The project is a reconversion of a 19th-century sanatorium into a modern company headquarters inside a natural park to welcome B. Braun, a medical care solutions Company.
The whole building is protected by the local heritage for its cultural value. The project considered the preservation and refurbishment of the building together with new high effect architectural elements.
Where once there was the loggia where the patients cured of respiratory diseases today rises the central body that was emptied to make space for the new full-height social foyer with a barycentric spiral staircase that symbolizes breathing.
Il Prisma's design is based on the overall concept of breathing, keeping the expressive features of the location, along with its compositional and functional revisitation, the “muscular” strength of the building.
The technological and design complexity, as well as the extraordinary act of breathing, are hidden behind a lightweight and welcoming architecture. A building that can be enjoyed and utilized easily... just like breathing.
In order to preserve a government-protected historical building while implementing sustainable element, the design team chose, in synergy with the client, for a “back to the origins” approach.
The location, actual architectonic diaphragm, inhales and exhales air and light through its glass surfaces, conveying them to the other portions of the building.
In the past patients came to the Melsungen’s municipal forest to heal from tuberculosis. The key idea behind the reinterpretation of this environment was to improve people's health. In the same way, the company's philosophy is based on sustainable improvement and emotional comfort of people in the world. The stimulating nature of this place is passed on the new generations, the employees, who can get inspired while working in a healthy environment.
The original building structure characterized by a rigid system of hospital rooms and corridors has been opened to obtain more flexible spaces for different work-settings. The inner distribution has been improved with a new building part in order to gather additional functions: office spaces, restaurant, conference hall, scientific library and learning center.
The central body has been emptied by removing the existing slabs and the entire area has been raised for two more floors to gain a direct connection in all floors between the three main wings of the building, formerly separated by the roof of the lower central part.
The design was aimed to preserve the building, implementing state-of-the-art thermal and environmental comfort and functionality. While the original facades were protected and maintained, the atypical metallic coating and the windows, which had been added in the 70's, have been removed. New full-height glass walls and loggias have been realized to recall the former open balconies that made the facade of the original building unique.
To enhance the arrival, the refurbishment also includes the opening and re-arrangement of the lower volume in the North facade and its transformation into the new main entrance with annexed service rooms.
One of the most characterizing elements of the project is the central foyer with the iconographic helix staircase. The helicoidally structure creates wider spaces and allows to connect all floors and the two main wings of the complex to the corridors, leading to the offices.
The cantilevered steel frames, which follow the rotation of the staircase, as well as the full-height curved glasses that are deformed "cold" and kept under mechanical pressure are part of the architectonical climax which culminates by a wide squared skylight. This element is made by a special selective glass and filters solar beams with a high performance, allowing at the same time a clear vision of the outside.
The internal casing aligned with the South facade; it was subjected to a full reconfiguration from the first to the third floor, in order to deliver a contemporary reinterpretation of the original loggia. The result is a continuity of geometries and materials that create a homogeneous look.
A building part created in the 70’s has been demolished at all according to by the project. Here, the new volume includes the wide multifunctional room completely glazed like a pavilion into the park.
In compliance with the EnEV 2009 legislation (law relating to energy saving in force at the time of design), all new building components were chosen and installed without compromising the requirements regarding the protection of the monument. The previous PVC windows have been substituted with thermal break windows with wooden frames, as Heritage prescription, to save original elements. Insulation was installed to prevent thermal bridges.
Around 50% of the annual power need of the building is generated by the Cogeneration plant built to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time, as prescribed by the Heat act (EEWärmeG - Act to Promote Renewable Energy for Heating Purposes).
A thermodynamic HVAC system for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration through radiant ceilings has been installed into offices and meeting spaces.
The interior lighting integrated into the acoustic false ceiling is a LED technology with automatic regulation based on external lighting conditions.
All new flat roofs are covered with extensive green, while the former roof and facade cladding material has been substituted by natural slate shingles to preserve the original aspect of the historical building.
As foreseen by the fire prevention plan, a fire sprinkler system was implemented in the whole building.
Il Prisma, www.ilprisma.com, an Italian design company operating worldwide. A team of 94 talented people based in London, Milan, Rome and Lecce with 3 different business units: Architecture, Workplaces, Retail & Hospitality. Il Prisma is designing with people in mind, thanks to a revolutionary approach based on active listening, analysis, and field observations lead by a team of strategists. Il Prisma has also recently published a book about the design of space through the use of the five senses (Now We Work-Edizioni McGraw Hill).
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