Silesia – the most industrialized region of Poland – undergoes a curious metamorphosis now. The region where heavy industry ruled in the past is nowadays transformed – following the spirit of our times – and starts to be dominated by modern technologies. One of the catalysts for the ongoing changes is the Education and Business Centre “New Gliwice” situated on the grounds of the former mine “Gliwice” functioning there form the 18th till the end of the 19th century. The intention of the administrator of the Centre, was to create favourable conditions for enterprises dealing with new technologies and eventually redevelop the site into a technology park. Construction of FIS-SST headquarters (completed in 2011), the first building in this business area, designed by Zalewski Architecture Group is the result and symbol of revitalization process of postindustrial areas aiming at creation of new public spaces and office buildings of new quality and high standards.
FIS-SST office building designed in the shape of an elongated cuboid stays in harmony with historical buildings of former coal mine. Front and rear elevations made of wooden blinds create a consistent structure and give the building a simple and compact form. Outer walls of the building, perforated with vertical window layout, are hidden behind the shutter layer. This solution provides an impression of a single block with no apparent divisions in the facade. Blinds, apart from the aesthetic effect, protect from excessive sunlight and overheating of the rooms.
FIS-SST company has been operating on the Polish IT market for few years. Its rapid growth forced the need to build a new headquarters. A small building intended for about 60 employees and realized with a very limited budget was designed as a company headquarters taking into consideration fulfillment of its present and future needs.
Surprisingly, its significance and influence goes far beyond the original assumptions of the Investor. As the first building in the Business Park “New Gliwice” it acts as a catalyst for further development and stimulus for subsequent changes. Newly-built FIS-SST office building increased interest in investments in former coal mine areas and inspired and enhanced new investors who are currently starting the implementation of the new facilities in the Business Park. The image of FIS-SST building is now permanently associated not only with the “New Gliwice” Business Park, but is also often used as symbol of positive changes taking place in Gliwice. Authorities of the city use the image as one of the tools in promoting the city under the slogan “Old City – New World”. Due to these actions and the interest of media the building became well-known and recognizable that was an unexpected outcome by the owner. Thus it resulted in promotion of the company in the areas not connected to its primary business activity. Thanks to information and discussions ongoing in the social media the building lives its own “media life”.
This fact only confirms that architecture and good design can be a powerful tool for brand creation and image of the company. They can inspire good relationships with the public and finally can be the pride of all users: the owner, workers and designers.
In the building the ‘low–tech’ building materials tendency was contrasted with specialist solutions aimed at improving work efficiency. Despite the low budget of the investment really good solutions were achieved regarding the functionality and arrangement of space in the building. Limited costs were treated as an inspiration for searching methods and means that can provide at the same time comfort of work and use, high aesthetics and original and good quality design.
One of many ideas applied in the building is the use of solid wood blinds combined with the withdrawal of the proper wall of the building (to form arcades). The solution allows to avoid too much sunlight and overheating in the rooms at any time of day and year. It also gives the users opportunity to open windows, doors and go outside but into a protected area of the building. Linear composition of the blinds consistently creating the block of the pavilion intentionally makes the object closer to the abstract cuboid rather than a classical building – that gives an original uniform aesthetic effect.
However, the basic object of the project was to provide the most optimal working conditions for various workers: IT professionals, project managers, sales representatives and training experts. Organization and space arrangement of the building represents significant progress in the culture of work for the FIS-SST company. For the comfort of work of all groups there is a division of areas in the building - there are rooms for formal and informal meetings, rooms for conference and training and “public spaces” for meeting with clients. All work areas are adapted to the mode and specification of work – either for a group work or individual work or for ad hoc change in the number of employees, etc. Thanks to a wireless network in the building a worker with a notebook can create his individual workplace everywhere in the building according to the need. The building is also prepared for future expansion assuming development of the company. Informal spaces intended for rest and integration (dining room, games room and inner patio) are of great importance for workers and cause a lot of positive feelings. Workers’ satisfaction and identification with the company is a desirable feature for every employer.
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