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Roche Multifunctional Building, Christ & Gantenbein, Photo: Walter Mair

All Clear for Creativity: Roche Multifunctional Building by Christ & Gantenbein

Office environments evolve in a constant interplay of clients’ old wish to optimise space, more recent phenomena such as digitisation, and present-day influences such as the corona pandemic. This is nicely exemplified by “Fritz”, the multifunctional building built by Christ & Gantenbein for the Roche group in the border town of Grenzach-Wyhlen in Baden. Planning began on the new building named for company founder Fritz Hoffmann in 2017, when Corona was little more than a somewhat flavourless Mexican beer, and employee interaction and possibilities for meeting with customers and business partners held priority. The five-storey volume with a 52 by 37-metre footprint comes with a gross floor area of 10,000 square metres and enormous depth. A publicly accessible entrance hall with reception desk, bar and restaurant is situated on the ground floor; the next two floors have a double-height forum complete with a 550-person event area that can be partitioned into three, while two office floors with 300 flexible workstations and only 100 permanent ones are situated at the top. The building’ structural features facilitate the enormously open design of these areas; the four circulation cores, for example, are consistently set at the outer corners. Coffered ceilings in transversely pre-stressed exposed concrete span the central area in column-free fashion. Skylights integrated into the topmost floor’s coffered ceiling enable natural light to penetrate deeply into the building. The only conventional flat ceilings are in the outer office areas close to the windows, where the spans are shorter.
The open and adaptable project area is loosely zoned with highly disparate fixtures – the “FOB Fritz Elements”. Developed in ten different types by the interior designer Inchfurniture, they include glass cubes, long wooden tables, colourfully patterned sitting steps on movable castor wheels, charred cork seating ensembles and glass-enclosed rotundas for group work, etc. Plus they sport unsurprising names in some cases such as Creative Lab and Silent Hub but in others have stranger ones, such as Forest Circle, Desert Area and Sky Box. Elements have visible joints in the architecture and interior design alike, with both also renouncing composite materials and glued connections – last but not least enabling “Fritz” to contribute to the client’s sustainability goals.

Further planning partners:

Itten + Brechbühl, ZWP Ingenieur-AG, PPEngineering, hhp Berlin, IGW, Amstein + Walthert Sicherheit, Intelliconcept

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