A spacious new office with loft character
Exciting new times are afoot in the Dreispitz district between Basel and Münchenstein BL, where arts, culture, media and innovative companies have taken up residence. In the midst of it all is the new Rapp office, fitted out with furniture from Lista Office LO.
To one side, you have the HeK (the House of Electronic Arts); to the other, Atelier Mondial (which offers studio facilities for artists from the region) and the Basel College of Art and Design (FHNW) arts campus. Between them all is Freilager-Platz, an open plaza with urban character. This new plaza, located in the 50-hectare Dreispitz district between Basel and Münchenstein, is also the site of Transitlager: a former warehouse that has been converted into offices and apartments by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The building now houses the new office of the Rapp subsidiaries Rapp Architekten, Rapp Gebäudetechnik, Rapp Industrieplaner and parts of Rapp Infra. These companies were previously based at four separate locations. “The idea behind moving into the new office building was to bring together what belongs together,” explains Markus Widmer, managing director of Rapp Architekten. The intention was to pool the subsidiaries’ expertise, which spans different fields of integral building design, in a single hub with a capacity for 160 staff.
Combining several divisions under a single roof proved to be a challenge. Different company cultures and ways of working clashed. Not everyone was pleased at the prospect of moving from small cubicle-based offices to an open-plan office. “Our goal was to create an office with an open structure that fostered collaboration between different divisions,” explains Markus Widmer. The resulting office extends across two floors, with a total floor space of approx. 3,000 square metres. A window looking out onto Freilager-Platz runs across the full length of the office (114 metres in total). The open-plan office feels bright and airy, and despite some fears to the contrary is neither noisy nor impersonal. This was achieved by creating separate work areas, meeting zones and places for staff to go when they want to escape distractions. All-glass booths for meetings were built in a variety of sizes, and these booths have been named after notable Swiss architects and engineers such as Bill, Euler and Maillart. There are also various recessed seating alcoves, and then there’s the “agora”: a large, arena-like meeting room stretching across two storeys. Acoustic wall and ceiling panels (the former doubling as pinboards) help ensure outstanding acoustics.
According to Markus Widmer, Rapp specifically opted for the high-quality Swiss furniture from Lista Office LO to complement the light, subtle colour scheme and authentic materials. Furniture products such as LO Extend “twin” sitting and standing desks, LO drawer units and the cabinet system LO One add up to a harmonious, all-white ambience. Markus is full of praise for Lista Office LO’s excellent work: “The Lista Office LO staff were very valuable planning partners and did great work. We are very pleased with the quality, service and aftercare.” He adds that the new team culture has also developed positively. The staff feel very comfortable in the open-plan, transparent office. They recognise the benefits of this new working environment and are actively embracing working together under a single roof. “By contrast with the small offices where we used to work, I see this new, open-plan office as paving our way into the future,” is how Markus describes the advantages of the loft-style office building that the companies now share.