulevard zone, which can also be accessed directly from the upper underground car park level. By taking advantage of the difference in the site’s elevation, the nominal upper basement level is transformed into a varied, light space full of atmosphere, the actual centre of the new building. It is from here that the boulevard level spreads into several exterior zones on the landscaped plateau. Whereas a variety of lounge areas function as gathering places for informal meetings, the planted courtyards enable light to flood into the interior.


 


Interior design


The fact that the architectural and interior designs originate from a single source has led to a perfectly coordinated balance of continuity and variation in the indoor space. For example, zones full of atmosphere have been created on the boulevard level where, as is the case for the ample stairway connecting the foyer to the lower floor, special attention has been paid to the transitions. All areas are generally dominated by natural colours and surface finishes, except for a few splashes of colour which are used to highlight particular features. The hue within the colour palette distinguishes between quieter and more dynamic zones. The holistic concept of the interior space is complemented by a signage and orientation system developed by the Stuttgart-based office uebele.


 


Restaurant


The corporate restaurant with a large kitchen able of preparing 1500 meals at lunchtime has a spacious south-facing dining area. It surrounds a kind of “market square” with counters offering a variety of food and is divided into six zones each with a different atmosphere. Ranging from quiet retreats and slightly more open areas to lively urban settings, they cater not only to the individual needs of the employees at lunchtime but also the functional requirements of, for example, working and business lunches. There is a seamless connection between the interior space with seating for 436, offering a sweeping view across the fruit orchards, and the landscaped exterior zone for 162. The range of dining facilities is supplemented by a café, an event kitchen and a smoothie bar with indoor and outdoor seating in the boulevard area. A catering and hospitality kitchen, both located next to the reception desk, cover the needs of events that take place in the conference and multimedia rooms. 


 


Conference area and multimedia room


Adjoining the boulevard on the ground floor, the foyer also provides direct access to a conference area. As is the case for the latter, the fully glazed meeting rooms also allow nature to flow in and thus create an immediate link to the communicative centre at the heart of the ensemble. Additional rooms facing interior courtyards provide greater privacy. Together with a training centre, this zone includes almost 30 rooms and seating for a total of 342 people. A two-storey multimedia room with up to 360 seats complements the training area. Equipped with a raisable floor, an adjoining prep kitchen and a separate foyer with a room-dividing unit accommodating catering and cloakroom facilities, the venue is ideal for a wide range of different events.


 


Gym


A modern fitness area for employees is a further feature of the new corporate headquarters. Similar to the foyer, the gym can be accessed from the boulevard via a wooden stairway that doubles as seating. Unlike the boulevard, it is distinguished by its own design, for example with a rubber floor covering featuring athletic patterns, which are adopted in the design of the ceiling lights. In addition to the actual gym, this area also includes rooms for group sessions and therapy. While this zone also opens up to the exterior space, lush green vegetation forms a natural buffer to the neighbouring buildings.


 


Office environment


The offices are distributed according to the various departments among the individual buildings. In keeping with today’s requirements for modern work environments, the office space has been planned with flexible zones, which promote concentrated and productive work in the same way as they encourage informal meetings and exchange among employees as important elements of day-to-day business. The levels with different room depths allow for a wide range of typical office typologies, ranging from cellular, grouped and a combination of both to open-plan offices, which are alternated with individually designed communication and meeting areas. The result is a stacked arrangement of office platforms surrounded by planted terraces that promote the overarching concept of the design.


 


Exteriors


The significance of the exteriors and their design is particularly important for the overall concept that has been modelled on the surrounding landscape. The planted areas guide nature into the ensemble of buildings, play a key role for the microclimate and natural cooling of the building, improve water retention and, at the same time, fulfil important functions in daily work routines. The communicative centre of the development, for example, is designed not only as a meeting point but also as an element with an identity-forming effect. Organic shapes, flower beds and seating areas create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere outdoors inviting colleagues to exchange ideas and work outside. There is a fluent transition between the restaurant’s outdoor area and an embankment with steps that double as seating. The result is an open-air venue with sufficient space for 500 spectators. In addition, there are green roofs, courtyards planted with perennials and shrubs, and, to the east, more landscaped terraces that step down almost three full storeys from the centre of the development. With indigenous plants and shrubs, the terraces function as a green buffer to the neighbouring residential estate and offer employees a place to step out, linger and relax.


 


Facade


The idea of layered landscape panels is continued in the facade. Thus, the horizontality of the terraced architecture is emphasized by the continuous bands of the streamlined structure. Large glazed areas with filigree glass parapets enable daylight to penetrate into the depths of the building. The glass alternates with ribbed bands of ochre-coloured ceramic tiles underlining the horizontal flow of the separate floor levels. In addition to a mechanical ventilation system, the triple glazing is combined with windows that can be opened according to individual needs in the offices and exterior shading devices.


 


Powerful thinking


Sustainable architecture creates places where people enjoy spending time and quality is a matter of healthy conduct and thoughtful choice. Consequently, the work environment itself contributes towards a positive work-life balance: the way concentrated work alternates with informal encounters, the flexibility of work space and how it responds to future demands, the number of opportunities for recreation and the way team spirit is perceived not only in terms of productivity but also in a holistic manner. These aspects are therefore also ascribed in the location and its incorporation in the design. Outdoor areas and lush vegetation around, in and on the building enhance the functions and opportunities of the site and enable the ensemble to blend into the surrounding landscape. In addition, they have an immediate impact on improving sustainability. The vegetation supports the cooling and energy efficiency of the building, helps to retain rainwater, improves the microclimate and complements rather than reduces existing biospheres. The design team also addressed the whole life cycle of the building including, for example, the use of recyclable building materials. Thus, the terracotta tiles have only been mechanically fastened rather than glued so that they, including the substructure, can be removed and sorted. A breathable clay wall in the boulevard leads to a better indoor climate through its moisture-regulating effect and with its recessed seating functions as a place to retreat or have a brief chat with colleagues. The heating and cooling demand is covered by a combined heat and power unit and an absorption refrigerating system; some of the roof area has been used to install solar panels. The interaction of these components contributes towards the ease of use and the long-term acceptance of the building, which are the most important factors for the positive perception and durability of the architectural novice.


 


Location: Baden Württemberg (DE)


Volume: 134.800 qm


Competion: 2021


Architect: kadawittfeldarchitektur | www.kwa.ac

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    Landscaped terraces for 1500 employees This new national corporate headquarters is located in a rural-like setting on the outskirts of a spa town in Baden Württemberg. The aim was to use the undulating plot between fruit orchards and small-scale developments to create space for 1500 employees with a range of associated functions. Rather than creating a single monolithic structure, the design, which was the result of a collaborative commissioning process in 2016, features a differentiated...

    Project details
    • Year 2021
    • Work finished in 2021
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Corporate Headquarters
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