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.
Das GERBER in Stuttgart, Germany by Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH Identity Architects
August 1st, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH Identity Architects
Württembergische Lebensversicherung AG owns a 14,000 m² plot of land at the south-western end of Stuttgart’s city centre.
The interior was designed to position the GERBER as a key location and leading city address. Its main axes successfully negotiate the terrain topography and connect the city centre with its neighbouring quarters. The GERBER itself is more of an urbanboulevard thana mall. A high-end design throughout makes it viable in the long term, while remaining a low-threshold location for those less interested in luxury. Trademarks of the mall include its high quality environment, easy orientation and spatial elements with a strong recognition value.
Access to the public areas of the GERBERis provided via entrances set at three of the four corners of the building. Thanks to its strategic positionat several crossroads, shoppers are guided straight into the mall from the surrounding streets. The two entrances onTübingerStraßelie at ground level whereas the Marienstraße entrance is one level higher. This height difference coupled with the non-linear layout of the main shopping trajectories within the mall make a clear and precise guidance system indispensable.
The entrance areas already introduce key themes of the interior design. A central element of the interior identity are light rings whose shape echo the GERBER logo –a letter‘g’ constructed from two circles. The positioning of these rings responds to the respective entrance situation. At the narrow, steeper entrance at the eastern corner, an interlocking, linear chain of rings accompanies the visitor upwards. Whileat the wider northern entrance, they explode across the ceiling in a wide arc. At the third, single-storey entrance, curved bands of light integrated into the ceiling adapt the theme while tracing the route that forks here. The theme of intertwining rings thus creates a signature address for each entrance. The light rings reach their pinnacle at the very heart of the mall where they entwine a column and extend upwards to form a tree of light piercing all three storeys.
Incised airspaces create visual links between the different levels of the mall. Rounded ceilings and balustrades give the space a flowing appearance and emphasise its verticality. Glass sides make the ceiling layers appear less weighty, revealing shop façades on other levelsand attracting shoppers to continue their shopping spree there.The monochrome colouring of all public areas adds a note of elegance. The lack of colour also deliberately avoids visual competition with individual shop façades.
The flowing movement is continued in the curved edges of the shop façades. A handbook for store façade design was developed to ensure a cohesive look throughout the mall’s interior.The spatial feeland high-quality materials used for the façades underscore the itspositioning in a more high-class retail segment.The shop façades are additionally brought into line by a continuous,warm dark grey façade screen. Its horizontal line traces the exterior borders of the public areas and serves as a means of orientation. Black light channels set into the ceiling and dark wooden hand rails support this effect by circumscribing the spatial apertures. The play of black lines is completed in a dark strip running down the back of the back-litescalators.Each escalator serves as a striking light object and an important horizontal orientation point.
A stoneware floor is laid in all public areas, including those leading to the toilets, elevators and stairs. An hexagonal tile has been used to reflect the pavements in the surrounding urban environment, which thus appears to be continued in the interior of the mall. The hexagonal shape does not impose a particular direction on the shopper, instead inviting one to tarry and browse, while still clearly denoting the route. The GERBER is designed to unite the shopping experience outside and inside the mall, making it not just a shopping mall, but a fixed point in the urban scene. The shape of the floor tiles recurs in the ceiling design, where they are tilted and offset to form relief accents.
The GERBER introduces a new retail boulevard and highly desirable location for the modern shopping experience. Flowing movements guide the consumer down a bend into the mall and create a light atmosphere with soft transitions and generous visual connections between the three retail levels. The design of the interior space effectively entices the city indoors.
Carbon seating for the GERBER
Seating islands with racing car appealcreate vehicles of relaxation in the GERBER mall
As an integral part of the GERBER’s interior architecture, seating islands were designed for the public areas to serve asplaces of rest and relaxation amongst the bustle of the shopping mall. The seatingislands were subject to an exacting range of requirements:They aredesigned to be inviting while at the same time restricting resting time, as well as proving suitable to all age groups. Theirsizeis flexible enough to enable easy storage, while being voluminous enough to prohibit theft.
We devisedorganically shaped seating in three different sizes with the aim of making the sophisticated mall interior and the dynamic spatial geometry of the architecture visible and tangible to visitors. The material used is CFRP, carbon fibre reinforced plastic. As a result the seating islands are surprisingly lightweight and easy to transport despite their bulkysize. The material and shape pay homage to a luxury car-loving target group in the motor city of Stuttgart. With their flowing contours, reflective surface with a visible carbon fibre laminated structureand elegantly upholstered black leather pad that serves as a cushion, the seating islands embody all the qualities of a racing car. In the context of the shoppingmall, they become vehiclesof relaxation. 3D machinedmoulding, hand-laminated carbon mats and leather cushions that are sewn by hand onto the carbon corpus all go to make up the unique nature of these seating islands.
The 25GERBER seating islands stand out thanks to their unusual for mand bring an extra touch of distinction to the modern and sophisticated character of the mall – bringing quality you can feel to the GERBER.
The GERBER guidance and orientation system
Our studio delivered the interior architecture for Stuttgart’s GERBER shopping mall.The information and orientation system for the mall, underground car park and tenant areas was based on this design. The goal was to create a system that tackles the complex topic of guidance consistently and from auser perspective, while creating points of contact with the interior design itself.
An elongated oval, deriving from the logo of the mall itself, was designed as a visual motif. Thisshape can be found on pillars, ceiling signageand the illuminated walls of the orientation system, and as a floor designator on pillars and wall signs. Pictograms were developed for the orientation system in which the basic element was always the same oval shape. A contemporary visual idiom was favoured when designing the pictograms. Thus the woman in the WC sign has a ponytail and a modern shape of skirt. People are all shown moving, including the wheelchair user who is depicted propelling himself forwards independently. Other motifs referencethe shopping mall context, such as the symbol for lockers that shows a shopping bag rather than the usual suitcase.
The ceiling signs are printed on both sides, respectively displaying only the information that is actually relevant to the direction of movement.