Axel-Springer house inspires fresh thinking

by Ofentse Sefolo
Axel-Springer house inspires fresh thinking

Four years after work began, the new building designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) for the German publishing group Axel-Springer in Zimmerstraße, Berlin, has been inaugurated next to the historic headquarters of the publishing house, completed in 1965.

The building, designed by OMA (as a result of a competition won by the Dutch studio in 2013), offers 52 000m² of workspace for more than 3 000 employees of the German publishing group. It is a project manifesto: A large hollow container made of terraced floors and bridges to generate innovative workspaces and meeting places in the digital age.

The building is part of the Axel-Springer campus on Zimmerstraße

OMA’s design is intended to be open and transparent to lavishly broadcast the work of individuals – reflecting the work of the company and challenging traditional offices that conceal internal operations.

“In the typical office building, a visitor enters and then disappears,” said Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA. “It is far from clear what happens inside.

“In the new Axel-Springer building, people and their interaction are the essence.

“The Axel-Springer building is a tool for the further development of a company in perpetual motion. It offers its users a physical base – a wide variety of spatial conditions, intimate to monumental – in contrast to the flatness of working in a virtual space.

“The new building on the campus in Berlin acts both as a symbol and a tool in this transition – a building to lure the elite of Germany’s digital bohemia,” he explained.

Faceted atrium punctures tinted glass facade

The building has a trapezoidal plan punctuated by powerful circular pillars and is configured as a single compact volume of imposing scale, crossed by a large central void – a sort of theatrical cavern opening onto the city through a fragmented glass casket.

Inside, the Axel-Springer building is planned around a “valley” of ten cascading floors, which gives rise to the 45m-high atrium echoed in the faceted exterior.

Each of these staggered floors is lined with a terrace, which each opens out to the soaring atrium to allow employees to interact and share ideas with each other across the space.

The terraces form a contrasting work environment to the more formal office spaces that occupy the rest of the building, positioned to the rear of each floor.

These workspaces are enclosed and marked externally by the “solid part” of the building, which is clad in the linear, tinted glass.

Bridges cross the atrium to link the workspaces

The Axel-Springer building’s two work zones are connected by 13 bridges, which offer employees a chance for physical encounters and communication.

This includes a “meeting bridge”, or viewing platform, which cuts through the atrium to provide panoramic views of the office.

The building is complete with a publicly accessible ground floor, which contains studios, event and exhibition spaces, canteens and restaurants, two basement levels and a roof-top bar.

“The common space formed by the interconnected terraces offers an alternative to the formal office space in the solid part of the building, allowing for an unprecedented expansion of the vocabulary of workspaces – a building that can absorb all the question marks of the digital future,” concluded Koolhaas.

OMA is a Dutch studio founded by Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis. It has offices in Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Dubai, Doha and Sydney.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to OMA for the information contained in this article:

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