When the great Foster Is building small

Kolakowski, Marcin Mateusz (1998) When the great Foster Is building small. Architektura & Biznes, 68 (3). pp. 12-16. ISSN 1230-1817

When Great Foster Tries His Hand at Small Things...[A&B1998/3]

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When Great Foster Tries His Hand at Small Things...
Well, maybe not so small after all. When you drive into Miilheim-and-der-Ruhr, you are bound to be astonished by a hybrid building which seems to combine two eras. It is the headquarters of the agiplan Gruppe, and whoever visits it will be able to find out that wings can be added even to a block of concrete. What follows is a press release of the practice which created it.
Foster and Partners’ new addition to the building, completed in May 1996, is one of several recent projects completed by the practice in the Ruhr since 1989 which seek to revitalise de¬pressed industrial areas and integrate new building into the older building fabric. The challenge for the agiplan project was how to extend its existing relatively modem 1970s of¬fice building, designed by agiplan’s founder, to create new office areas with a central space between the two wings which could become the heart and focus of the company for both staff and the public.
This 5200sqm addition has a sweeping curved facade which gives agiplan a dynamic new public face and new en¬trance. The building’s four storeys are centred around a dra¬matic 18-metre-high atrium which links the old and new wings. There are walkways across the atrium on each of the upper floors and a striking staircase connecting all floors. Its glazed roof allows daylight to penetrate the adjacent offices. The facade of the old wing, now on the atrium side, has been entirely removed and replaced by a glass balustrade mirror¬ing that of the new addition.
The building brings together under one roof all the agip¬lan departments previously scattered around the region. It provides flexible and cellular offices, a gallery and library plus an atrium accommodating temporary exhibitions, staff cafeteria, and reception area. A new open-plan office space has been created on the ground floor of the old building to be used for ad-hoc meetings and studio work. The atrium has an oak parquet floor while the office areas have a vibrant blue carpet.
The planning grid and floor heights of the new building match those of the old. Refurbishment has included exposing the underside of the impressive long-span curved concrete beams of the existing building. In the new addition, a half open, suspended ceiling provides acoustic insulation whilst still revealing parts of the concrete slab above.
The building is naturally ventilated along its perimeter. Return air is extracted via the atrium space, which helps to reduce energy consumption. Solar glare and gain are mini¬mised with the use of sun protection glazing and double glazed panels with integral louvres in the cavity. On the north facade, transparent thermal insulation maximises daylight into the cellular offices behind.
Foster and Partners were appointed architects in 1992. Construction began in January 1995 and was finished in July 1996.

Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K200 Building
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K110 Architectural Design Theory
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K210 Building Technology
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:18020
Deposited On:27 Jul 2015 14:34

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