Under HENN’s design direction, The Merck Campus in Darmstadt has undergone a gradual transformation from industrial works to contemporary technology campus, keeping pace with the global shift from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy. The Merck Innovation Center, completed in 2018, is the heart of this newly modernized campus, and represents a new kind of office space—a flexible work space for a mix of dedicated employees and temporary teams engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration.
Project Name: Merck Innovation Center
Studio Name: HENN Architekten
Client: Merck KGaA
Location: Darmstadt, Germany
Area GFA: 21,950 m²
Program: Flexible office space, Communications area, Meeting room, Company restaurant Consultants: Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure (Structural engineering), ZWP Ingenieur-AG (MEP), Müller-BBM (Building physics), KFE – Kucharzak Fassaden Engineering (Facade planning), Lumen³ (Lighting design), Topotek 1 (Landscape architecture)
Award: MIPIM Award 2019 (Finalist), European Concrete Award
Certification: 2018 (Honorable Mention), LEED Platinum 2018
Partner in Charge: Georg Pichler
Team: Michael Sadomskyj, Wolfgang Krebs, Andreas Hahn, Susanne Paulisch, Joana Schwarz, Axel Mierisch, Gisela Albrecht, Katrin Jacobs, Mira Schröpfer, Alexa Rautenberg, Anne Henkel, Martina Fabre, Thomas Hein, Wolfgang Malisius, Christian Abicht, Martin Erdinger, Dirk Breuer, Christian Rassmann, Katja Schuppelius, Andreas Lindig, Wolfgang Wrba, Ralph Hempel, Annkatrin Kirschner, Gert Trinks, Theresa Brandes, Susanne Sohst, Attila Horvath, Denise Gellinger, Oliver Koch, Mark Böhmer, Jovan Topalovic, Christian Bechtle, Patrick Bröll, Peter Weber, Wolfgang Mühlhölzl-Hirschmann, Stefan Sinning, Anna Cwik, Ibrahim Saad
Set back from Frankfurter Strasse, the Innovation Center creates a generous new public space, the Emanuel Merck Platz. Clad in louvred glass, the restrained orthogonal exterior of the IC hints at, but never fully reveals, its dynamic interior landscape.
Inside, the Center is expressive and formally exuberant: interwoven concrete slabs – supported by only four interior chrome-plated columns – arch across the space; steps and ramps spiral upwards; and floors delaminate to create a continuous spatial experience.
Floors slope gently upwards – alternating moments of compression and expansiveness—to create a gradually inclined floorscape of easily traversable, column-free work spaces. A nod to HENN’s own architectural lineage, the Innovation Center is a three-dimensional, almost literal, Bürolandschaft or office landscape – an office topography.
Office of the Future: Organized along a diagonal axis, every level has two work areas—a mix of quiet and collaborative functions—including a library and co-creation space on the first floor and a workshop space on the top level. Punctuated by four atria, the interior is highly porous: the paths between work areas are traversed effortlessly and the move from one level to the next is seamless, almost imperceptible.
The fully glazed exterior and sound-absorbing ceilings ensure a brightly lit, quiet work space. Merck products and technologies are seamlessly integrated into the interior: lighting; finishings; skylights; and OLED technology used in the Light Cloud art installation and Media Wall monitor installation.