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.
BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany by Zaha Hadid Architects
November 16th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Zaha Hadid Architects
Our Central Building for BMW constituted a radical reinterpretation of the traditional office – transforming the building and the functions it contains into a more dynamic, engaging ‘nerve-centre’ or ‘communication knot’ – funneling all movement around the manufacturing complex through a space that transcends conventional white collar/blue collar spatial divisions.
BMW’s bold objective was to translate functional industrial architecture into a new ‘aesthetic’ – to use the new Central Building at its Leipzig manufacturing centre as a transition zone between manufacturing halls and public spaces, from which all the complex’s activities gathered and branched out.
We conceived the Central Building, positioned between other existing or planned structures, as an orientating and animating force field, a compression chamber through which all movement converged, from the cycles and trajectories of workers to the production line itself, which traversed this central point.
Within the building, following a primary ‘scissor-section’ strategy, two sequences of terraced plates step up like giant staircases from north to south and from south to north, creating a continuous connection. One cascade begins close to the public lobby overlooking the forum to reach the first floor in the middle of the building. The second starts with the cafeteria at the south end, moving up to meet the first cascade then all the way up to the space projecting over the entrance.
At the bottom of the void between the floors is the auditing area – a central focus of attention. Above the void, half-finished cars are open to view moving along their tracks between the surrounding production units.
In stark contrast to conventional, functionally-exclusive offices, employees are integrated through transparent internal organisation that mixes functions and traditional status groups, from engineering to administrative, white collar to blue collar – preventing the establishment of exclusive domains.
A large car park is transformed into a dynamic spectacle in its own right, showcasing the lively, sparkling, moving field of car bodies in the arrangement of parking lots. Here, cars swoop underneath and set visitors down as they are greeted by views through the glazed public lobby, deep into the building.
The Central Building is the active nervecentre or brain of the whole factory complex. All threads of the building’s activities gather together and branch out again from here. This planning strategy applies to the cycles and trajectories of people – workers (arriving in the morning and returning for lunch) and visitors – as well as for the cycle and progress of the production line which traverses this central point – departing and returning again. This dynamic focal point of the enterprise is made visually evident in the proposed dynamic spatial system that encompasses the whole northern front of the factory and articulates the central building as the point of confluence and culmination of the various converging flows. It seems as if the whole expanse of this side of the factory is oriented and animated by a force field emanating from the central building. All movement converging on the site is funnelled through this compression chamber squeezed inbetween the three main segments of production: Body in White, Paint Shop and Assembly.
The close integration of all workers is facilitated by the overall transparency of the internal organisation. The mixing of functions avoids the traditional segregation into status groups that is no longer conducive for a modern workplace. A whole series of engineering and administrative functions is located within the trajectory of the manual workforce coming in to work or moving in and out of their lunch break. White collar functions are located both on ground and first floor. Equally some of the Blue Collar spaces (lockers and social spaces) are located on the first floor. Especially those internal reserve spaces that are waiting for full use in Phase 2 are allocated as social communication spaces to mix blue and white collar workers. This way the establishment of exclusive domains is prevented.
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