The new DAW company headquarters is impressive, without boasting. Tradition meets the future in the Z-shaped building.
A modern extension now forms the new architectonic focal point at the headquarters of DAW in Ober-Ramstadt. The staff moved into the new company headquarters and it has now also been officially opened. The new extension is not a narcissistic prestige building. It rather complements the existing building and reflects the values of the family company.
"It is in line with our philosophy that renewal always in some way relates to tradition," explains Dr. Ralf Murjahn, CEO of DAW SE. "We didn’t just want to place a solitary object here in Ober-Ramstadt, but rather with the new extension we show that we are continuing our successful history. Therefore, we have used the existing building for orientation, continuing and varying its basic architectonic design." The extension links old and new without any fuss. Several departments are brought together centrally under its roof. The available 7,300 square-metre area is divided into office and conference rooms and offers space for 140 employees.
The Z-shaped building merges seamlessly with the four-storey existing structure and it initially continues linearly along Roßdörfer Straße. Then though, it bends by ninety degrees to the back before turning away in a right angle. This ground-plan shape integrates the spacious forecourt. At the same time the extension is differentiated by the six-storey central section and the four-storey building wings. The Würzburg architects Brückner & Brückner had overall responsibility for the planning of the building. "We are very satisfied with the result; an ensemble has been created which is presented as one entity,” says Murjahn. The characteristic design of the existing building dating from the 1960s has been retained.
With its curtain-wall, back-ventilated facade, which is presented subtly in grey and beige, the building has an unobtrusive, but impressive effect. The pale stone cladding with the light-grey varnished spruce-wood infills and the coating materials are from the company's own production – as are the paints used in the interior. The extension is therefore also a showpiece for the products manufactured by DAW.
Anyone entering the new company headquarters, stands in a well-lit foyer extending over three storeys. The production building, located behind, can be seen through the glazing. The viewer's attention is inevitably drawn to a red band of furniture. Integrated with the reception counter, this leads over fifty metres through the whole entrance area – and above the cores of the stairways from the horizontal to the vertical. "It’s like having a red carpet in reception. It’s the generous brush stroke which is a symbol representing paint and the application trade and also the company’s core expertise," says Margit Vollmert. The manager of the ColorDesignStudio played her part in the colour and material design of the extension. Elaborate coating technology, developed by the company, produces the luminous red of the band of furniture. It passes through the foyer, stairs, seminar level and the cafeteria, guiding the visitor through the open public areas. "It was important to us to link the architecture to the craft trade," explains Dr. Ralf Murjahn about the intention. "The red band represents the whole capability of the German painting trade."
For Murjahn, the communicative atmosphere generated by the airiness of the hall is an architectonic highlight: “together with the bridge, which hangs almost weightless in the hall and connects the building sections with one another.” This bridge provides a pedestrian connection in the third storey between the building wings. In its division of space and infrastructure, the extension meets the requirements of the digitalised world of work. The open levels offer modern open-plan offices, but also temporary rooms for refuge.
Corner seats, high tables with bistro chairs, the coffices and the cafeteria on Level 4 offer staff and customers opportunity for co-operative work and creative interchange. Also, the fully glazed individual offices for the department managers follow the principles of transparency and communication. The employees should be able to move about the whole building in their work. In front and on top too – in the forecourt as well as on the roof terrace which is accessible from the cafeteria. The topmost level accommodates seven variously large meeting rooms with a view of the gentle hills of the Northern Odenwald.
The colour and material concepts were developed by the ColorDesignStudio in consultation with Brückner & Brückner. Stone, wood, glass and metal determine the outer appearance of the building and set it harmoniously in the landscape. The open construction offers relatively few areas internally where paint can be applied. Nevertheless, the variety of colour associated with DAW unfolds here. The ceilings, the acoustic lamellas mounted on them and the sides of the pillars lend their specific colour to each level. "The colours extend seamlessly from the ceilings down onto the load-bearing columns. You could almost say the building is built with colour. This continues in the choice of furniture," explains Margit Vollmert.
Only the rooms of the colour design studio on the ground floor are kept in a purposely neutral white. "This is important, because here we develop colour designs. When assessing them, colour reflections would interfere with the material samples."
The differently coloured building sections are associated with the functions of the departments, explains Margit Vollmert. "The allocation of colours occurs according to their effectiveness, appearance and symbolism. For example, purple has been assigned to the DAW Management, because in the history of colours purple was always the colour of the decision-makers." The characteristic of the technically orientated Product Management is a medium blue, Marketing can be recognised by a vitalising orange and Sales by the radiantly communicative yellow. The combination with fitted furniture and wall surfaces in a light oak veneer gives a refined appeal. This is also the case with the barrier-free, 400 square-metre hall on the ground floor, which offers seating for 300 persons.
The highest demands on energy efficiency and ecology fulfil the technical building standards. Materials harmless to the room climate have been used throughout, mainly from the DAW portfolio. The building does not need active air conditioning. All the triple-glazed windows with sun-screen attenuation can be opened manually; geothermal heating using heat pumps is employed. The primary energy requirement is approximately 20 percent below the level demanded by the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEv). This qualifies the construction for the Gold Certificate from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB).
At the DAW company headquarters, modern and impressive administration offices have been constructed which – free from gimmickry – impart the competence and core values of the company. "This is a step towards a transparently open, professional company, which is very much orientated to quality and which, as before, continues to follow a strong family concept"– this is how Dr. Ralf Murjahn sums up. And DAW continues to interleave Old and New, Tradition and Future. By 2020 the adjacent existing building will be comprehensively refurbished and its facade brought up to the same standard as the new extension in terms of energy-saving and appearance.
Fotos: Constantin Meyer, Köln