HENN: International specialists for masterplanning
Interview with Martin Henn (HENN GmbH)
Brunner is visibly growing. In May 2017 two construction projects began: a new hybrid building, the Innovation Factory at the company site in Rheinau, and a future-oriented logistic centre on the nearby L87 highway.
Both structures have been designed by the international renowned HENN architecture office whose specialist fields include culture and office buildings, development, production and masterplanning. For the past 65 years, they have been making a worldwide presence with their advanced design methods and interdisciplinary research projects. At HENN, forms and rooms are developed from the processes, demands and cultural contexts of the respective project.
Speaking about the background, the inspirations and the challenges, as well as where and how this design approach is reflected in the masterplanning for the Rheinau site, is Martin Henn, partner and head of design at HENN.
An intensive and comprehensive planning phase now lies behind you and the project team. What tasks did Brunner entrust you with?
As a first step, and as part of a strategic site survey, we were contracted to optimise the processes and growth potential of the company site, which has grown gradually over the past 40 years. The findings from this survey led to the decision to construct the new buildings.
What particularly fascinated and challenged you with this project?
We were fascinated by the product and, of course, the production process behind it. During furniture production, a great deal of work is still conducted by hand. In a way, it’s very much like a traditional manufactory. With the Innovation Factory, the Brunner company wants to open itself both outwards as well as inwards, and we found this to be an exciting challenge.
Brunner is recognised in the industry as being a driver of innovation with distinct demands on functionality, quality and design. To what extent are these values reflected in the architecture of the Innovation Factory?
The Innovation Factory is a hybrid of different programmes. Development, design, prototyping and production all meet in open office environments, showrooms and in a cafeteria. Natural light and visual connections ensure the best working conditions and promote communication among employees. The construction and material make-up of the building has to a great extent been inspired by the product. That is why, for example, and in view of the coincidence, we chose a modular timber framework featuring highly specified details.
Brunner’s products are created by an interactive and cooperative process. In view of this, to what extent can the involvement of the building owner and the mark of the Brunner development process be felt?
The Brunner family were heavily involved in the process. Two-way dialogue and discourse resulted in the best ideas being generated. And in addition to a good architect, a good building requires an equally strong building owner.
HENN is a multi-award-winning, international firm of architects with offices in Munich, Berlin and Peking. It has over 65 years of experience in the fields of culture and office buildings, teaching and research as well as development, production and masterplanning.