The widespread functions of the media group 'Schwäbischer Verlag' will be housed in one building in the city of Ravensburg, the economic centre of Upper Swabia. The proposed design reflects the ambivalence of the assignment. On one hand, the specific programmatic organization required by the multimedia concern demands a high connectivity between the various departments. On the other hand, exposure to the delicate fabric of the former free imperial city suggests a small scale.
Occupying several plots, the overall project integrates itself in the surroundings through its volumetric configuration and proportions. Six office cubes interconnected on a lower public level are literally enclosed by a transparent membrane to form one identity based on dissimilarity. Where a building element touches the fence, the latter becomes the building's façade; everywhere else, the fence offers sound protection and familiarity for the gardens behind. Despite this unifying band on the ground floor, the solitary quality of volumes characterizing the adjacent streets is retained.
Every viewpoint engenders unforeseen readings of the merging of the single volumes and the resulting silhouette. Beside the contextual intermediation, it projects a dynamic image of the multilayered publishing company. Due to its proximity to the old town, the urban villa is taken as a guide in terms of character and set-up to the progressive publisher. With respect to comfort and adaptability, representative villas and generous factory floors remain unrivalled compared with standard office layouts. Both typologies are appropriate for various uses beyond living and working, while the generic office space, associated with repetition of elements, is only accepted to a limited degree.
Therefore a series of stacked 'villa–storeys' linked to a sequence of equivalent patios creates the new 'home' for the complex requirements and operational speed of the concern. An intensive relation to the various outdoor spaces is traced back to the subject of the villa. The proportions of the respective levels ensure identity and territoriality of the different work units. The garden level contains the special functions; cafe, conference and event centre as well as a television studio are grouped round a central reception area, which integrates several additional functions. Depending on the particular needs, either the circulation or the programme is directly related to the façade.
The result is a meandering circulation zone that produces varying special conditions through its alternating depths and changing views. The patios together with a series of inner voids connected to the staircases ensure high 'residence' qualities and allow for dissociated insights and overviews, which in turn generates communication on a professional as well as an informal level.
The rectangular footprints of the upper spaces escape the typology of the usual office corridors and enlarge the number of high-value corner spaces. At the same time, during early and late shifts, when the building is less crowded, the spatial set up is experienced as comfortable, even domestic. The association with habitation and its positive ambience superimposes the one to a serial workstation.