“Aktion Mensch” is a household name in Germany. Everyone knows the socially active funding organisation, which is dedicated to inclusion, the natural coexistence of people with and without disabilities in all areas of life.
The newly designed headquarters in Bonn presented here – an existing building from 2003 – is thus also a place where this attitude should be reflected in the building and the interior. For the client and the planners, this meant that togetherness in particular was to be the guiding principle. In terms of interior design, this meant not only thinking about every function with ergonomic and use-related individualisation moments on the available space of 3,900 square metres, but also developing a holistic design with regard to aesthetics that accepts the whole person, or at least appeals to him or her.
The “village square” was chosen as the main motif, in which many different qualities of space and action unite – and this above all under the psychologically relevant aspect of personal, domestic familiarity, local identification and ultimately also a certain degree of creative influence. The idea was to create workspaces that formally connect, allow diversity and create a working scenario that signals belonging.
The interior designers, who were able to work on four floor sections with corresponding core zones accessed via three entrances, decided on different colour areas for the central meeting places, each with a corresponding ceiling. This was intended to create neighbourhoods and identities. Noise reduction is achieved through haptically attractive, soft textiles on elevated, rotating panels as well as cosy telephone booths with upholstered elements.
Inclusive working requires clear orientation possibilities, which is also supported by the path-guiding carpets, and sympathetic design that promotes congeniality. A play of colours and controlled changeability characterise the open work areas, curtain filters and plant islands create unobtrusive separations, modular furniture and height-adjustable tables make it easier to furnish the individual space in a way that is suitable for people, including usability from a wheelchair. Free-standing sideboards with lockable storage space provide privacy. The media technology was accommodated in the upholstered walls.
What do you consider to be the fundamental qualities of a good workplace?
Peter Ippolito: Fundamentally, a good workplace is a place where I like to be, not a place where I have to be. This is the case when its design is authentically derived from the values and purpose of the company and makes them spatially tangible. When innovation and collaboration processes take place there that are integrated into the spirit and culture of the organisation and allow employees to participate in its landscape of meaning and values.
Do you see any comparability in space design for living and for working?
Clearly, workspace needs to be rethought for home as well. How do we weave remote work into real floor plans, and how can we create typologies at home that make it possible to experience a flowing yet perceptible transition between living, working and leisure? There are many solutions for in-between spaces that avoid having the computer on the dining table. For this, we have to make furniture more flexible and create a minimum of discretion and ergonomic comfort even in a small space. For us as designers, this is an invitation to be creative and a great opportunity.
Which functional aspects are decisive for you in the future development of workspaces?
The office of tomorrow is a place where values and the meaningfulness of what is done there are negotiated. In photographs of new office projects, one rarely sees workplaces, but mostly lounges, cafeterias, communication spaces. This impressively reflects how the image of what we imagine work to be has changed. And also what functions the workplace has to fulfil. Today, we mainly organise communication instead of desks.
|Client||Aktion Mensch Headquarters|
|Architects||Ippolito Fleitz Group – Identity Architects|
|Project type||Reconstruction/ Modernisation|
|Gross floor area m2||4.295|
|Number of employees||260|