© Adam Letch
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In their design for the new head office and production site for Kirsch Pharma HealthCare GmbH inWedemark, Germany, SAOTA rethinks the often underwhelming and generic industrial prototype.
The site of German‐based Kirsch Pharma HealthCare’s new factory and headquarters inWedemark, Germany, is a somewhat anonymous industrial zone without distinctive contextual cues. South African‐based architectural firm SAOTA approached the project with the understanding that a meaningful architectural response to this environment would require a building that stood as a sculptural object in the landscape, making a strong architectural statement that imparted a sense of presence and identity in its ownright.
Kirsch Pharma HealthCarespecialises in the production of finished pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements (oral dosage forms) for the pharmaceutical, nutritional, biotechnology, veterinary and cosmetic industries. In addition to an efficient state‐of‐the‐art factory, the company also required a reception and office area that would articulate its ethos and identity while tying together the office and production facility. It also aimed to create an uplifting work environment for its employees while instilling in them a sense of institutional pride and wellbeing.
The design of the factory building was dictated largely by functional requirements and consists of a simple rectangular structure clad with light grey steel cassette walls forming a skirt or slightly projecting section of façade under which slips a layer of graphite grey-coloured trapezoidal sheeting. This façade treatment creates a sense of lightness to what would otherwise appear monolithic, while dramatically incised lines across the façade’s surface further break up its mass. The factory’s positioning was carefully considered to allow room for future growth and expansion.
The adjacent office and reception building, on the other hand, required a departure from generic industrial forms – a welcoming and uplifting environment that would complement and express the nature of Kirsch PharmaHealthCare’s activities while intelligently humanising its aims and advancing its purposes.
While the office area maintains an essentially rectangular form, and consists of a reception area, boardrooms rooms a conference room and offices, SAOTA contrasts the office building and the factory building with a striking sculptural canopy over its main face and entrance. This bold, futuristic form helps orientate visitors and guide them towards the arrival point while mediating the transition from exterior to interior.