Conversion of an histroric tram factory - Hamburg, 2005
The planning of the new headquarters for the fashion company – CLOSED implied a complete reorganisation of the employee’s habitual working environment. The office- structure was subdivided into many small rooms in a maze-like Hamburg-Eppendorf backyard type ambience. The new 1,400 sq m headquarters was realised in a part of the old streetcar depot (built around 1900) in the recently revitalised area of Hamburg-Falkenried. It contains an open- plan office space for the design and production department, two new showrooms, offices for the company management, marketing and bookkeeping as well as a new conference area, communal space, and a two-storied reception hall. As the old listed building gets the main daylight from an areaway in the centre and not from the facades, the space is obviously laid out for open-plan offices (the German building codes for office space arrogate natural daylight and ventilation for each single employee). So, one of the main challenges in designing the space was the clients wish for a mixture of open floor plan area for the design and the production department and the showrooms plus single office spaces for about 28 people in management, marketing and bookkeeping.
The designers decided to solve the problem by adding the private office spaces in two furniture-like long “boxes” located at the hall, while the ground floor is reserved for bookkeeping and marketing and the mezzanine level houses the showrooms and management personnel where the designers’ space is right across the other wing.
Another problem that has to be resolved is the height of 2.4 m underneath the old steel-beams on the mezzanine level. The designers have created the shelved “box” on the floor in three subdivisions, detached from the beams that are now running freely in between the box-parts. So the “office-boxes” are really free standing, giving the image of dissertation to the old structure of the building. Despite the object-like placement of boxes in the hall, the rooms inside are acoustically separated from the large designers space. On the mezzanine floor opposite to the office boxes, the designers invented a storage wall with hanging rails and shelves for two whole fashion design collections using the same design principles like the office box. The storage wall can be opened to the back; and that gives a calm appearance towards the usually busy design at the production area. Functional space on the ground floor (including the kitchen, bathroom and copy room) is again added to the hall in a furniture-like box. They are all cladded in glossy white panels with oak wood seams.”
The industrial character of the old streetcar depot is maintained and underlined by a rough floor finish all over the open spaces (glazed anhydride mortar). All furniture elements are finely detailed and in contrast to the rough character of the streetcar depot hall. The heaviness of the old space was taken away by a bright colour concept. Different shades of white, sometimes matt and sometimes glossy, light grey and naturally oiled oak wood dominate the space. In this project, the limits between interior design and furniture design are blurred.