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.
Adidas Laces in Herzogenaurach, Germany by Kadawittfeldarchitektur GmbH
October 22nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Kadawittfeldarchitektur
adidas Laces, Herzogenaurach| germany The new Laces blends into the existing World of Sports ensemble as a floating counterpart to the black, recumbent mass of the adidas Brand Center. Its clearly contoured volume positively invites the surrounding campus to find a continuation within its interior, an atrium with a controlled climate. Lined up in a circular arrangement, the office areas with their large glazed surfaces open onto the atmospheric inner space and the remarkable landscaped space. The connecting walkways that cross the atrium, the Laces, “tie” the built volume together, as it were, to form a many-layered office building that is rich in relationships. They enable a maximum of interaction and allow open areas of communication to emerge. As delicate connecting bridges, they weave a poetic spatial structure into the interior and thus make the special creative atmosphere of the building legible. The result is an inspiring place for research and product development.
typologie office building construction volume gfa 62.000m² cubature 356.000m³ realization 2008-2011 client adidas AG World of Sports competition 1st Prize 2007 architect kadawittfeldarchitektur project partner Dirk Zweering awards Office Application Award 2009: Best Innovative Concept
Adi Dassler was inspired by a single idea when he made his first shoes: all athletes should get shoes that were ideally adapted to them and their discipline. Almost 100 years later, this motto still applies at adidas.
[ Task ]
The adidas brand is characterised by permanent development, as it was in the days of the company founder Adi Dassler. Innovations don’t happen by chance, however, and they happen not only in the development department but every day, when employees apply their minds, are committed and collaborate with passion on the creation of new products. The further extension of the “World of Sports” by means of the sustainable office building called Laces makes a significant contribution by providing employees not only with functional and optimised working conditions but also with inspiring surroundings that encourage creativity.
In the competition that was held in 2006, the challenge was to match the high functional and architectural standards of the buildings previously constructed here, and at the same time to represent the individual character of the adidas brand.
[ Intention ]
Adi Dassler’s endeavour to make the perfect product can be transferred to architecture in many ways.
The aim of the proposal was to create a building that fitted the adidas brand. This applied to the design of the building, on the one hand, but above all to the atmosphere and everyday creative work. A building in which employees work with both success and enjoyment, and one that makes it possible to experience every day what it is that makes the location in Herzogenaurach so special. It was not to be a typical office building with zones separated according to department, but an unmistakable place for the mainly young employees from all over the world to identify with the company. Starting from countless different approaches, what finally emerged was the idea of a ring-shaped building with a spacious atrium and connecting walkways, the “laces” (like the laces of a shoe), which give the structure its name on account of their particular geometry: crossing the airspace of the atrium, they connect office areas lying opposite each other on each level and thus “tie” the volume together to form an office building that is rich in multi-faceted relationships. The themes of movement and dynamism are ever-present in this way and convey to the employees the feeling of being part of the creative work process.
[ Embedding in the Landscape / Context of HerzoBase ]
The campus is formed from a loose arrangement of individual built volumes, each of which speaks a distinctive and unique architectural language in it own right but at the same time takes its place in the diverse ensemble of the World of Sports. Laces is situated in the southeastern part of the site, between the adidas Brand Center and the Adi Dassler Sports Ground. The topography is used to let the landscape flow into the transparent covered atrium and the building via the two-storey entrance area, and thus to extend the extraordinary quality of the campus in the form of an artificial landscape. The green space of the park is present in the atrium at all times through the two-storey glass façade. The clear contour of the ring-shaped structure permits an uninterrupted view of the surrounding country from every department. Only the part containing the Test Hall lies outside the shell and is integrated into the topography as a greened-over hill.
[ Complex of Buildings ]
As a counterpart to the black and somewhat flat volume of the adidas Brand Center, Laces fits into the existing complex of buildings with its white banded façade and its dynamic architectural volume. The clearly contoured volume positively invites the surrounding campus to find a continuation inside as a climate-controlled atrium. Lined up in a ring, the office spaces open up to the atmospheric interior and the remarkable landscape with their large glazed surfaces. Within the individual storeys the “laces”, free linking walkways that span the atrium, permit a maximum of interaction and quick connections, and allow areas of open communication to arise. The walkways “tie” the building together in terms of structural engineering, too, making it a multi-layered office environment with abundant relationships. As delicate connecting bridges, they weave a poetic spatial structure into the interior and thus make the special creative atmosphere of the building legible. The result is an inspiring place for research and product development. The external appearance of Laces is characterised by its clearly contoured, reflective smoothness, which is thus courteously unobtrusive and visually reduces the built volume. The smooth façade surfaces are structured and articulated by set-back loggias corresponding to the walkways.
