Modern office worlds instead of sweatshops
Office premises in the SWAN beside Dortmund's lake Phoenix See, illuminated by Waldmann.
Villingen-Schwenningen, March 2017: The lakeside SWAN complex of buildings resembles an elegant yacht on the waterfront of Dortmund's Phoenix See. Some of these open-plan office premises are being used by the architects from Drahtler for their own work. Together with interior outfitter Beck Objekteinrichtungen, another SWAN tenant, they have created a flexible and communicative office landscape for themselves that provides their staff with a modern working atmosphere in which they can feel at ease. The people responsible decided in favour of the simple LAVIGO LED free-standing luminaire from Waldmann as workplace lighting.
Impressive evidence of structural change
Even today, many people still associate this town in the Ruhr region with the coal-mining industry, but Dortmund has already been transforming itself for a long time. Structural change is particularly evident with this urban construction concept on the waterfront location beside Phoenix See. This is a place where living, working and accessible leisure are combined. Where at one time, the area was characterised by social problems and heavy industry, football stars, corporations, culture and fine-dining establishments are now moving in.
One particularly eye-catching new structure is the SWAN complex of buildings on the southern shore of this lake, the architecture of which resembles the shape of a yacht. The concept drafted by the Drahtler architects was inspired by the design of the elegant SWAN range of marine vessels. The ground floor, with an emphasis on the use of stone, resembles a quay. The rest of the structure, separated by a design seam, is suggestive of a moving ship. The storeys with their staggered balconies resemble the decks of a ship. Facing the lake, much akin to the hull of a ship, these offer great vistas, with prominent decks with lowered sides and glass balustrades.
Communicative and open working world
As tenants in the SWAN building, architectural practice Drahtler and Beck Objekteinrichtungen have created their own office spaces in collaboration with one another. Beck also uses its premises as a kind of experimental environment for its own customers, who are able here to test, under realistic conditions, how each interior design concept functions in the context of a normal working day.
In contrast to this, the office design of the Drahtler architects is meant primarily to reflect their own workplace procedures, characterised by a high level of communication, and therefore requiring sufficient space for meetings. A place for feeling good, capturing the intellectual feel of an architecture office, is what emerged from this process.
This explains why the architects at Drahtler only enclosed their meeting rooms, technical and social rooms. Otherwise, the overwhelming impression of these architectural office premises is one of flexibility and openness. Employees can converge to work together at various versatile configurations of 'workplace island', and can also draw in visitors when required.
An open view and a lot of light
Lighting conditions also help to found off this feel-good aspect. The workplaces are equipped with LAVIGO free-standing luminaires. These create a pleasant atmosphere with their ratio of direct to indirect light. The free-standing luminaire concept is ideally suited to the flexible working islands of the architects from Drahtler: if group constellations alter, it is a simple task to alter the lighting to suit those changes. In addition, all this lighting can be dimmed to adapt to different requirements. That is also a feel-good factor.
Alongside that, the large expanses of window provide plenty of natural daylight. The wonderful panoramic view of the lake and its surrounding area can be enjoyed by everyone who works there, visible from every workplace. There are no partitions or dividers to obstruct the outlook. Even the furniture systems are restricted to a maximum height of 1.4 metres. Sightlines right across the room assure unrestricted views.
Staff can even work outside. The big balconies lend themselves perfectly to that. They also provide space for breaks, company celebrations, customer events or end-of-the-week get-togethers with the other tenants in the SWAN building.
The new world of work in the SWAN is defined by being together like this, and thinking 'outside the box' of your own immediate area. Once the site of steel mill - a strong reminder of the 'sweatshop' image of the Ruhr region - this new and creative working environment points firmly into the future.
Client: Opländer Phoenix-See GmbH & Co. KG
Architect: Planungsgruppe Drahtler GmbH
Technical building equipment (HVAC): Louis Opländer Heizungs- u. Klimatechnik GmbHOffice design: Beck Objekteinrichtungen GmbH & Co. KG