The Phoenixssee in Dortmund, a larger city in the industrial Ruhr area in Germany, today covers a large area, that was a site for steel production until the last century. Here, not far from the shore, Microsonic chose its location for the bronze administration and production building between other commercially used buildings. The internationally operating company produces ultrasonic sensors, which are completely developed and manufactured here. The final assembly of the components is completely visible to passers-by and helps the employees to have a light-flooded workplace.

Studio name: Friedhelm Kuche 360
Design team: Friedhelm Kuche, head of design, Anke Buchheister, interiordesigner
Grafik design team: cyclos design, Münster
Architecture team:  F&G Geddert, Architektur und Städtebau, Düsseldorf und plus4930 Architektur, Berlin
Area: North Rhine Westphalia, Germany
Year: 2017
Location: Dortmund
Photography Credits:  Roland Borgmann Fotografie, Münster

Microsonic by Friedhelm Kuche 360 - Sheet5
ⒸRoland Borgmann Fotografie, Münster

At the time we were commissioned with the interior design concept, the shell of the building had already been erected. It quickly became clear that the focus should be on guided customer visits. In addition, employees from production, administration and development departments should mix in the building when using the shared cafeteria, thus contributing to a better sense of community. After visiting the various production facilities, test laboratories and development departments, the visitor moves up the building and finally reaches the conference room, in which a small, illuminated display is intended to show that the sensors shown on it are the basis of the corporate world that exists today.

Microsonic by Friedhelm Kuche 360 - Sheet6
ⒸRoland Borgmann Fotografie, Münster

A closer look reveals different types of lights along the paths in the long corridors. Extremely long lines of light are intended to symbolize the rapid processes, while communicative locations are marked by selective lights. The break area, a cafeteria on the first floor, is now an open, lively meeting place for all employees. In contrast to the light color of 4000 K consistently used in the building, the break area is illuminated with 3000 K in order to create a more comfortable, relaxed atmosphere here. Originally, the room was to be separated from the open staircase with a folding glass wall. However, we felt that the fully open area would encourage much more communication and would have great appeal as an impromptu meeting space during idle times. In fact, Microsonic decided on this experiment, which has remained unchanged to this day. The reason for the experiment was that there was concern that the volume at lunchtime would bother the employees in the open reception area on the ground floor too much.

Microsonic by Friedhelm Kuche 360 - Sheet8
ⒸRoland Borgmann Fotografie, Münster

During the planning process, there was excess space on the second floor, where administration is located, that seemed to have no real function. We considered simply leaving out the surrounding walls in order to create a kind of open space that could be used for various functions: for meetings, as a forum for discussions or for presenting new ideas from the marketing team. Equipped with a mobile table, printer and the post office for the employees in general, the room is now also used as a temporary workplace for field staff and thus integrates the colleagues who are rarely there anyway into the team. A large stainless steel ring set flush into the floor marks this special place and symbolizes the collaboration.

Microsonic by Friedhelm Kuche 360 - Sheet9
ⒸRoland Borgmann Fotografie, Münster

At the end of the tour of the building, a large stair sculpture leads back to the foyer where the visit began. The staircase, freely installed in the multi-storey room, was composed from black steelby the architects based on the location of the former steel production. A backlit pattern of holes forms a link to what is produced at this location today. It is an expression of the high-tech products that are produced here: a sonic lobe, a visualized measurement result from ultrasonic sensors that are produced in Dortmund and used all over the world.


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