Architects BIWERMAU and Wilfried Köhnemann have erected an office building made of timber in Alfeld, Lower Saxony, Germany. The medium-sized company Fagus-Grecon's new customer centre offers 1,200 m² of floor space for 60 employees. The entire load-bearing structure and large parts of the interior have been constructed using the laminated veneer lumber BauBuche.
It was on this site in 1911 that Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer erected their world famous factory. The Fagus factory is considered a landmark in the development of modern architecture and industrial design and, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a listed building. At the time of its erection at the beginning of the 20th century, the historic Fagus factory was unique in offering modern industrial workplaces geared to the needs of the employees, in that they were clean, dry and well-lit. A steady growth in sales and increasing demand for training and other professional services meant that by 2013 the company needed more office space.
And in keeping with a tradition that began during the German Empire, the company has opted for contemporary architecture and state-of-the-art building materials. With a respectful nod to the Fagus factory's century-long production of shoe lasts made of beechwood, the load-bearing structure and interior of the now finished construction have been made using BauBuche from Pollmeier. The new building was designed by the architecture office BIWERMAU (Hamburg) in co-operation with Wilfried Köhnemann, an experienced Hamburg architect who has acted as consultant to the company for more than 30 years, particularly within the context of its special World Heritage requirements.
In harmony with World Heritage
The focus for the architects was to reconcile the wishes of the clients with all aspects and requirements of a listed building, of the UNESCO World Heritage and of the town of Alfeld. Finished at the end of 2015, the new building annexes two existing flat buildings and, in terms of urban development, now completes the ensemble of historic and contemporary production and office buildings running alongside the road to the south east of the premises. With its striking façade made of cedar wood and openings rising vertically across both storeys of the building, the new customer centre is now as much a landmark of the factory premises as the distinctive chimney. Accommodating 60 office workplaces over two storeys, the slightly slanting floor areas are accessed via a central corridor area running lengthways through the building. The second storey is designed as a recessed top floor, housing a conference room and two training rooms and an all-round roof terrace for the al fresco enjoyment of all visitors.
Load-bearing structure and interior design with BauBuche
The erection of the new building as a timber construction was based on the wish to incorporate various GreCon products, many of which have long-standing affiliations with timber, such as fire protection and measurement systems. For the client, it was crucial to use innovative construction materials that GreCon customers manufacture using plants and systems made in Alfeld. "Pollmeier is also one of our customers", said Jörg Hasener, Client Project Manager. "When they launched BauBuche on the market, we immediately thought to ourselves, that's just the perfect material to build with" he continued, reflecting on the planning phase.
The laminated veneer lumber from Pollmeier was deployed in a multitude of ways, such as for the load-bearing structure, which was constructed in a skeleton design using columns and beams made of BauBuche. This was Thomas Mau's first time using BauBuche and the Hamburg architect was certain that it had been such a positive experience as a result of the excellent material quality. The clients and the architect also chose BauBuche for a range of internal components, thus creating a harmonious overall look to complement the visible timber frame structure. The window soffits were given a distinctive BauBuche cladding and even the office partition walls, the large conference tables and various desks were made from this robust and attractive material.