- Design Team:Stephan Graebner, Tobias Lippert
- Engineering:Riedl Holzbau
- Clients:Ziegler Holzindustrie GmbH & Co. KG
- Structural Engineering:Bodensteiner & Partner
- Landscape:realgrün Landschaftsarchitekten
- Electrical Engineering:EAS Systems
- Fire Protection:DAI Dorn Architekten
Text description provided by the architects. A new house sprouts from out of the ground in the midst of a forest glade, the home to one of Europe’s largest sawmills. An interplay of light, shade and wood. A house rooted in the forest. A home for the central administration of the Ziegler Group, in the very place where the success story of the family company began, a story that was forged with the Betzenmühle sawmill. Built out of the very material the company works with every day. Our architecture is the essence of the company, the Ziegler work environment, its products and its philosophy. Today, the Ziegler Group is a globally operating family company with its headquarters in Betzenmühle / Plößberg in the Upper Palatinate region. Its core business activities are within the field of wood processing.
The company group’s business divisions also include logistics, mechanical engineering, software development, forest management, interior design and the construction of prefabricated houses, with quite a few locations and approximately 1400 employees. In the search for a suitable location in the forest surrounding the sawmill, we, together with the builders, asked ourselves: what exactly do we want growing here, and where? And we found the perfect spot: at the highest point of the plot, where forest and production space intersect. After engaging in collective workshops, an idea was born: We would take the earliest product from the Ziegler product range, a tree stem of spruce soaring 19 metres high and build a house from it.
From the outside, you can almost hear the musical score of the Ziegler products playing in unison, a rhythmic procession of logs surrounding the building like lines of musical notes. The wood serves as a natural filter, both from the inside and outside, with additional shade thanks to a textile that provides protection from the sun, and at the core, a façade made of glass, wood and metal. The two cubes are raised up with felling cuts, like the stem of a tree, with two inner courtyards between them. Each employee has their own window. This concept is continued throughout the structure’s interior, the quality of the wood becomes increasingly more refined and the house makes all subsequent steps in the processing of the wood visible, from the raw wood of the counters, to the refined wooden surfaces of the office furniture.
Wood in its complete diversity, exemplified in the quality, grade and colour. The new administrative building is a pure wood construction with cross-laminated timber walls and covers, and two exposed concrete emergency staircases made with brushed raw plug casing. We also wanted to consequently create innovative new ways to implement wood as a building material and to find modern solutions for its use. The house connects, forms identity and creates the perfect work atmosphere – where all facets of the creative process, from administration to production, are always transparent and accessible. It was important to the builders that everyone works together, in a space of communication and transparency, a space with perspective and accessibility to other colleagues and to the surrounding forest.
In addition to a showroom, the offices for some 120 employees, meeting rooms and a loggia, there is also a restaurant for employees and a guest casino, all connected by a wooden spiral staircase. Images that most inspire us: The house illuminates the forest night like a wooden lantern, the people in it like fireflies in constant motion. With every year that goes by, the daylight imbues the façade with a beautiful patina. And like a beacon, it shines in all directions, as if conscious of its significant purpose and place in space and time.
The more that time passes, the more the house becomes a part of the forest. The Ziegler Group continues to grow, and with it, the entire area. The new administrative building was the first building block. Reforestation using local species of trees, the integration of roads, parking spaces and routes, all conducted with nature and sustainability in mind, of course, as well as the master planning for a Ziegler campus in the middle of the forest. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of working amidst a forest, of reconnecting with nature.