This building is the headquarter office for Schwäbisch Media (Swabian Media), a publishing company active in print, radio, TV and new media. Six glass-walled cubes define and compose the project, with their proportions and dimensions based on the surrounding traditional German fachwerk villas in the city of Ravensburg. These six working areas have been stacked on top of a transparent ground floor, through which access is afforded to each, creating a new urban typology in the centre of this medieval city. As the company’s activities were previously scattered throughout the Upper Swabia region, this building brings all 350 employees under one roof.
Wrapping the project’s perimeter is a silkscreen fritted glass fence varying in height from 1-4.5 m. This semi-transparent membrane provides additional security and works as a sound barrier against traffic noise while featuring an oversized centrally located entrance in the form of an 8 m wide gate, inviting visitors during office hours. Lending a singular identity to the clustered volumes, this fence also allows the six individual working areas to be individually distinguished. Therefore, this new office can be perceived as both several individual buildings, sharing a common enclosing skin, and one continuous urban intervention that fluidly interweaves interior and exterior.
The working areas vary in floor height, and are connected by a series of outdoor terraces and roof gardens, which double serve as external shortcuts and emergency escape routes, but also as communication and resting areas, between the many media departments. These outside terraces activate the building, encouraging informal communication among the building’s employees, balancing with the generously open interior office spaces. The hybrid nature of the office’s column free interior spaces, and the raised floors throughout for IT and data cables, allows the building to remain flexible and adaptable to future uses. A part of the building is prepared for a future upper extension allowing the company to grow. The building’s five staircases and all internal ceilings have been created using exposed concrete, finished with additional aluminium acoustic panels incorporating lights and other technical items.
Geothermal energy heats the interior, and a computer-controlled sunshade shields the exteriors of the transparent working areas. Depending on the time of day, year, and exposure of the sun, an algorithm further determines which portions of the shading system should be lowered. Office employees can manually override these sunshades, expanding upon the building’s domestic character. The silkscreened print on the perimeter glass fence and ground floor, which recalls the image of curtains blowing in the wind, provides further protection from solar gain an, while ensuring interior privacy for employees at street level.
Location : Karlstrasse 16, 88212 Ravensburg, Germany
Client : Schwäbischer Verlag GmbH & Co. KG
Program : Offices
Area: 13.800 m2
Budget: 30.000.000 euro
Status: Completed in 2013
Wiel Arets, Bettina Kraus, Carsten Hilgendorf, Uta Böcker, Tobias Gehrke, Ramón Alvarez-Roa, Ole Hallier
Collaborators : Deniza Radulova, Gwendolyn Kerschbaumer, Felix Thies, Raymond van Sabben, Sjoerd Wilbers
Consultants: ABT, SSF-Ingenieure AG, Müller-BBM GmbH, HL-Technik GmbH, IHG-Technik GmbH, Winter lngenieure GmbH
Carsten Hilgendorf contributed to this project as project architect at WAA controlling the process from Preliminary Design to Construction.