Lufthansa, Frankfurt / Main
The new Lufthansa headquarters, a representative building, whose transparency symbolises the open and cosmopolitan character of one of Germany’s best known companies, has received many awards, among them the RIBA Award 2008, the International Architecture Award by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the award of being Green building Partner of the European Union. Its main challenge was to provide high quality and open-plan offices while effectively insulating the building from the busy surroundings.
The Lufthansa site enjoys great accessibility but has a high noise and emission load because of its proximity to Frankfurt Airport, the airline’s main hub. In plan, the building is shaped like a double-comb with ten “fingers”. The offices are protected from their hostile environment by means of garden courtyards between pairs of fingers. The eight gardens and the offices are covered by elegant vaulted roofs, made of either concrete or glass. The landscaped atriums insulate the building against sound and emissions. All 1850 workplaces have views onto the gardens and are naturally ventilated. The gardens act like lungs, enabling the building to breathe.
The offices wings with five or six floors form a central “street”, where employees can meet casually. The gardens’ vegetation is chosen from five continents to symbolise Lufthansa’s global connections. All gardens are accessible and can be used for relaxation as break-out space or for small conferences. They also act as thermal buffers and improve the micro-climate and sound. All offices are oriented towards winter gardens that are heated only through the adjacent offices. The ecological concept supports healthy work environments. Wooden windows and floors create a warm atmosphere. Flexible office structures allow for reversibility and equality of workplace, making the working conditions more inspiring and team oriented. Spontaneous interactions are encouraged by open zones. Each employee can open and close their windows individually and step out onto a little inner balcony. A sophisticated control system can overrule wrong decisions. Since there are no suspended ceilings, the concrete floor slabs can be thermally activated. The new Lufthansa headquarters at the centre of Europe’s most efficient transport hub is marked by simplicity, clarity and legibility.