Work From ‘Home’—at the Office in This Innovative Space
The German pharmaceutical company Roche Diagnostics had a huge office space when they first contacted Studio Alexander Fehre—almost 4,000 square feet with ample light and air, in the southwest city of Ludwigsburg. What they didn’t have, they felt, was a community. The administration and production departments came and left through the same area, but rarely saw each other throughout the day. So the brief became, as Fehre explains, “to design a place between the offices and the fabrication/production. It was intended as the new ‘heart’ of the re-used building.”
A large corner of the production hall was the perfect place for it. “We decided to look at it like an outdoor space and build some wooden houses,” Fehre says. “A little village inside the large hall.” They constructed four of traditional timber, each with its own individual organization of work and meeting spaces. Three-layer panels light up when the houses are occupied. Two of them are connected on upper levels by a footbridge, while translucent white staircases unite them with the ground floor. There, wood decks create various zones for meeting, collaborating, and recreating.
“The aim,” Fehre says, “was a bit more on the emotional side, and also offer the employees a special place to meet, work informally, and come to visit outside of the home office.” Little touches of home pop up throughout: a ping pong table here, an ersatz courtyard there with thriving greenery, transversely-braced industrial lights, and gathered textile facades. But the idea is to beckon employees back and into the company fold. “It is a sort of post-Covid space,” he says, “a space without typical workdesks, where people can meet in person and experience the values of the company.” They can take those values to heart, Fehre hopes: After all, as the unmissable white letters near the lobby explain, the space is now known as the Herzzone or, in English, the “heart zone.”
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