Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
RICHTI QUARTERS / BUILDING FIELDS 1& 7 in Wallisellen, Switzerland by Wiel Arets Architects
April 26th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
The new Allianz headquarters is located in two buildings that correspond to contours defined by an urban plan set by Vittorio Lampugnani. Composed of one high rise and one 5-story building, the Allianz complex contains mainly office program, and defines the edges of the block according to the urban plan, itself based on a modified block structure. Both buildings in the complex are connected to one another through a series of bridges that enable the various office, gastronomic and retail facilities to accommodate one another and interact fluently.
Taking the concept of ‘interiority’ literally, the building produces a spatial, programmatic and atmospheric variety within. The pure layering of floors is broken through a series of voids that link individual floors visually and physically. These multi-story voids create short cuts between floors through the use of open stairways, which produce new and unexpected visual and spatial relations.
Because these voids were planned as an option into the structure, in many regards the building becomes more adaptable to individual use, and creates the possibility of a more vertical rental arrangement for respective tenants. Open stairways to the roof garden on the 5th floor of the smaller building perforate the base of the high-rise to encourage vertical movement through the building, rather than fostering and encouraging the use of elevators.
The integration of a variety of gastronomic, educational and leisure related functions align with the intention of a creating a stimulating work environment. These additional programmatic functions weave through the building, beginning with an auditorium in the lobbies of the high-rise, through a ‘working restaurant’ and two espresso bars, and onto a fitness center with its own running track on the roof. A crèche, relaxation room and a business center also contribute to this additional program.
Through this distribution of integrated programs, a manifold work world with references to the city realm emerges. At the same time, the diversity enables different atmospheres within a homogeneous frame. The lobby can – similar to a hotel reception – relate to different activities. It could, for instance, become a foyer for a lecture hosted by the local university taking part in the auditorium. A multitude of conditions were developed that allow team areas, calm zone cabins, flexible jobs and lounge areas to be situated next to individual work stations, for informal working.
Structural glazing, partially printed using silkscreen techniques, composes the envelope of both buildings. A silver curtain acts as sun protection within the facade void; by means of a central control the building envelope can thus react to the changing light conditions.
Structural elements were, when possible, integrated into other building components such as to secure a high grade of flexibility in support-free areas. The columns, for example, are directly coupled with the profiles of the façade. Large spans are used to further minimize the amount of structural elements. The choice of material and lighting is based on longevity and comfort, which allows the development of different room zones and atmospheres within the interior.
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