This is Berlin architect duo, Barkow and Leibinger’s third construction for the Ditzingen-based machine-tool company, Trumpf.
A landmark for both motorists on the nearby autobahn and the anonymous industrial estate developed in the seventies, the building is also a community focus thanks to a new, multi-level parvis, elegantly scored by stainless-steel lined surface-water drainage ditches.
The ground floor comprises three irregular shaped volumes containing a reception hall, auditorium and exhibition area for company products.
The wall of the entrance hall is clad with a striking ensemble of rectangular stainless steel pipes, laser-cut to specifications by the company’s own machine tools. The auditorium seats 200 and has two simultaneous translation booths. The heating system is covered with anthracite-coloured metal panels, again shaped and perforated using laser technology while the vertical divisions in the wall glazing allow outward opening of the windows. Atop the 3 ground floor volumes sit two parallel, box-shaped blocks containing the offices.
Set at different angles to one another, these 2 four-storey blocks also have staggered floors. Staircase columns connect the two volumes over their entire height, becoming focal points for internal circulation and interaction as well as the key external features linking the whole complex. They afford inward and outward transparency, a major design requirement.
Inside, the office environment has been made as open as possible for maximum spatial flexibility. Only the managers offices and meeting rooms have been partitioned off with glazing systems. Transsolar Engineering of Stuttgart was commissioned to ensure environmental sustainability and climate control, guaranteeing comfortable working temperatures without sacrificing natural lighting and ventilation.
The special double-skin façade has several functions: thermal insulation against warm air dispersion; highly effective sound dampening against the noise from the motorway when the internal windows are open, and protection of the sun shading system from the wind. The overall aesthetic appearance enhances the idea of transparency and lightness, a feature that is especially evident at night.
The project stands out as a case-book example of affinity between contractor and architects.
The whole complex - from the ground and upper volumes to the parvis marked out by the pattern of water drains - seems fashioned by the laser machines manufactured within.
Attachment to the ground has been resolved in deconstructionist style – an excellent ploy that neatly fits the large auditorium, exhibition spaces and entrance hall into the existing complex.
Although different architectural languages have been used for the lower and upper blocks, the same sense of movement runs throughout thanks to the staggered floors and different angle setting of the two upper blocks. Finally, the staircase blocks, far from being ungainly elements stuck onto the outside of their respective buildings, provide functionally active spaces creating new visual perspectives from both outside and within.