The new Jansen Campus lies in the village of Oberriet, in the Rhine valley, one of the most industrialised areas of Switzerland. The company is currently run by a dynamic young team and though in existence for almost a hundred years, the last ten years have seen a particularly rapid expansion into international markets.
The motivation behind the construction of the new building has been to create a space that would have a positive and productive effect on the creativity of the executives, researchers and employees of the company. Throughout all the phases of design and construction, there has been an underlying and continuous concern in investing in human. This innovative social approach has been consistently supported throughout the project by the company and the challenge to deliver such a building has been met with great satisfaction by all involved. The project is the result of a genuine collaboration between Jansen and the design team. Having worked with architects for many years, developing and tailoring solutions, the clients have a great appreciation of architecture and were keen to apply their experience and expertise to finding solutions for their new building.
The new building was preceded by sort of mini urbanisation of the Jansen site, resulting from the necessary expansion of existing industrial structures and which then allowed for the creation of spaces on a human scale within the existing fabric. This has led to the formation of a series of spaces that evoke the atmosphere of public squares. Given the site’s potential for further development, the project has adopted the name 'CAMPUS- Campus für Innovation und Technik' - evoking a place of production, sharing, learning and research.
The project began three years ago with a concept design and has become a reality that has taken on regional importance, representative of genuine Swiss quality, design, craftsmanship, construction and economy. Jansen is committed to the sustainable management of its production and logistics and in keeping with the company's ethic and technical excellence in this field, the building meets the exacting Minergie standards, with efficient energy use and the reduction of environmental pollution ensuring the enhanced quality of life for the users of the building and a competitiveness in maintenance costs. The building for example uses ground water for the heating and cooling and runs on a heat recovery system, drawing attention to the company's experience in energy efficiency and production of photovoltaic elements.
JANSEN CAMPUS- A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE DNA OF A PLACE AND ITS FUTURE
The site for the construction of the new Jansen Campus lies at the north end of the industrial complex and is bordered by the small scaled residential expansion of the village. This particular site allows the new building to insert itself as the link between two different urban scales- at once acting as the face of the industrial area while also reducing to the scale of the village. This reduction in scale has been achieved by fragmenting the mass of the building into four. Each of the four volumes has a floor area of circa 200sqm, a size approaching that of the surrounding residential buildings.
Once the primary issue was resolved, that of how the architecture of the new building would find a balance in terms of scale within the urban space, the question moved to what kind of character the new presence would express and looked to the context, the fold of the land, the existing fabric and the sense of place for answers.
Oberriet, like many other built landscapes in Switzerland, is typified by a multitude of different sized inclined planes, sloping in different directions, that, quite remarkably achieve a very pleasant visual and spatial balance. It is the sloping roofs and their game of shadows and reflections throughout the day that characterise the built space of this place. In fact, at a perceptive level, the facades of the buildings lose their importance, assuming the supportive roles of the great inclined plans. The new geometry of the Jansen Campus has been generated by this complexity of the 'games of planes'.
In plan, the building follows a triangular geometry and, reflecting the reading of the built space, this geometry is again found in the elevation of the volumes. The four triangular shaped volumes, with respect to their internal functions, are modelled with their relationship to the surrounding landscape in mind. As such they reflect the 'game of planes' of the village, both in elevation and in their roofscape, where the highest parts face its industrial family, the lower parts sloping down to greet its residential neighbours. In order to emphasise the idea of collectivity and to underline the social principles of the company, the four volumes are organised in such a way as to avoid a classical composition of hierarchical spaces.
The internal landscape is articulated as a fluid space, almost as if it were formed by an extension of the urban streets of the village, a system of solids and voids expanding in all directions. The apparent mass of the new building is dematerialised internally, flooded with natural light teeming through the generous openings and grand slicing overhangs that project the users out to the landscape. The building also draws from the extraordinary beauty of its natural surroundings and recreates part of this external atmosphere within its own internal landscape.
Outside of the areas that have been specified for the production activities and logistics of the company, a new organic landscape has been created as an extension of the surrounding environment. The design of these “green areas” is influenced by our perception of space, considering both the external and internal views of the building. Taking into account the perspective views, the spaces appear to expand and dilate. This spatial perception works in tandem with the scale of the building, the types of trees and shrubs planted and the changing of the colours with the seasons.
The new Jansen Campus is also characterised by research, carried out during the design, on innovative materials and technological solutions- some used for the first time in construction. For example the semi structural facade, produced by Jansen, is a new system produced in such a way as to guarantee a continuity of the reflective, glazed and transparent elements of the building, without the need for external support mechanisms.
