The revirement of a city district from an industrial site to a place for living and working is a tried-and-tested means of revitalizing urban landscapes these days – now also south of the train station in the Swiss city of Aarau. There, Schneider & Schneider Architects took on the rededication of a rectangular four-story building into the new domicile of the transmission grid operator Swissgrid.
The environmental concept with Minergie-P standard and the greenproperty gold seal of quality could be implemented, whereby an inner courtyard lushly furnished with native flora both brings light into the inner floor areas and offers all building users a readily perceived oasis. Protected from city noise or wind and benefiting from fresh air and sunshine, the grove-like plateau acts as an additional work zone, lunch or relaxation area, as well as a welcome additional space for events.
The main entrance to the building is centrally located via an entrance hall, which is reached after passing through three revolving door cylinders and crossing the preceding encounter zones in the form of an elongated lounge and adjoining lecture, meeting and conference rooms. A cafeteria beckons on the opposite side of the courtyard. Five practically arranged access cores with adjoining restrooms lead up to the workplaces on the three upper floors.
But the first thing you don’t want to do is leave the high-quality, detailed design of the first floor – and not just because the greenery of the outdoor facilities spreads out charmingly in front of the floor-to-ceiling glazing. The furniture invites you to stay and to open up intellectually, and you are taken in sensually by a media artwork called “Where does the rainbow end? Swiss artist Katja Loher installed projections running across the house, installed in the floor, ceiling and wall, on which ants move to color effects.
Care also characterizes the inspirational work environment, which was developed together with Martin Kleibrink of Smart in Space and interior designers Jasmin Grego and Stephanie Kühnle. It follows the Business Club concept, which caters to internal and external stakeholders. Means is the variety of space on offer, geared towards personal aspects and collaborative scenarios: a wide range of shared workspaces and zones allows for specific choices: from privacy offices to project workspaces, meeting rooms and team spaces to a bustling market hall.
What do you consider to be the key qualities of a good workplace?
Martin Kleibrink, Smart in Space: A good workplace is characterized by balanced “working environment conditions: Light, air, noise as well as ergonomics that promote health. But that alone is no longer enough today! Office work has become more diverse; in the daily routine, employees in modern administrations pursue different activities: The alternation between focused individual work, teamwork, formal and informal communication, but also relaxation cannot take place in an environment dominated by uniform, monofunctional workplaces. Thus, a good work environment is distinguished by diverse work and communication scenarios in which employees move autonomously and choose the environment in which they can optimally perform the work or communication task at hand.
Do you see any comparability in the design of space for living and for working?
For years, the boundaries between work and leisure have been increasingly dissolving. Work has been decoupled from place and time and can now take place anywhere. In response to the demands of recent years, the home office has been able to establish itself as a permanent form of work in almost all companies and administrations. While office forms that convey appreciation have been focusing on residential aspects for years, residential construction has not yet taken the changed framework conditions into account. There is a massive need to catch up here: effective work in the home office cannot take place only at the kitchen table or on the sofa. Residential construction must react here and create work niches or small workspaces in the planning that provide the right framework for work at home as well, while ensuring previously neglected basic ergonomic principles in the home office as well.
What material-related aspects do you consider to be the decisive ones in the future development of workspaces?
Balanced material and color concepts that appeal to people are created where an attempt is made to meet the design expectations of future users rather than to implement the usually sober ideas of architects and designers, which forego the use of color accents. Balanced design concepts use colors, meet the users’ desire for greenery, and also convey appreciation through the value of the materials and furnishings used, thus making a significant contribution to people’s well-being and motivation.
|CSA Real Estate Switzerland, eine Anlagegruppe der Credit Suisse Anlagestiftung / Swissgrid AG
|Schneider & Schneider Architekten ETH BSA SIA AG
|Gross floor area m2
|Number of employees