Berlin’s central train station, built by the architects at GMP Gerkan Marg and Partners, is the largest and most modern connecting station in Europe. Deutsche Bahn AG, one of the world’s leading transport and logistics providers, constructed a new office building in the complex’s two soaring arches that rise above the aboveground tracks of Berlin’s city trains.
The glass-covered arches, 183 meters long and 22 meters deep, stretch 46 meters above the entrance level, 12 storeys into the sky. 1,200 employees from the company’s core departments work in the new building. The company has set new standards in intelligent building utilisation and innovative office layouts.
The DB project team worked with the Quickborner Team to furnish this extraordinary complex in the heart of Berlin. The renowned consultancy, with its focus on organisational building planning, provided crucial support to DB AG during the design, user coordination and implementation stages. DB relied on their expertise and experience to develop the best solution for forward-looking work processes.
In order to implement DB’s requests and requirements, a multistep process guided the search for the right partners. The first step focussed on the work areas, and the next on the communication zones. Bene was able to establish itself in both phases, offering persuasive proposals that won against those of big-name competitors. The decisive factor here was the resonance of shared ideas about modern office design as an essential catalyst for a contemporary corporate culture.
The planners placed the open offices on the longitudinal glass sides of the complex, with a view of Berlin. The Quickborner Team structured the patterns and density of the workplaces to reify optimised, transparent processes. The planners wanted to compensate for the supposed loss of privacy compared to the individual offices of the past, by providing highquality furnishings and recurring design ideas that provide orientation within the building.
The pattern of work surfaces with medial communication zones, Think Tanks, cloakroom, meeting points, technical room and storage is repeated throughout the building. In every 400 square meters, there is an autonomous office landscape that represents a discrete version of the overall recurring pattern within the whole complex. Each unit contains variations within a set range of design options. Every organisational unit was able to participate in the decision-making process for their own space.
The over 1,200 new standard workplaces have the same surface and furnishing features everywhere. The right furnishings, designed to carefully consider personalised work styles, were essential for the new transparent office landscape. Bene, Europe’s leading office furnisher, offered a custom solution. An innovative, unique and excellent world of work was created.
Different workplace typologies were defined by using a specially developed toolkit based on Bene’s T Platform workplace programme. A maximum height of 1.15 meters was set so that people could still see around them while seated. Following Bene’s philosophy that “the work-place is not just a place where you write – it’s a complete infrastructure”, the workstations in each area of the building simultaneously offer transparency and privacy.
Alternating seating and standing options are available, offering employees a variety of com-fortable choices. Yet it is still possible to concentrate on one’s own work, to have quick and easy conversations, and to ask questions or make requests. In addition to the personal workplaces, the open office layout also provides spaces for privacy and concentration, for conferencing and informal exchange. Think Tanks permit work requiring concentration and customer meetings in a separate atmosphere.
Bene’s calling card is its ability to create a dynamic variety of spatial solutions that weave through the building like a red thread. Employees can use different areas as they need to. Meeting tables and stand-up tables from Bene’s T-Meeting product line stand at the ready.
The communication islands convey creative relaxation and are painted in the red of DB’s corporate colour. Their configuration is based on the modular PARCS furniture collection from Bene, which offers cubically open upholstered designs as well as private wingback chairs called Wing Chairs. This has created varied arrangements whose aesthetic qualities recur at all levels. The constructive clarity of PARCS offers a wide latitude of open seating worlds and closed seating groups. The programme satisfies the requirements of ergonomics, media integration, and a private sphere outside of the work area. Its design is selfconfident, intimate and comfortable. It sets a modern, sophisticated tone without being imposing.
The open lounges in the office units’ central areas are enhanced by meeting points, which have the quality of VIP areas. As both a quiet oasis and employee meeting space, this area offers an extraordinary world of design. Walls and furnishings in DB’s corporate red convey an agile atmosphere, and fine wood veneers impart cosy warmth.
Whether at the standing tables in the tea kitchen or in the seating islands, employees use the team areas to relax, hold discussions, wait for meetings or have brief private discussions during breaks. Changing places with PARCS enables spontaneous meetings, personal contacts or working together.
The entire building becomes a workplace, whether at an individual desk, in the communicative central zones, the Think Tank, in one of the conference or project rooms on the eighth floor – everywhere, employees find the right places for the work they’re doing, and at any given moment they are at eye level with their team and the whole company.
In the final analysis, it’s the quality of daily encounters that juxtaposes modern work with the hierarchical distances of the past. Motivation and role modelling have replaced directives and power. The office design contributes to the improvement of quality and efficiency.