The three-storey earth building looks massive when you approach it and loses itself in lightness and light when you enter. The interior of the Alnatura working environment is as bright as day thanks to the generous glazing on the roof and the fully glazed front sides of the building. The choice of materials from clay, wood and untreated concrete underlines this effect. Past the reception, waiting lounge and the conference rooms, the gaze immediately wanders upwards. Here a multitude of steps, bridges and walkways break away the external robustness.
In Darmstadt, there is now room for almost 500 Alnatura employees on around 13,500 square meters. The transitions not only connect all levels and departments, they also promote exchange and facilitate employee workflow. But more than that: as a design element, they enable a more than just spacious atrium in the middle of the wider area. There are no longer any separating walls in the working areas; instead, the room offers design options to employees, but also enough retreat or meeting places. The design concept reflects the company’s flat hierarchical structures and supports the work culture of Alnatura’s inter-functional team. Above all, it shows here how important the close cooperation between architect and client is for a holistic concept. “The very intensive, joint work with the client is certainly a special feature of this project.” says Martin Haas, partner of the haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050 office, and adds “at the beginning the client approached us without a location and clear specifications, so that we were involved in developing and designing the project and also advising on the most suitable location. There was a great deal of congruence in the sustainability criteria as an essential principle for architectural development between Alnatura and us as planners.”
It is precisely the location and the shared sustainability requirements of the architecture and the client that make this project today one that has yet to find its equals. The building itself was designed according to micro-climatic aspects and the optimal use of daylight. On the particularly sunny south side of the building, a near-natural water lily pond was created as a natural climate buffer in summer; standing pines provide additional shade here. A whole pine forest, however, can be found in the west – this also contributes to the climate in the interior. Maintenance-intensive and resource-consuming air conditioning and ventilation devices were completely dispensed with. Instead, fresh forest air is fed into the building through two suction towers via an underground duct. The chimney effect of the atrium itself provides the internal drive for this air flow. The forest, the floor and the clay facade all act as a natural climate buffer and make it possible to keep the additional heating and cooling requirements of the building extremely low.
Nevertheless, heating must be carried out in winter – but even that as efficiently as possible. In cooperation with Martin Rauch and Transsolar, heating coils were embedded in the rammed earth walls of the building. These are of course fed from regenerative sources such as geothermal probes. An absolute world first. Some of the energy that is still required comes from the 480m2 photovoltaic systems on the roof. In addition to the use of renewable or natural building materials such as wood and clay, as well as the use of recycled and reusable materials, it is such innovative solutions that make the Alnatura working environment what it is. An absolutely resource-neutral new building with remarkable design quality.
But that is not enough for the aspect of sustainability, because the project name, Alnatura Working World, is actually a sympathetic understatement. On the premises of the Kelley-Barracks, not only a working world has been created, but a whole living environment for the employees and every resident of Darmstadt. The former barracks area was redesigned in cooperation with the open space planners from Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl – Überlingen, sealed areas were dismantled and a meeting place was created for the people of the region. In addition to the company headquarters, there are also a bicycle shed, a kindergarten, a restaurant, show and learning gardens, public organic lease gardens and much more on 55,000 m2 area.
It would be too easy – even wrong – to claim that haascookzemmrich Architekten are setting new standards in office culture with this project. They did not orientate themselves by existing standards, not even by certificates or even awards. They orientated themselves exclusively by the extremely high common demands of architect and client. The result is a new way and the prize of the Best Workspaces Award 2020.
|Client||Campus 360 GmbH|
|Sector||Food and beverage industry|
|Project type||New building|
|Gross floor area m2||13.500|
|Number of employees||500|
|Lighting||Lighting Floor lamp: LAVIGO - Waldmann | Ceiling light: Modul Q - Nimbus, Molto Luce | Pendant light: Studio Line - Bega|
|Flooring||Visible screed sanded: Chemotechnik | Carpet flooring: Eco Zen, Carpet Concept|
|Acoustics||Sound absorber in bare ceiling: Sorp 10, Max Frank | Soundproof curtain system: Gerriets|
|Workspace Furniture||Desk: CDS, Vitra | Storage space: Level 34, Vitra|
|Conference Furniture||Conference table: MedaMorph, Vitra|
|Lounge Furniture||Alcove, Vitra|
|Technology||Internally: WiFi area-wide HP-Aruba | LAN cabling at the workspaces (voice over IP) | Externally: Telekom MPLS network|