Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart, Germany
Extract from entrant’s explanation
The design proposes a model landscape that accommodates all the service functions (delivery yard, storage area etc.). The built landscape is created with employees and visitors in mind, so that visitors approaching from the east access the landscaped areas via a ramp, where they’ll catch an early glimpse of the campus before reaching the controlled access points. The landscape also has precipices and edges facing the forecourt and the campus. Lightweight, large-scale and casually appointed glass facades create a symbolic openness at entrance level, so the access points are realised in an unambiguous and appropriate manner.
Visitors enter the interior of the “landscaped hill” from the south, via the public zone, which has a waiting area and display spaces. They are then admitted at the front desk, which has controlled access to the semi-public zone (containing the central meeting area and bistro). The public zone foyer can be accessed at entrance level, through the semi-public zone. A generously sized escalator and lifts transport employees to the “dizzying” heights of their working environment. Seemingly floating, the work zone levels are visible inside a woven nest that adheres precisely to the static requirements for the building. The atrium and its adjacent areas are the main centrepiece of the working environment, where employees can come together and share ideas. Galleries and staircases connect other central locations where people can meet, discuss and be inspired by the environment.
In keeping with the external facade, galleries, open staircases and cut-back ceilings supplement the vertical connection of the clusters across floors. Two-storey clear spaces also create a generous, modern space in the work zones. Clusters can therefore be combined both horizontally and vertically.
The building combines landscape and architecture to form an interface between the public sphere and the privacy of the campus. The area not currently landscaped raises up as a gentle hill, permitting access on the level and acting as a central division between visitors and employees. The conceptual floating structure offers a view through to the inside of the building and the campus. The dramatic contrast of tectonics and lightness is outstanding, adding to the prestige of a campus that stands out from the crowd.
External access is very well addressed. In the ground floor zone, the flows ranging from public, semi-public and private paths through to the delivery yards are not obvious but are effectively laid out. Access to the workplace environment is provided via an elaborate but logical escalator system. Most of the workplace floors are designed in a basic configuration that allows staff to find their way around easily and with a high degree of flexibility. Joining onto a thoroughfare are four identical areas that can be arranged to individual or group requirements. The areas are well lit and comfortably sized.
Overall, this quality conceptual contribution is caught between two scenarios: on the one hand obtaining highly expressive architecture, a visible corporate identity and a high quality working environment and on the other hand meeting the high cost of realising and operating it.