In order to build the sloping roofs of the building, a system of adding fibres to the concrete casting was developed. By doing this, this guaranteed that the poured cement would adhere to the metal reinforcements. An innovative radiant system (TABS), partly produced by Jansen, based on thermal mass principles, has also been integrated into the structure; heating and cooling circuits have been installed directly into the concrete structure forming the floors and ceilings, ensuring the quality conditioning of all spaces.
The facade is clad in a dark pre-patinated perforated Rheinzink mesh. This particular finish gives the material a colouring that evokes the density of the tones of the wooden buildings of the surrounding area. Used for the first time as an external cladding, this ‘skin’ has the particular quality of making the building seem ‘light’. The facade shimmers with reflections and shadows, changing throughout the day, with the changing of the hour and the light of the day; a constant dialogue between the material, light, the environment and the elements. It is hard to find the same conditions twice! The density of the mesh, the dimensions of the panels, the distance of the fixings from the wind protection layer- all contribute to giving an appearance of three-dimensionality to the facade. The modular design and the tight stretched mesh play a role in the scale of the building and make it interesting and pleasurable for approaching visitors.
The Jansen Campus, both internally and externally was almost entirely built using resources available within a few kilometres of the site. This fact highlights the entrepreneurial strength of the region, the commitment to sustainability principles and the focus of efforts towards effective energy savings.
In order to allow for the fluid flow of daily working life, spaces intended for collective use have been placed adjacent to the main lifts and stair while the more intimate working spaces lie further along from this circulation. The structural functions of the building are assumed by the perimeter walls of the triangles, allow for a free plan internally with a high degree of flexibility and possibility of future divisions. Currently the spaces are organised about a three-dimensional grid that corresponds to the company’s functional structure.
The public functions are distributed from a reception zone on the ground floor. Rooms for meetings, business lunches and a restaurant all lead off this area. Also on the ground floor, beside the reception is an office known as ‘Mission Control’ representing the operational heart of the company and acts almost like the stock market floor, where all information regarding the operations of the company is processed here in real time. On the first floor there is a space named "Kreativbereich", a workplace and informal meeting space open to all, much appreciated by the employees, a teaching room with foyer and other meetings rooms. An open plan office for the communications section is located on the second floor, and on the third is the boardroom with a panoramic terrace.
Individual offices and more intimate working spaces requiring more privacy are distributed along a spiral, with their area increasing as the spiral rises. The northern-most triangular block houses the operations wing of the company across two floors and on the upper floors are the offices of the directors responsible for this sector. The south triangle houses quality control and the executives responsible on the second floor. In the basement there are ca. 1000sqm reserved for the archives, mechanical rooms and technological systems.
THE INTERNAL LANDSCAPE
The composition of the internal landscape follows the principles of architecture, offering a continued reduction of scale of the main volumes and the allowing for the reading of the surrounding environment through the choice of furniture, materials, colours, lighting and green elements. For example, the finish on the hardwood timber flooring emulates the chromaticity of the ground outside. The 120 interior plants and the small potted plants spread about the work spaces and stations, further reduce the scale of the green landscape, bringing it right it in close to the hands of the employees; a continuation of the lush valley of the Rhine right onto their desks.
Despite its apparent sophistication, the atmosphere of the internal landscape reflects the principle of reducing details to a minimum. The constructive elements are therefore always explicit and follow the rationale and economy of the site and the project, giving the space a technical, industrial atmosphere.
The suspended ceiling required a long planning process and considerable effort by those specialists involved. The technological elements- the ventilation, audio, sound absorption, lighting, motion and smoke detection systems- were condensed with great precision within one sculptural element that runs through the spaces and accompanies users about the building. These ceilings, along with their decorative function, emphasise the meaning of the space. Two versions were designed, depending on the height of the space in which they are located. Compared to a traditional fully suspended ceiling covering the entire roof area, this solution meets the same functions yet it is more economical. In addition, the materiality of the ceilings, through the interlaced layers of mesh and light has an increased effect on the perception of the space and its three-dimensionality.
The white RAL 9016 used as a base colour throughout the building was chosen for its neutral characteristics and to accommodate the designers’ wishes to create a colourful, warm internal landscape without creating an emotional tension for the users. This may seem contradictory however through the expedient and daring use of colour on concealed surfaces, the Campus offers a welcoming and warm atmosphere. The building is alive with hidden colour; coloured elements peek out from behind the perforated metal of the office furniture, from the acoustic panels of the walls and ceilings, behind sand blasted glass, from brightly painted niches reflections and shadows of colour emerge indirectly. At the same time, other areas of the building were deliberately coloured and provide an ulterior reading of the internal landscape. These three dimensional abstract surfaces are not simply physical walls but serve as mnemonic reminders that accompany users throughout the building, creating a sense of belonging in this internal composition.
By the spatial management of these different scale, repetitive elements, the user gains a sense or orientation and security. Perception is continually stimulated, in a harmonious way. Great consideration was also given to the choice of furniture elements and works of art in this delicate task of managing perception.
THE COMPLETION OF A VISION
Alongside the building itself, the ‘architecture’, a botanical park has been created, a contemporary art collection initiated and new innovation furniture solutions have been designed.
The work of creating the park involved the planting of 80 trees of 35 different species that have existed in the Rhine valley for at least the last 200 years and as such it takes on a didactic role in explaining the region’s landscape. The new park also stands as an example for transforming industrial areas, more often than not characterised by swathes of inhospitable asphalt surfaces. On the weekend, these spaces that were once limited to industry have now become places where the local villagers can enjoy a stroll.
The attention to detail found in the building has been seen through to external landscaping. With the presence of a fountain (rainwater retention-retrieval), pathways, places to stop, decorative elements, the public nature and the idea of a gathering space is emphasised.
Art, with respect to this project, has taken on a profound significance and not only with regard to patronage. The choice of enriching the daily life through art works of young contemporary artists, already established internationally, reflects the intention of interacting with the complexity of our contemporary life to involve the staff of the company in an opening up to the world of culture, exploring new limits that go beyond the industrial and commercial reality.
The acquisition of those works was born, like the building itself out of social principles of work. Contrary to the traditional art investment for a work in-situ, and thereby explicitly connected to the building, it was preferred, within the same economic parameters to take the more ‘dynamic’ route that has potential for future expansion and development. Along with the experience of an art curator, the client and the architect took on the task of analysing the motivation behind it and creating the condition that it should respond to its place in time. The result of this work has led to the acquisition of over twenty works of art that meet criteria which are- living contemporary artist, hailing from different countries, preferably young and at the beginning of their rise to international art market (so as to be able to understand their particular research path). The works must have also been realised within the past three years (the period corresponding to the design and construction of the Jansen Campus) and have a connection to the theme ‘nature and technology’; nature to bring primordial inspiration into industry; technology as an affinity for the effort in creating new technologies that echoes the company’s philosophy.
The artists included in the collection are: Barbara Probst (Germany), Christine Streuli (Switzerland), Darren Lago (United Kingdom), David Nash (United Kingdom), Dong-Jeong Kim (South Korea), François Boisrond (France), Haruiko Sunagawa (Japan), Jung Lee (South Korea), Loris Cecchini (Italy), Lutz und Guggisberg (Switzerland), Mattieu Mercier (France), Nigel Hall (United Kingdom), Phyllida Barlow (United Kingdom), Robin Rhode (South Africa), Sopheap Pich (Cambodia), Tanja Roscic (Switzerland), Wolfram Ullrich (Germany).
A work from the studio of architect Davide Macullo is also included in the collection.
In addition to the art works and also by the architect are 90 i-Scapes, extracts of his digital diary; drawings done on an IPhone and printed in large format on Plexiglas. These prints are objects and scenes from everyday life that are intended to have a positive influence on the observer.
Just as in the attention given to every detail in construction, the same precision and care went into the choice of furniture and the lighting and technical elements in the building.. It was decided that the furniture pieces would be products of the recent generation of designers, the result of a particular technological research, be of resistant and durable materials and reflect the philosophy of Jansen. They needed to fit harmonically into the new spaces of the Campus and naturally, be economically competitive. It was decided to involve just a small number of producers in order to have trusted preferential partners with who a constructive working relationship could develop and whereby, in the common interest, products could be adapted to the clients particular requirements. Following ev aluation, the choice was limited to three companies, two Italian and one Swiss. With their help and their input, further selection criteria was added, some pieces were modified to meet the exigencies of the client while new ad-hoc solutions were found for specific spaces and functions.
Some objects however were not available on the market and were custom designed by the architect and the clients. These include the reception desk, the coat hanger in the restaurant, the ‘Stammtisch’ (long table) and chairs in the ‘Kreativbereich’, the tables for video conferencing, decorative lamps and the long oval table (7.5m) in the boardroom and the ‘Bäumchen’ (the logo of the architect that evokes our affinity with nature) external stone seating.
This process of researching the market for suitable products and designing alternative solutions where needed was followed not only with furniture but with all construction elements. Some of the most important are the suspended ceilings, the rainwater drainage channels, the electrical shafts and the mounted intercoms at the office doors. Each one of these elements were realised following the principles of industrial production and take into account economic competitiveness. The new elements were designed so as not to cost more than the market would offer and are intended to produced as standard products to place on the construction market.