Which architects were responsible for the design? A Darmstadt-based office, of course. Which steelwork company? Also based in Darmstadt, of course. And which stairs manufacturer? Based in… Salach, of course! We talked to the former project manager Uwe Ritter, architect and member of the executive board of the architect’s office Planquadrat, about this fascinating building and its equally interesting interior.
The first thing you see when looking at the building is that the first floor projects adventurously over the entrance area. This design, which suggests easiness and lightness, was only possible because of its composite steel structure. You find it hard to believe your eyes – and to trust the structural calculation.
Uwe Ritter said on this topic: “This steel structure provides for a very open design and a very flexible usage of the various floors. This is the apparent design feature. Another feature can be seen inside the building. When you stand in the light-flooded foyer, you see a sculpture rather than steel stairs. A dark grey-coloured monolith. We deliberately created a contrast to the orthogonal building structure.“
The ground projection of the steel stairs is a rounded triangle, similar to the kidney-shaped tables from the fifties …
“”The steel stairs have a soft shape and wind up in gentle curves. When you look at the ground projection, the geometry of the steel stairs appears to be relatively simple and clear: three stair flights, two intermediate landings. The three-dimensionality creates the spatial effect. The curved shape of the steel stairs contrasts with the austerity of the building and detaches from it. The steel stairs are self-supporting with only one bracing…“