Sometimes you have to get things straight. This also applies to buildings. For this purpose, municipal residential company GEWOBA issued an invitation to tender that GfG was able to win with the approach of the reorganization of the building. The aims: modernization of the building complex, optimization of functional processes, up-to-date barrier-free design, orientation for visitors, and an open and welcoming foyer situation – nothing less than an architectural sweeping swipe. »The challenge was to create a structure. There was no clearly defined public or internal area,« explains Carsten Dempewolf, GfG Managing Director and head of the project. One result is the combination of an old stairwell and a new elevator to a central access area, that now no longer comprises only the ground floor and 4th floor, but also includes the cellar floor and above all the customer-relevant 5th floor. This elevator that is relevant to the visitors can now be reached directly in the newly designed reception area.
This approach is continued in the respective floors. »It is much easier and more conclusive now. If one arrives on a floor and comes out of the elevator, one stands directly in front of the information board. You do not have to walk a long way any more.« An important aspect because searching is not only time, it also makes impatient – and that spoils the mood.
The short paths and clear structures as well as the targeted use of light and selected materials create a quiet atmosphere. »We have developed the complete design language,« says Carsten Dempewolf. The standardisation of design has resulted in a coherent overall appearance. Work was done with little colour and large illustrations. This creates a clearly visible colour profile from the ground floor to the upper floor that supports the orientation system and guides the visitors intuitively. »That makes it more approachable and heartfelt.«
The reconstruction of the public area in the 1950’s office building lasted several months. A technically demanding task. »In the case of building conversions, there are sometimes additional challenges that are not known before,« explains the project manager. An additional challenge are the logistics. Conversion measures during ongoing operation require a great deal of consideration and sensitivity not only by the craftsmen. »This is extremely burdensome for customers and employees. It is noisy and troublesome. But restrictions and noise cannot always be avoided.« »During the reconstruction, we had to close ranks. Working was different, but still acceptable as well,« says GEWOBA sales representative Mrs. Köster. »But it was worth it. Customers arrive in a better mood because they had a more comfortable seat,« says Mrs. Leusch, GEWOBA sales representative.
During planning, the employees were taken into account with their needs and wishes. »After all, they have the practical experience and know about what is necessary,« explains Carsten Dempewolf. »The social distance is very important for our employees because, unfortunately, we sometimes have difficult customers,« explains Lars Gomolka. »This requirement has been taken into account by GfG and has been solved convincingly everywhere.« The result is a barrier-free, light-flooded, friendly, and welcoming building. Lars Gomolka is particularly pleased with the newly created entrance area. »In the past, you came in and stood directly in front of a column – not a nice reception.« Now the situation is quite different. The spatial use has been optimized and the waiting area has been increased so that there is sufficient space for wheelchair users and baby carriages. »And the accompanying kinship has room, too,« the project manager smiles. The cash machine is also easily accessible. It has been installed in the entrance hall in a place that is also easily accessible for wheelchair users. However, there is still room for manoeuvre. »Great is the fact that the entrance area can be expanded,« says Lars Gomolka. »It offers enough space for conversion. That means a high degree of flexibility.« And there is also a special eye-catcher: green moss surfaces cover parts of the walls in the foyer and create not only a surprising image, but also a pleasant room climate. Design with health benefits.
And what do the waiting customers think about the entrance area? »The atmosphere is very nice,« says one and another customer adds, »Yes, it is friendly and warm. Beautiful.« The balancing act between modern and contemporary design was important. »The clientele must not be intimidated, of course, and there must not arise any threshold fears,« Carsten Dempewolf describes the situation. »This requirement was one of the most important for us as a company, and the implementation of GfG has been a great success. The sterling quality is visible without being exaggerated,« emphasizes Lars Gomolka. And Peter Stubbe, CEO of GEWOBA, adds: