Designing a trend-setting and identity-forging office complex for the company – not in the form of a new building, but through the renovation and redevelopment of an existing one – demanded a complete rethink. The remit: to transform the existing monolithic, washed concrete block housing Munich Re’s headquarters into a modern building that sits confidently in its built environment. The task list for the project included energy optimisation, naturally lit individual offices, roof terraces and pavilions as well as reusing the load-bearing structure and incorporating 50 per cent of the building mass into the new structure. Highly symbolic in a time of limited resources.
The overall design is dominated not by the technology but by an overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity, a certain naturalness.
But more than refurbishing an existing building, the project sought to repair the very urban fabric of Munich’s Schwabing district. The old complex was broken up and the space restructured with the creation of new atria, indents and recesses. Going further still, the architecture opens up the entire area, providing permeability and transparency, but always with reference to the immediate built environment as new elements mirror the proportions of the neighbouring Art Nouveau villas. The double-shelled facade with shimmering, green, storey-high glass panels is eye-catching and provides the building’s thermal skin.
Inside, the lobby – a 50m-long hall with marquetry-like wooden floor, walls and ceiling – makes a bold statement. It serves a number of purposes, doubling up as main entrance, auditorium, cafeteria and events space, providing access to the rest of the building and setting the tone of the building’s interior design.
A user-friendly working environment, light and artThe offices are light and friendly, bright and contemporary. Intelligent facades, new atria and taller windows provide better lighting and spatial quality as well as helping to reduce energy consumption. Other features that make it such an agreeable place to work are the outstanding collection of art – both inside and out – including works by Keith Sonnier, Peter Kogler, Aribert von Ostrowski, Felice Varini and Olafur Eliasson, and a large interior courtyard complete with trees and water feature that has proved very popular with staff on their breaks.