Client: Birkenstock Group
Project team: Susanne Brandherm, Andreas Jacob, Kim Falger, Livia Chan, Nadja Lauerer
Location: Köln Rheinauhafen
Photos: Joachim Grothus
Impressive working environment
How can open meeting and office spaces for modern forms of work be integrated into a historical harbour warehouse? This was the exciting task facing brandherm + krumrey when designing the headquarters of the Birkenstock Group in Cologne. Areas for office work, meetings and coworking along with a lounge, café and showroom were to be accommodated in a former customs and warehouse dating from 1898. The elongated building in Cologne’s Rheinauhafen was originally used to store oils, fats and petroleum. Today, the imposing building is part of the ensemble comprising restored heritage buildings and modern architecture such as the well-known Kranhäuser (‘crane houses’) that characterise the old harbour area in the cathedral city.
Within the framework of the historical warehouse halls, brandherm + krumrey developed a customised interior design for Birkenstock’s diverse requirements. The headquarters of the international fashion brand in the Rheinauhafen quarter provides over 2,000 square metres of open-plan office space for creative work. Around 150 fixed and flexible workstations are distributed over the ground floor and the four upper levels. Instead of open-plan offices, individual areas were created to cater to different needs. Particularly impressive are the ground-level Halls 11 and 12, for which brandherm + krumrey designed a modern working environment with a showroom. A historical cross vault and round columns made of reinforced concrete characterise the evocative ambience of Hall 11. Here, glazed and closed cubicles accommodate functions for individual and team work or meetings, so that the spacious impression of the room is maintained. Loosely arranged display furniture is additionally used as storage space for office purposes and as plant shelves. Showroom areas for the world-famous shoes were also created in the neighbouring Hall 12 and combined with workplace functions. New Work tables specially designed for the project complete the ensemble of high-quality furniture and carefully chosen materials. The centrepiece of the interior design are two circular, open meeting zones with seating arrangements and upholstered furniture that invite relaxed exchange in a special atmosphere.