Rough Elegance

Design Lepel & Lepel
Location Mannheim, Germany
The former canteen in a commercial building from the 1970s on an industrial site in Mannheim now serves as a multi-space office for Aurelis Real Estate.

From a canteen to an office

Interior design comes into play when the aim is to develop a productively functioning, user-optimised and atmospherically strong place from a banal initial situation. The planners at Lepel & Lepel would probably advertise their profession in this or a similar way, as this is exactly what they realised for an office floor in an existing building from the 1970s. The former canteen of a Mannheim turbine factory with a continuous band of windows and a 5.80 metre high ceiling was redefined as a work loft without diminishing the potential of the architecture. Aurelis Real Estate, the client, wanted a representative and open office landscape. The multi-space concept used for this actually forms a deliberately diverse map. Among other things, it consists of an island-like platform area with desks and an open gallery above, which could be realised thanks to the ceiling height, a meeting room below separated by glass walls, co-working facilities, retreat zones, a quiet, decentralised office for the management, a kitchenette and a telephone box.

Colour Scheme

The aesthetically strong appearance is the outcome of the “Rough Elegance” motto. This leaves the shell of the building visible, while the ceiling, now an intense rust-brown colour, has been refurbished, refined and fitted with acoustic modules. Technical materials such as Heraklith panels, natural stone, concrete, glass, steel and wood as well as industrial lighting skilfully pick up on the original character of the building and the entire complex. It goes without saying that the colour scheme and style of the interior furnishings have been adapted, and the preserved terrazzo tiles also fit in with this. Otherwise, the tonality of the interior design is solid, purist and re- presentational, while at the same time natural, modern and functional. The pedestals are clad in wild oak, the light blue wall colour alternates with the same colour of me- tile, and the furniture is in light beige and brown tones.

"We love breathing new life into industrial sites!"
— Gerda Karal, Monika Lepel

What do you consider to be the key qualities of a good workplace?
Lepel & Lepel: Creating a supportive communication and working environment with maximum hospitality and professionalism! Above all, the office is a place of appreciation, community and togetherness. At the same time, it functions as a tool so that work can be done well and creatively. A good mix of strategy, atmosphere and comfort. True to our credo of “building relationships”, we create the spatial framework for this and turn workplaces into living spaces.
Do you see any similarities in interior design for living and working?
There are definitely overlaps. Today’s office has to convey a feeling of home and being cared for. This means that emotional ties to the space are definitely allowed and even desired. After all, feeling at home like in a temporary home, encountering the familiar and working effectively are by no means mutually exclusive. On the contrary, both poles complement each other to create identity-forming places for communication, co-operation and concentration.
Which material-related aspects do you consider to be the most important for the future development of workspaces?
Paying attention to sustainability is a basic requirement for the planning and handling of materials. These should be pure, recyclable, natural and environmentally friendly. Not least because we have the opportunity to positively influence the indoor climate, acoustics and health and well-being with the materials used. This creates spaces for the senses, where beauty and identity can be experienced in a tangible way.

ClientAurelis Real Estate Service GmbH
ArchitectsLEPEL & LEPEL
SectorProperty sector
Project typeModification/rebuilding
Gross floor area m23.300
Number of employees-
LightingPedal light: Peters Design, special luminaire
Workspace FurnitureTroldtekt, Troldtekt A2 acoustic panels
Conference Furniture-
Lounge FurnitureReception desk: Balke & Partners, Murano Series4 / Terrazzo stone
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