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Virtual Pioneering

This is what a pioneering workplace could look like, created as a virtual office building. The core elements are flexible areas, spaces to foster communication on and with all the functionality required at any one time. When German office specialist Wilkhahn collaborated with Munich based architecture and communication on firm 1zu33, the aim was to create a state-of-the art office building that defined the standard for contemporary working. Their collaboration has achieved precisely that.

Anyone wishing to visit the project won’t have to drive or take a train, they need only switch on their computer because this project is a digital construction that can only be viewed online. However, the outcome of the design process is not merely some abstract mental experiment but a very specific structure that has also been given its own fictional address in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district.

Wilkhahn and 1zu33 determined that the office, imagined in an existing former warehouse, should function as the headquarters of a publisher of art books. Consequently it features all the spaces and resources that such a publisher would need. At the same time, the design is flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of alternative office environments. Throughout the project Wilkhahn and 1zu33 combined innovation with a high degree of functionality, self-evident in many sections of this virtual office building. 

The Innovation Room

The innovation room is located in a central area on the ground floor. Affording a pleasant view over the harbour and, with its large glazed doors leading to the terrace, it offers employees and guests alike an especially attractive space. This room is used for creative workshops, developing new publications and book series, discussing galley proofs and for strategic processes that involve larger groups of people. The space can also be used for events and celebrations. Both this room and the adjoining seminar room are available for booking by local firms to ensure it is used to the full and, In order to cater to such a large number of uses, the furnishing is diverse and flexible. The large open space at the centre of the room invites a whole variety of uses.

Wilkhahn proposed lightweight, easy-to-carry seating such as the Stand-Up stool that encourages movement and the pommel horse seat Sitzbock that allows users to sit or lean in a variety of ways. An ideal addition is the Timetable Lift which is a mobile, cable-free conference table, electrically adjustable in height . By rotating its top, it also doubles as a versatile whiteboard. Castors, battery technology and compact profile means it can be easily wheeled out of the room when no longer needed. The architects have designed a furniture storage space adjoining the innovation room and neighbouring areas that contain folding tables and lightweight seating can be partitioned off with transparent sliding doors. 

The Conference Room

More classic and intimate than the Innovation Room, the conference room is a new interpretation of a meeting space in the virtual office building. It’s located in a corner of the large gallery of the building and is primarily a self contained space. However, two sides of the room consist entirely of glazed areas so that occupants can look outside or into the adjoining office areas. Should greater privacy be needed, a curtain can be drawn on the window looking out towards the working area. The central feature of the conference room is a large oval table with seating for eight. Its shape promotes visual interaction while preventing an hierarchical seating plan where the boss sits at the head of the table. The planners opted for a table and chairs from the Graph series designed by Jehs+Laub for Wilkhahn. The modern design language of the Graph conference chair contrasts an organic seat shell with angular views through which is a fascinating variation on the Wilkhahn design that has received so many prizes. A light wooden floor, wooden table top, brown leather covers and a subtle colour scheme lend the room warmth and contribute to a calm and concentrated working atmosphere. 

The Kitchen

The Kitchen acts as a cosy, informal meeting place inside the gallery. Rather than a niche equipped with a kettle, coffee-maker and microwave, here employees can make use of a spacious area with everything they need for making refreshments while enjoying two comfortable seating areas for informal chats with colleagues – a great way of encouraging communication. A long wooden table means it is also possible for entire departments or larger groups to take a break at the same time. Bar stools provide the seating.

The kitchen adjoins the open office areas so that both are connected. For the seating areas, elements from the modular upholstered bench system Insit created by designer Wolfgang Metzger for Wilkhahn was chosen. It offers ergonomic and firm upholstery at a normal height for eating and working and is capable of a large number of configurations. This makes it an ideal choice for break areas, waiting areas, foyers and lounges. The armchairs from the Wilkhahn series Occo and the Graph tables, both designed by Jehs+Laub, are also featured in other areas of the gallery. 


The Team & Project Area

The Team & Project area forms the centre of the gallery. Here, the focus is on self-organised flexibility and multi-functionality. The objective was to realise practically any scenario here from an impromptu meeting to a meeting requiring significant support material right through to a conference or lecture. This has been achieved by using furniture that is easy to move with storage space for furniture integrated into the adjoining areas. It is here that pommel horses, stools and flipcharts for short, informal meetings are stored. In this area, the stackable Metrik cantilever chair and the Confair folding table are preferred options. The latter can be folded in one, simple step thanks to its sophisticated mechanism and can be moved about easily on its castors. Confair tables can be linked together quickly to create large work areas. 

What makes such versatility so special is that the furniture can be scaled up or down and applied to other spatial settings and other colour or material concepts. Wilkhahn furniture’s true strengths are its enormous flexibility and variety of finishes. 

This article has been adapted from the original created by Stylepark.com, the Global Destination for Architecture and Design and first published on 20 October 2020. 

Content © Stylepark | Images © 1zu33/Wilkhahn 

This article and more are on our Fresh Magazine Issue n.1 2021