Vitra Offices, Weil am Rhein

The Brief

Vitra wanted us to create a workplace that encouraged interaction and collaboration. They wanted a flexible, ‘breathing office’, that could handle changing methods of work, reflect Vitra’s spirit and showcase and test Vitra furniture within an actual working environment, whilst using it to test their new furniture ranges in a real world setting.

The Challenge

The existing Vitra office was on the mezzanine floor of the Grimshaw designed factory building. Dominated by a huge, rolling wave ceiling, high screens separated the various teams, limited the natural light and masked the views of the beautiful countryside. Instead of reflecting the spirit of the company, the space acted as a mere container for the workforce and hindered any attempt at work culture innovation, easy communication or a shared common purpose.

The Solution

We wanted to make a space that allowed for better ways of working and which embodied Vitra’s fresh, innovative approach to design.

Stripping back the existing interior to the building’s basic structure meant we were able to create an entirely new environment. Using a raised timber platform, we created a thoroughfare through the office that passed shared facilities like the café, mailboxes, informal meeting areas. By placing study booths, break out benches and copy areas on the edge of the platform, away from more dedicated work areas, we were able to delineate the space in a natural way.

The edges of the platform were defined by a free-standing wall system made up of high and low birch plywood panels. These were designed to be easily and quickly erected and adapted to suit work needs. The high walls marked out an area for archiving and storing office materials, and the low walls allowed everyone to enjoy the views. We also installed two new external patios to introduce natural daylight and fresh air to the office, creating an alternative outdoor workplace.

To make the huge space more human, we broke down the large open-plan area to create intimate work group hubs by using moveable canvas-wrapped panels, hung from the concrete beams with cargo straps. Sofa areas for relaxation, individual reflection and team meetings added a sense of mobile sociability to the workspace.

The Reaction

“This is one of the most inspirational workplaces in the world.”Kay Newman, Vitra“This is office culture par excellence. Sevil Peach has introduced new trends that every office designer will have to take as an example. I seriously believe that this office will become a place of pilgrimage for architects and their clients.”Hanns-Peter Cohn, Vitra CEO “Sevil Peach is the only architect I know who takes pleasure in the office seriously.”Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra Chairman

Following the completion of this project, Vitra was awarded ‘Best Medium Office 2000’ by FX. The project has received extensive press coverage by Blueprint, CNN, De Morgen, De Architect, Domus, Deutsche Horizonte, FX, La Tribune, RIBA interiors, Vogue Business, Wallpaper and Workplace.

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Friedel Amman, Ramesh Amruth, Mark Eggimann, Miro Zagnoli