Text description provided by the architects. ADVANCED DESIGN
Since October 2013, Daimler worked in collaboration with the interior design and architecture company anySCALE to develop, design and execute the new Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center of China which opened in November 2014 in Beijing.
THE BEST OR NOTHING
From anySCALE’s lead architect, Andreas Thomczyk: “The amount of automotive research and design centers around the world is relatively small in number. To get the chance to be involved in the development of one of these centers is even smaller. Once built it will last almost for ever. When Daimler launched the pitch for their new Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in China I knew this is what I wanted to do: To design one out of the five design centers Daimler is running worldwide. Stuttgart is the town I grew up in and it is where Daimler has its roots. Designing for Daimler in China is something which would make me very proud and would reinforce the bond between me and my father, who worked for Daimler his whole career.”
anySCALE won the pitch and started work on the project in September 2013.
From the onset anySCALE’s design team, lead by architects Andreas Thomczyk and Karin Hepp, worked closely with the Daimler Mercedes-Benz team to best accommodate the specific challenges that come with designing and implementing an advanced design center, whilst integrating Daimler’s corporate design style by incorporating the Mercedes grey, white, and black throughout the facility. In addition to the design studio, anySCALE also designed the advanced design center’s innovative office spaces, workshop and outdoor courtyard.
“Although the design center itself plays the most important role in the Mercedes-Benz advanced design center it only represents 20% of the space for the project. Besides several floors for office and labs we had to integrate a large scale workshop for mechanical testing as well an open courtyard for presenting designed cars within a natural environment.
We recommended the client develop the project along two lanes simultaneously. One lane - let’s call it the fast lane - to make all offices ready for use as fast as possible. The other lane - let’s call it the leading lane - to ensure the new Advanced Design Center of China will set a benchmark in design within Daimler AG.”
Even though the focus for the offices was on straightforward development anySCALE also introduced a new language for Daimler's office design. Wood was replaced with black, blue and light grey to make up the main color tones within this working environment.
“Black has always been a color associated with Daimler but seldom used for their employees environment, often favoring silver instead. When black is combined with enough natural light, high quality artificial light and lighter color tones it makes for an elegant background color.”
Black also became the background tone for the upper part of the Advanced Design Center. The design center is split into two levels: the upper floor where the designers do the digital work and the ground floor workshop with its milling machines where three 1:1 scale car models can be built up simultaneously. Both levels are set as highly confidential areas and therefore connected with a new internal staircase. These two areas are not only connected physically but also digitally. Any car design in this studio can be developed digitally and manual in parallel. Already in-progress works can be displayed on large digital walls on both floors.
“The requirements for the designers were manyfold. On the one hand designers required us to create a quite, relatively dimly lit space for their focused digital design work upstairs. On the other hand the designers would benefit from a relaxed atmosphere in which to develop their ideas in a more communicative way.”
When developing the office design around communication and frequent interaction between the various users of the space, the idea of a small village or commune became a central focus of the team’s design. A village composed by freestanding curved glass walls which separates the spaces but does not enclose them. Several groups of workstations are placed within these formations while outside bays creating "cosy corners” serve as a media room, library, coffee bar and color and trim area. Natural oak flooring and an open white ceiling compliment the black walls, lending designers a feel more akin to working in an industrial loft than the corporate environment normally found in offices of large scale companies.
“When it came to furniture selection we took a different approach too. The standard approach is to play it safe with value system furniture which gives the user a lifespan of between 5 -10 years. For their design center in Japan however, Daimler already implemented furniture from Swiss company USM Haller, whose furniture design goes back to the 60’s and will easily last for 30 years or more. A very sustainable approach. Whilst initial investment is higher the high-end quality, longevity and timeless design fit well to Daimler’s long history as a premium car manufacturer. The work stations white and light grey colors stands in contrast to a loose arrangement of puffs of various colors and sizes at the cozier areas of the space.”
“This new studio in Beijing will provide a creative environment for us all to indulge our imaginations, free of commercial constraints”. Prof. Olivier Boulay (Vice-president of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center of China)
In the workshop housing the high-tech car model machinery the design focus is on clean lines and functionality. As mentioned, with a certain amount of sensitivity associated with Mercedes-Benz advanced design center of China, the workshop also features a full-width folding wall that can slide seamlessly into place to divide the workshop in two. A courtyard leading out from the workshop was designed with the express purpose of displaying special car models. At one end the courtyard features a smooth double-height white wall which perfectly compliments the car model on display.
The Mercedes-Benz advanced design center is praised highly at Daimler Head Quarter for it’s innovative design and high standard of execution, and has become Daimler’s flagship facility for Asia. After only 11 month anySCALE successfully completed the project on time and on budget.