Laces can broadly be divided into four zones:
– the office area on the four storeys above ground level, the so-called Office Module;
Inside Laces the zones known as the Office Module account for the largest part of the building in terms of volume and surface. This is where the “creative units” will move in, whose working materials consist not of paper and files, as is normal, but of textiles, shoes and accessories such as bags, balls etc. In their understated white or grey colour scheme the office areas produce a studio-like atmosphere for creative work on products, designs and ideas. Here the purpose of the mainly neutral colour scheme is not only tranquillity in view of all the colourful variety of the products, but also to ensure a working atmosphere that is as bright and pleasant as possible. In a conscious contrast to the light-coloured Office Module and the white, transparent inner façade, the eponymous “laces” take the form of dark grey catwalks, connecting belts which pass through and lend structure to the spacious atrium with their all-round charcoal colour.
At the points where the walkways enter the surrounding office spaces, the so-called Office Lounges form open areas for communication that are oriented to the outside thanks to the loggias placed in front of them and represent an invitation to stay and relax. The interplay of the walkways and the encircling Office Module provides maximum flexibility in the placement of departments and takes account of security requirements: there must be no crossing of other departments. Moreover, the disturbance caused by people passing through departments no longer exists. At the same time internal relationships between different departments are created by a high degree of transparency. The central atrium becomes a zone of communication adjoined by meeting areas for common use by different departments and by the bistro lounge.
[ Ground and Basement Floors for Special Uses]
Innovation Valley constitutes a lower-lying green courtyard within the atrium and is reached via a wide flight of steps from the ground floor. Innovation Valley is surrounded at basement level by production and development departments in which research is carried out and new products are developed and made as test products.
Athlete Services is an out-of-the-ordinary place: individual care for athletes under contract, teams and VIPs takes place right here. Individually adapted products are made and presented on the spot for outstanding athletes who enjoy individual attention from adidas.
The Athlete Services Lounge, which is centrally located in this area, is bordered by various rooms in which body measurements are taken, clothing is tried on and shoes can be adapted and fitted with the help of the latest biomechanical methods of analysis. The Lounge provides a relaxed place where athletes can spend time while waiting for their tailor-made product and take receipt of it in a casual atmosphere.
Also situated at Innovation Valley and symbolically at the heart of the building is the Brand Archive, in which prized adidas mementoes, important products from the company history and the evolution of design and products, are kept and can serve as sources of research and inspiration for employees engaged in today’s product development.
[ Appearance ]
Without resorting to showy acrobatics of design, the building has been given an appearance that matches the adidas brand. Its perceived volume is reduced by the striped character of the façade, a result of the alternation of white surface bands with dark bands of windows. The smooth, reflective surface of the façade further reinforces this reduction. Depending on the angle from which the façades are viewed, the building melts into a mirror image of the surrounding landscape.
The walkways that mark the interior are also apparent on the exterior, where loggias give a structure to the long façades in the shape of three-dimensional vertical cut-outs.
In order to lend dynamic expression to the sharp-edged volume and to extend upwards the spatial impression of the atrium, two of the six sides of the building lean outwards slightly. This incline is continued through the whole building via the walkways that are connected to these sides. In this way the loggia zones, cut out at a slight diagonal, refer to the dynamics of the interior.
The two façades that flank the two-storey entrance area have also been turned, in order to make visible as much as possible of the horizon of the campus. By this means the campus remains connected to the surrounding countryside despite the size and width of the building.
[ Façades ]
The starting point for the design scheme is a smooth and sharp-edged contour of the built volume, which takes its character from the white-enamelled exterior bands. The building is also articulated by the dark-looking horizontal bands of windows, which are broken and divided by loggias, placed vertically one above the other with their black facings. The smooth appearance of the façade is achieved through the use of a construction of aluminium elements in the form of a structural glazing façade, with triple-glass insulation windows and integrated sun and glare shield in the intermediate space between the glass panes.
