Waterloohain 5

Headquarters Fischerappelt communication house - Hamburg, 2001

The new headquarters of the biggest PR agency in Hamburg, FischerAppelt Kommunikation, is rebuilt and revamped from a few buildings in a worn out industrial area of Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, creating the ‘Medienpool Waterloohain’. Two of the completed projects – Waterloohain 5 + 9 – designed by Carsten Roth Architekt, got an additional new roof floor which blends into the 25m x 60m x 12m base (the existing three-/four-storey building) it shelters, making it look like an autonomous building.
The design focuses on the spatial interpretation of communication. It also intends to increase productivity, and emphasize its new image and culture. Thus a distinct visual presentation and a unique virtual space challenging to copycat by competitors are developed. Different teams are allocated in different spaces that have no apparent enclosures but a multitude of virtual spatial expressions defining the various zones.

This built virtual space is anchored with the ‘white box’ where business clients are shown ‘what’ the company does. Its contrary is the ‘black box’ – a suspended ‘Thinking Cube’ full of spatial reflections – concealing ‘how’ the media people create their ideas. The innovation is a tangible virtual space that becomes a familiar home for various media teams and customers, making it a place that stretches through urbanity into endless spatial possibilities. The internal organisation is leaner and, therefore, more cost effective and inspiring than the previous facilities. The motivational effect of the architecture can be measured by the increased productivity reflected by the voluntary overtime hours spent in the office per week. The translucent/semi-transparent glass walls have the advantage of defining the space into comfortable units, and at the same time, keeping the whole floor spacious, open and bright. Consequently, space is readable as the architectural manifestation of the idea of communication.

Teams are integral units of the communicating family. Every team member is an indispensable part of the whole. All units are distinct zones leading into a common central hall. Each single room accommodates a team of 6 to 8 members with its supervisor occupying a semi-visible room. Daylight and natural ventilation are provided for every employee. There are various decentralized conference rooms, and internal meeting places which different in- house work groups can utilize to exchange ideas. A soft zone is incorporated in the workspace for recreation to improve the working atmosphere. The high tech newsroom and the main conference room connected to the central hall create a focus and orientation for business clients, guests and applicants. The unique way to present different teams and the themed zones of various departments mysteriously facing the visitors is highly attractive. The architecture gives a new impact to a run-down neighborhood to demonstrate the company’s vision and potency beyond media’s space. Besides becoming the landmark of the district, it reaches out to blend into the urban context in perfect harmony.