Baumschlager & Eberle Elelktro Graf
Baumschlager & Eberle Elelktro Graf Dornbirn, Austria
The existing, original building of the Graf electronics company had to be enlarged, as two additional, previously separate subsidiaries intended to move in to form one corporate compound. The architects were asked to design a building with a high visual impact, which on one hand documents the separate elements of the newly formed business, and on the other hand demonstrates unity. The conditions were delicate and difficult: there was a too attractive previous office and production building, and the soil conditions were characterised by an extremely high water table and almost endless layers of non-loadbearing gravel, up to and sometimes more than a depth of 300 feet.
For reasons of traffic and communication the additional research, production and storage space was placed in the form of a square on the same ground level next to the original buildings. This group was then to be. in the best sense of the word, bridged by an administrational and representational volume common to both parts, original and new. The front of the original building was masked for compositional as well as aesthetic reasons by wooden louvers, and the new building was conceived in glass and concrete. The bridge was formed as a boxed beam, in order to allow for the long span, which was dictated from below, spanning above the old original building. Because of the soil conditions, no additional load could be placed on top of the existing buildings, but there was room to build friction pile foundations on either side of the original building. This distance formed one leg of the span of the boxed beam bridge, which was then doubled to accommodate the spatial needs, as well as to reach over and connect to the new building. The boxed beam was executed in reinforced concrete, clad in plywood and painted orange-red. From far, this bright colour contributes to the desired high visibility of the newly formed building compound.
Because of the nature of the beam and thus the flow of forces, the fenestration is at the maximum allowable extent, in number as well as in height and width of each single unit. In the interior, the reinforced concrete structure, albeit painted white, was left exposed to allow for experience of the nature of the hollow beam.