BAD DRIBURG (DE) - 'Leonardo Glass Cube', in the western German city of Bad Driburg, is the first permanent built work of the German practice 3deluxe. They were commissioned to design the new head office of Glaskoch GmbH, a family firm that has been selling glass- and giftware under the brand name 'Leonardo' for five generations. Glaskoch wanted a building that would proclaim the company's philosophy and vision; the result is a 'Gesamtkonzept', a fusion of architecture, interior design, graphic design and landscape design. The 2900 m2 open plan interior of the Leonardo Glass Cube can accommodate a variety of activities, such as product presentations, seminars and conferences.
The architects of 3deluxe like to play with the perception of space. In this design, too, real and virtual, orthogonal and organic are interwoven, invoking an acute sense of unreality. Graphically stylized, transparent nature prints on the glass facade create an alienating effect that is enhanced by the slightly 'milky' quality of the glass, which varies in colour and reflection depending on the time of year and the incidence of light.
The graphics used in the glass were printed at a resolution of 100 dpi over an area of 6 by 96 metres – an enormous mass of data. The PVB film was placed between the 6-metre-high, wide glass plates in 48 segments. Thanks to a special steel cable system (by Schlaich Bergermann & Partner), the 36-metre-long facade was constructed without supporting columns allowing unimpeded views in and out. But it is above all the interior around which this glass skin is folded – white, futuristic, almost unearthly – that captures one's attention.
The taut cubist envelope has an organic interior executed predominantly in cast white concrete. 3deluxe also designed the furniture and it, like the walls, ceilings and floors, is white. Seven amoeba-like internal spaces over two levels are separated by and accessed from a serpentine walkway. The futuristic character of the interior is reinforced by three sculptural pillars, dubbed the 'Genetics', which are made from an innovative product known as Natural Acrylic Stone, a blend of 75% natural minerals and 25% acrylic, that allows for seamless moulding. The organically shaped external 'columns', which are made of the same thermo-formable composite, find their counterpart in the sinuous network of white concrete paths surrounding the cube. The resulting interplay of lines helps to anchor the Leonardo Glass Cube in the landscape where it radiates what both architect and client strive to be: innovative and visionary. (Hannah Schubert)