Headquarters of Gustav Epple Bauunternehmung

Competition 2017 Execution: 2018 - 2021 Location: Stuttgart-Degerloch Client: Gustav Epple Bauunternehmung GmbH Hugo-Häring-Award Stuttgart 2023 Photography: Max Leitner

Powerful concrete building for Gustav Epple Bauunternehmung
The new administration building of Gustav Epple Bauunternehmung remains true to its roots: just a stone’s throw away from the old company headquarters, the striking building at the intersection of Bruno-Jacoby-Weg and Tränkestrasse in Stuttgart’s Degerloch district is the “face of the new location” and marks the start of the Tränke Industrial Park. The history of the long-established Gustav Epple company began in 1909 with the takeover of a small carpentry shop in Degerloch and is now—over 100 years later—continued in a sustainable, modern building that offers space for around 115 employees on a gross floor area of 4,300 square metres.

The transformation of the premises stands for change and the new company building for the values of the evolved company. In this context, the building materials wood and concrete play a central role, both in terms of design and function, and serve as a reminder of the history and philosophy of Gustav Epple Bauunternehmung.

Concrete as a character-forming building material
The result is a 3-storey, sculptural new building designed as a fair-faced concrete structure of insulating concrete. The building material concrete lends the building strength, vigour and its very own character, which underlines the architectural idea and additionally intensifies its impact in the interplay with the extravagant ground plan. The building thus presents itself on a footprint that is reminiscent of an isosceles triangle with rounded and right-angled corners, defining an elegant and soft building contour. The compact volume stands out self-confidently from the surrounding buildings and already represents the inner values of the company on the outside: innovation and progress as well as tradition and down-to-earthness.

Façade and insulation in one
In keeping with the company’s mission statement “Anders.Bauen.” (Building.Differently.), the monolithic exterior wall construction consists of 60-centimetre-thick insulating concrete, which was given its shape using a mixture of custom-made formwork elements and tried-and-tested system formwork. At the same time, Epple dispensed with conventional and artificially produced insulating materials, thus setting an example towards active environmental protection.

Structural novelty: inclined wall construction made of lightweight concrete
The unusual shape of the ground plan is also reflected in the special architectural cubature: the two upper floors are supported by three conical concrete cores that open up the building towards the street and the surrounding open spaces for visitors and staff. The challenge to realize a sloped wall construction in lightweight concrete is an expression of the inspiring and solution-oriented cooperation between the client and the architectural office. As a reminiscence of Epple’s history, the fair-faced concrete surface of the walls on the ground floor, modelled on a bevel siding, is reminiscent of a wooden structure. The horizontal grooving further adds a dynamic to the concrete cores at the corners and forms an aesthetic contrast to the otherwise homogeneous fair-faced concrete façade.

Ribbon windows characterise the façade
The three concrete cores together with the floors above form projections that generously roof the transparent entrance area facing the street and the terrace areas towards the open spaces—the glass surfaces on the ground floor are designed as a post-and-beam façade.
Large ribbon windows on the two office levels are designed as box-type windows (wood-aluminium elements) with deflection panes to protect against outside noise, and play with the shape of the building by “bending” around the curvature. At the same time, they reflect the principle of rotation used in the interior on the outside. The aluminium frame slightly protrudes from the façade, creating an interesting contrast with the receding ground floor.

Modern working environment through flexible room layouts
The interior of the building is also dominated by puristic-looking materials. Fair-faced concrete walls and smoothly polished concrete floors radiate calm and consistency. Warm wooden surfaces add emphases. The harmonious combination of the two building materials characterises the modern, minimalist appearance and creates a coherent overall concept that suits the innovative and tradition-conscious company.

At Epple, the focus is on the employee who is considered a member of the “family”. This is also reflected in the functional design of the building, which is conceived as a modern working environment in open-space offices on all three floors. The centrepiece is the bright atrium with a triangular floor plan that connects the office levels via a void and contributes to both orientation and community formation. A steel spiral staircase ensures short distances and promotes communication between the levels—the managing directors with their offices on the 2nd floor are a self-evident and always available part of the working world.

Decentralised meeting points and communal areas further support the innovative corporate culture that is based on networking. With wooden work boxes, transparent partition walls and podium levels, the open-plan areas can be used flexibly for meetings, copiers and teams. Several conference and event areas, along with a cafeteria and a fitness area, round off the interior to create a high-quality and productive working environment.

A large, partially covered roof terrace on the second floor is cut into the building volume to provide additional space for professional exchange. The same applies to the outdoor terrace and the lavishly designed garden with walkways, selected planting and various seating areas.

Architecture as a mirror of the Epple philosophy
The basement houses the underground car park and all the building services that control the company’s sustainable energy concept. Heating and cooling are supplied by means of a heat pump, a re-cooling unit and an underground ice storage facility. A photovoltaic system is installed on the roof.
The new Epple headquarters is a powerful building that combines unusual architectural ideas with new construction techniques and a high-quality appearance. Inside and out, this building impressively reflects the company’s self-image, and what’s more: it embodies the corporate philosophy of “Building.Differently.” in the truest sense of the word and does justice to all its facets, such as sustainability in terms of cost-optimised economic efficiency, resource-saving environmental compatibility and sophisticated spatial planning.