At the south-west of the building, the circular shape opens up over two storeys to create a large, roofed porch area as the entrance to the campus. In order to assist the flow of the landscape into the atrium interior by means of maximum transparency of the façade and to maintain delicate façade profiles, the steel construction is suspended from the section of the ring-shaped volume that lies above. The inclined sides and ends of the adjoining sections of the building on both sides of the main entrance reflect the surrounding landscape thanks to high-gloss, invisibly attached wall cladding of polished stainless-steel sheets.
The high proportion of glazing on the outer façade and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the inner façade towards the atrium ensure that the work areas are extremely well lit and that their communicative ambience has a transparent character.
Thanks to the fact the whole atrium was roofed with a printed foil-cushion roof and has a controlled temperature, it was possible to fit the inner façades with single glazing without vertical bars.
[ Holistic Approach ]
An additional feature of this building is that it was possible to include other design themes such as orientation and office furnishings into the planning process at an unusually early stage. This led to the creation of an exceptionally homogeneous whole. The building, interior design, graphics and furnishings are all of a piece.
[ Concept for Office Space ]
Laces was conceived as a flexible office building. Changes in the composition and size of teams or of the entire occupying units are every bit as normal in a globally active company like adidas as the temporary integration of employees from other locations worldwide or groups of external persons. This means that the use of space within the Office Module can be adapted to organisational changes more easily than hitherto. This reversible concept for office space is based on modular units of occupancy following the planning grid of 1.60 metres, a flexible partition system to create individual offices and meeting rooms, and on an elaborate technical pre-installation enabling media provision that also functions according to the planning grid.
An essential point here is the allocation of the office space into three functional zones: two workplace zones, one each along the outer and inner façade, and a multifunctional zone between them. While the workplace zones contain both closed spatial units and also open group offices, the multifunctional zone is conceived as an open area that connects the two other zones. It provides space for informal meetings, temporary workplaces and space for storage, printers and other functions.
[ Furnishing Scheme ]
WORKOUT, a scheme of furnishing that was developed especially for adidas, was designed by Kinzo from Berlin, and in contrast to today’s standard office furniture takes account not only of the requirements of normal ad-hoc communication but also of work on and with the product. At the same time the furniture design takes its cue from the architecture, the scheme of colours and materials, and especially the manner of working in the different departments and product areas. For example, a special system of cupboards and shelves was evolved that is particularly suitable for textiles, shoes and accessories like bags, balls etc., and can be equipped in a highly flexible way.
Quote from Kinzo, the company that designed the interior of the Office Module:
“WORKOUT translates the communicative architectural concept of kadawittfeldarchitektur into a furniture and interior design that was tailor-made for the individual requirements and the special demands of the working environment at adidas. Through the interplay of architecture and interior, Laces is like a perfectly harmonised film set that therefore matches one hundred per cent the identity of the company and the brand. The core item of the furniture system is the Teamplayer, a multifunctional spatial module that lends a dynamic and rhythmic structure to the open office level and conducts the wave-like flow of the building into the space. The effect of the bracket-like Teamplayer elements is to unfold separate rooms, light and transparent, and at the same time to clearly mark out the working territory of a team.”
[ System of Orientation ]
To permit better orientation, the Laces building is divided first of all into two segments of approximately equal size, each of which is identified with a capital letter. These letters are attached to the atrium façade on the ground floor and act as the address in the building in combination with the number of the floor. An additional aid to orientation is the identification of the Office Lounges with historical product names, which can be read on the glass panels of the corresponding walkways.
This is a layering of names and visible letters which characterise the spirit of the building, as if they were hovering in the air at the centre of the atrium. To make orientation in this large building easier, the Office Lounges and coffee-making areas in each of its cores are decorated in uniform primary colours.
Quote by Professor Andreas Uebele, the planner of the orientation and guidance system:
“movement in sports determines the graphic language. dynamic typography is present throughout the building (…) on the glass balustrade panels, depending to the storey, diverse typographical images are formed that produce a moving but restrained image when seen from the atrium (…) the contours of the letters and the arrows are shifted horizontally and repeated rhythmically to create the impression of a script that is reminiscent of movement in sport”
“the colourless typography takes its place in this coolly objective, understated world without subordinating itself, reflecting human motion and thus reinforcing the associations with the theme of sport”
[ Support Structure ]
The atrium roof is formed by a support structure of steel arches that rest on the ring-shaped building and the supports of the walkways. The spatial and climatic boundary is a transparent, three-layer cushion roof of ETFE, kept rigid by means of an air supply. A grid of dots printed on the outside of the cushions reduces the solar warming effect. The cushion construction is supported by four-metre-high external steel lattice formwork that can span a distance of up to 50 metres and is hardly perceptible from inside due to the printing.
