The engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens planned for its new headquarters in Munich to be at once urbane, modern, and refined. For a workplace to reflect the technological sophistication of the company, Siemens undertook an exhaustive international architect-selection competition. Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects and interior designer Landau + Kindelbacher of Munich were chosen to design a new home that fully embodies building-as-system thinking.
The architects and designers created a complex that embodies the concepts of integration and transparency while achieving the highest sustainability standards. Designed to be certified platinum by both the German Sustainable Building Council and the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED, this is perhaps Europe’s most sustainable office building. An innovative, modern, light-filled composition that unites the past and the present—the Siemens headquarters exemplifies technological acumen and enhances the public’s experience of Munich.
Connecting with the urban fabric
Siemens had outgrown a mix of Munich structures, including the landmark-protected Ludwig Ferdinand Palace, a Leo von Klenze– designed structure from 1825 that had housed Siemens’s central administration since 1949. The new complex, which includes the renovation of that building with connected new construction, totals approximately 485,000 square feet for 1,200 employees. The architects worked with the city of Munich to ensure that the urban design of the complex further complemented the adjacent Wittelsbacherplatz.
“Siemens wanted to create a highly innovative building that fit seamlessly into the urban context and showcased world-class efficiency,” says Louis Becker, design principal, director, and partner at Henning Larsen Architects. He added that the city of Munich wanted “new pedestrian passageways… to connect the inner city with the art district.”
Henning Larsen designed a contemporary building that links to the historic palace and an adjacent building. “With its open succession of courtyards and passageways, [Henning Larsen’s] winning design developed exactly the urban campus quality we desired, creating an entirely new experience for the city and its citizens,” says Thomas Braun, general manager of Siemens headquarters at Siemens Real Estate.
A seemingly open building inside and out, the headquarters reads as a rectangular volume in plan that is punctuated by four oblong courtyards. Three landscaped courtyards connect to provide a passageway through the building’s ground floor. The fourth courtyard—an atrium covered with a glazed roof and an automated, retractable sunscreen textile with a low-E coating on the inside— forms an interior spine, accessible from all sides, at the heart of the headquarters. In addition to the courtyards, the ground floor— completely open to the public—features a cafe, restaurant, and fountain. Four floors above contain open-plan office and auxiliary spaces; while the two highest floors house management offices.
Throughout the headquarters, themes of integration and transparency support Siemens’s ambitious sustainability goals. The courtyards meld with the urban context, affording glimpses both into the building and out toward the city. Inside, workstations border floor-to-ceiling windows, and angled facades along the courtyards allow sunlight to penetrate the lower floors. Abundant glass reduces the need for artificial lighting and enables employees to visually connect with their colleagues and their surroundings. Interaction is further fostered by the open-plan workspaces and the central atrium, which unites the office floors.
Landau + Kindelbacher, the interior designers for the public and office areas, collaborated with Henning Larsen to create an elegant, understated environment in grays and white, complemented by occasional bursts of color. Local limestone acts as a unifying element, linking the facade, courtyard pavers, and interior flooring. The lobby, located in the atrium, features limestone floors, a white Corian reception desk with brushed steel, whitened-oak wall panels, and a bank of glass elevators. This material palette extends upward in an amalgamation of white structural elements, glass walls, and steel mullions and handrails.
On the office levels, a variety of seating options are available including colorful rounded poufs, intimate arrangements of charcoal-toned leather chairs, and white-and-gray workstations with adjustable sit-stand desks and black ergonomic chairs. Other notable spaces include an employee cafe featuring warm oak floors and panels that offset the white-and-steel tables and chairs. A large conference hall with a limestone floor includes one interior wall that is formed by the adjacent facade of an existing building—a dynamic integration of the old and new. LED lamps illuminate these and other areas, supplementing the copious light that streams through the glass facade.
Setting a standard for sustainable office buildings
From the start, Henning Larsen worked to “optimize the design to achieve the lowest possible energy need,” says Becker. The design incorporates a range of sustainability measures, including the use of recycled materials, triple-glazed glass, photovoltaics, rainwater collection, and Siemens’s state-of-the-art automated technologies that regulate the interior environment and the building itself. For example, glass window slat positions change throughout the day in response to sunlight. And employees can manually adjust the heating and air conditioning in their work areas as needed.
The building embodies Siemens’s values. Indeed, “the new corporate headquarters,” Braun says, “is a visual emblem of what Siemens stands for: transparency and capability, innovation and sustainability, tradition and the future.”
who Architect: Henning Larsen Architects. Architecture project team: Louis Becker (partner responsible); Werner Frosch (partner, project manager); Klaus Troldborg (project manager); Katrin Riemenschnitter; Konstantin König; Anderas Schulte; Ani Zakaryan; Birgit Kann; Carlos Pereira López; Danijel Schneider; Dominik Nocon; Eileen Dorer; Irena Nowacka; Johan Karmedula; Karla Benoit; Laura Schmitt; Moritz Kerschbaum; Peter Weinzierl; Priscilla Campos Carrasco; Sascha Stscherbina; Sonny Holmberg; Jakob Stroemann- Andersen, PhD, and Martin Wraa Nielsen, PhD (sustainability). sources Competition team: Louis Becker (partner responsible); Kostas Poulopoulos (competition lead designer); Silke Jörgenshaus; Vanda Oliveira; Blanca Ulzurrun; Carl Lyneborg; Christian Schjoell; Jie Zhang; Nico Schlapps; Omar Dabaan. Interior designer: Landau + Kindelbacher Architects. Interior design project team: Gerhard Landau; Ludwig Kindelbacher; Angelika Donhauser; Christine Sellmeijer; Marina Hampel; Martina Olters. Contractor: Züblin; Strabag. Consultants: PHIplan; PMI; SMV Bauprojektsteuerung; UPDOWN Ingenieurteam für Fördertechnik; Digitech; RBS Projekt Management; Unit-design; SakostaCAU; Geosys-Eber Ingenieure; KSM Baumanagement; W+R Schirmungstechnik; Langreiter Mobilfunkplanung; Archibrand. Lighting: ag Licht. Engineering: Werner Sobek; Transsolar; Kuehn Bauer Partner. Kitchen: Hans-Peter Mühlethaler Consult. Landscape: Topotek 1. DGNB Certification: Drees & Sommer. LEED Certification: Baumann Consulting.
what Hard flooring: Zeidler und Wimmel Flooring by Gifafloor Carpet/carpet tile: Vorwerk. Lighting: Nimbus; Siteco. Doors: Hörmann; Schörghuber; Neuform; Forster. Architectural glass/glazing: Uniglas. Shelving: Zambelli Metalltechnik. Elevators: Thyssen Krupp. Sunshades: Warema. Facade: Starbag Metallixa; Sapa. Roof: Seele Cover. Exterior surfacing: HD-Wahl; Fa Hofmann Naturstein.