Architects: becker architekten
Location: Im Allmey 14, 87435 Kempten, Germany
Project Team: Michael Becker, Bernhard Kast, Franz G. Schroeck
Area: 2414.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of becker architekten
Structural Engineer: Harald Boeller
Client: GlasTroesch Service GmbH
Land Area: 4,014 sqm
Building Volume: 3,224 m3
Effective Area: 521 sqm
Plot Ratio: 0,6
From the architect. In the midst of a small commercial area on the western borders of the town, the production hall and the office building of the former `schwabenglass` company are situated directly on a heavy traffic street named `Im Allmey`.
After a takeover by the Swiss company `glastroesch ag`, the company’s Kempten location was named `interior competence centre` for southern Germany. The subject of the architectural concept was centred around the feasibility of bringing together the newly needed exhibition rooms with the unchanged capacity for required office space. Among the possible solutions, which have been analysed, were e.g. adding an additional level on top of the existing production hall or the positioning a new building along the street by tearing down the old over-ground levels of the old office building (while keeping the existing under-ground levels). The latter option was selected by the management and to be realized.
The solution is a bridge-like construction out of reinforced concrete with a span width of approximately 36 meters – with the upper level forming a floor-to-ceiling box–girder resting on two abutments (both with staircases and toilets inside). Thus, the ground floor is a column-free exhibition space for the firm’s interior glass products. In sharp contrast to the maximum transparency created towards the street, the office space on the first floor has an introverted character. Two inner courtyards with hanging green plants and roof lights structure the cellular rooms by creating visual bonds and a differentiated use of daylight.
The concrete nucleus is being surrounded by an insulated glass curtain hanging from above with corridors on all four sides of the building. This curtain reflects the innovative character of the firm as well as the usage of glass for nearly all interior things, such as e.g. wall panels, cut-off walls, inner and outer doors, windows, ceilings and even floors. The overall atmosphere of the building reflects the contrast of transparent glass and solid concrete. The symbiotic use of both main materials illustrates the ambivalence of glass: smooth and hard, light and heavy, transparent and reflecting, material and immaterial.
In addition to the reduced use of materials, there are only felt fins fixed on the concrete ceilings for noise reduction and tailor-made furniture consisting of black MDF. The minimalistic materialization is being completed on the exterior: the new building is placed in a gravel field with trees lined up along the street. The gravel field runs into the building and – together with the floor and roof glass barrier – blurrs the boundary between exterior and interior.
While during the day the glass appearance is in the foreground, playing with the light at different hours and in different weather conditions, a metamorphosis is taking place during the night: the glass skin disappears in artificial light, uncovering the daring inner nucleus, which turns into a crystalline object.