The “laces” themselves are suspended from lattice supports, which make it possible to limit the height of the walkway construction to 30 centimetres. The slenderness of the structure was an important criterion in planning, so that the desired transparency and openness of the atrium is not diminished despite the large number of walkways.
The innovative support structure based on the joint-free construction of the ring-shaped building with integrated compensation strips made it possible to save more than 300 tons of reinforcing steel, which was highly advantageous for the ecological profile of the building. The ring is further braced at the roof by means of fasteners set laterally on the steel lattice supports. By this means it was possible to give the arch support construction an extremely delicate form without any suspension ties at all despite the great distance to be spanned.
A further distinguishing feature is the projection of the entrance section, which opens the atrium a long way into the park without additional supports. To make this possible the entrance part of the building was conceived as a bridge-like section spanning over 60 metres and held by two gigantic lattice supports. The larger of the lattice supports alone weighs approximately 60 tons, which is roughly equal to the weight of a jumbo jet.
[ Technical Installations ]
In the technical installations of the building great importance was attached to the ability to make spatial changes with the minimum effort. For this purpose elaborate technical installations have been fitted in the ceiling and floor according to a grid of the possible positions of partition walls.
Although a large proportion of the extensive technical equipment is in the ceiling, and in spite of the considerable requirements in terms of cooling and sound insulation, a calm and homogeneous appearance of the ceilings from below was achieved. For example the smoke alarms and sprinklers, the cooling and heating ceiling, sound absorption elements and other technical features are concealed in this ceiling.
The climate control of the offices is an economically integrative system. A cooling ceiling with a very high specific performance is combined with a visually effective baffle ceiling. Highly efficient air-supply vents with an air change rate of 1.5 complete this system. The exhaust air flows over the façade into the atrium. By this means it is possible to dispense almost completely with ducts for exhaust office air in a shaft, which is economical because space and costs are saved. At the same time energy is extracted from the exhaust office air and used for conditioning the climate in the atrium. With the help of heating and cooling installations in the ceiling and floor of the atrium, temperatures of 16 – 28°C are achieved all year round. The remaining energy of the air in the atrium is recirculated to the office air supply via central heat-recovery systems.
[ Sustainability ]
In planning and building Laces, numerous measures were adopted that combine to form a coherent overall strategy for sustainability. Building shell and energy economics: the glazing of the highly insulated outer façades is a three-layer structural glazing construction that complies with the highest standards in respect of the thermal and moisture-protection qualities of the shell of the building. By covering the atrium with an extremely light ETFE cushion roof which is UV-permeable and requires very little cleaning, it was possible to optimise the outer surface (i.e. improve significantly the ratio of outer surface to volume).
Laces over-fulfils the requirements of the German directive on energy saving (EnEV) by 38.8%. The climate conditioning of the atrium is carried out by streaming conditioned air from the office areas with higher air pressure, so that no additional operating costs are incurred for the atrium. In this way it was possible to reduce the area devoted to air ducts in the cores, for example, and thus optimising the usable area. The energy from the exhaust air is recirculated via an energy recovery system.
Considerable electricity savings were achieved by means of intelligent light control such as dimmable lighting controlled by daylight and presence. The illumination of the “laces” in the whole atrium is supplied by means of a 750-metre-long LED lighting strip. The power requirement and the need for heating and cooling were further optimised thanks to controllable sunlight and glare protection (extremely high rate of use of daylight). Geothermal warmth: The use of renewable energy through 28 geothermal probes with a length of approximately 4300 metres results in a carbon saving of some 80 tons per year.
Green roof: The whole 1700m² surface of the test centre roof was greened, planted with native species of vegetation and landscaped to integrate it into the surroundings. Use of rainwater to reduce the consumption of mains water and minimise use of the waste-water infrastructure: For WCs and urinals rainwater is used all year round. Precipitation on the main roof of Laces is channelled to a subterranean rainwater cistern with a capacity of 180m³. Surplus rainwater is used for irrigating the grounds. The use of water-saving, no-touch faucets was a further means of reducing water consumption.
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