The new Berlin Headquarters campus of an e-commerce company consists of an ensemble of two buildings in Berlin-Friedrichshain, neighbouring the “Mercedes-Benz-Arena” and the East Side Gallery. Rather than forming a closed block, the design of the seven-storey volumes, accommodating a total of 43,000 m² of office space, creates a striking expression of the company’s identity which assumes an open and transparent presence in the city.
The wrap-around glass façade which embraces the carved architectural volume underlines that aspect and generates large views both into and out of the building by virtue of the transparent and translucent facades. All-glass elements are being used in the upper floors whereas the façade on the street level is characterized by u-shaped glass elements with different visual transparencies due to their ventilation capacity.
The reinterpretation of the traditional Berlin block, created by rotating the building layout diagonally to the urban-development plan, enables a design which unfolds the building towards the city and minimizes its volumetric dimensions. In this way, the interior courtyards shift to the perimeter, establishing a fluid transition between the offices and the public spaces, which were equally considered. The specially sanded outdoor flooring resembles the interiors high quality terrazzo covering and coloured inlays guide visitors inside into the atrium.
The central atrium is the core of the main building and shifts its openings along its vertical ascension, thus drawing daylight to the public areas below. Therefore, a construction of fortified steel girders and grates constitute the atrium ceiling.
The central lobby is flanked by a grand staircase with integrated seating and lounge areas which can also be used for events. The stairs construction is reinforced by diagonal steel beams to prevent a deformation of the attached 1st floor.
The atrium in combination with the adjacent auditorium, creates a spatial continuum that extends over numerous floors, attracting conference and training zones, a café and the staff restaurant to face that space. A rich portfolio of diverse functions makes living and working both easy and pleasant for all employees.
Interlocking double high spaces around the atrium establish an unexpected dynamic atmosphere. Irregularly dispersed, they either generate multi-storey open spaces or more intimate zones for seclusion intermixing work zones provoking an agile, communicative atmosphere.
An atmosphere enabling versatile “occupations” and convertible uses of the building. It is not the office or the individual workspaces that are the spatially defining criteria; rather it is the route by which they are reached that is paramount.
Sustainable office worlds provide spatial organisation to accommodate shifting needs and differentiated uses. In the so-called “living rooms”, social interaction is encouraged through varying spaces for exchange such as co-working seating landscapes, kitchenettes with wooden tables and bar stools and a balustrade along the atrium with spaces for laptops and a view out over the whole campus. Constructions wise the balustrade is constructed as a reinforced concrete frame as a prevention to deformed floor slabs.
Radiating from this interactive core, the work atmosphere along the length of the neighbourhood transforms into calm concentration and retreat zones. Inspired by the city’s boulevards and the iconic design of their namesakes, “catwalks” structurally interconnect and socially enable interactions and networking across all levels. The campus work zones – which are called “neighbourhoods”– can be effortlessly adapted to quickly shifting teams. In this respect, it was important that during the competition the Berlin office Kinzo joined the architectural design team and formulate the interior-space concept.
The inner structure really creates a congenial proportionality for the users, yet nevertheless a flexibility for the constantly shifting functional demands. And the chosen analogy between the digital network society and a bustling marketplace is no coincidence.
HENN is an international architecture office in Munich, Berlin and Beijing with more than 70 years of expertise in the fields of work space, culture, health, education and research as well as production and master planning.
The office is led by Gunter Henn and 22 partners. 350 employees – architects, designers, planners and engineers – from 38 countries are able to draw upon a wealth of knowledge collected over three generations of building experience in addition to a worldwide network of partners and experts in a variety of disciplines.
This continuity, coupled with progressive design approaches and methods and interdisciplinary research projects, forms the basis for a continual examination of current issues and for a consistent design philosophy. Forms and spaces are no mere objective, they are developed from the processes, demands and cultural contexts of each project.