Contemporary factories have become synonymous with soulless big-boxes. But not so in southern Germany, where manufacturers tend to be family-owned and have deep local roots. Add the intellectual capital of Berlin- and New York–based Barkow Leibinger partners Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger, and the new 538,615-square-foot production center for HAWE—a maker of hydraulic systems and components—is a creative facility that provides a humane workplace.
Sited just outside of Kaufbeuren—a town of almost 42,000 people—the factory is set in a rolling countryside with views of the nearby Alps. The firm’s design began with an eight-way competition in 2008, and was refined over the ensuing six years when construction was delayed by the worldwide recession.
“The initial schemes were more elaborate, with an origami-like roof,” Barkow says. The built scheme reduced the initial proposal to its essentials—a pin-wheeled plan around a central courtyard. Each of the four production halls sports a saw-toothed roof with 30-degree sheds that admit light through north-facing clerestories and provide the fulcrum for south-facing photovoltaic panels. Clad in horizontally scored insulated metal composite panels, each bay sports windows that use highly insulated channel glass for all but the lowest range, where triple clear glazing provides workers with views of the landscape.
The halls are constructed with precast concrete columns and beams. Mechanical and electrical services run along the ceiling to allow for a flexible floor that’s encumbered only by columns at 82-foot intervals. “You can’t design for any specific activity,” Barkow says. “Any current production activities will be obsolete in 10 years.” Each hall’s footprint (two can be expanded) was determined by fire code.
Support spaces are located at the periphery of the halls and in the areas between—where offices and a cafeteria overlook a landscaped central courtyard. A dark metal window wall denotes these spaces, including the public entrance at the north end of the factory. The interiors are light-filled and carefully detailed with articulated fins in metal and wood.
Today’s best factories are about supporting the local community and attracting talent. But the solution has to successfully answer very basic architectural questions. “It’s about integrating systems,” Barkow says. “It’s not a museum; it can’t be precious.”
The firm has made quite a name designing for manufacturers, though it is growing its portfolio. But “we’ll continue doing industrial architecture,” Leibinger says. And given their expertise, the HAWE facility is sure to inform other cost-conscious, yet aspirational, takes on contemporary manufacturing.
Project: HAWE Factory, Kaufbeuren, Germany
Client: HAWE Hydraulik SE
Architect: Barkow Leibinger, Berlin and New York—Frank Barkow, Regine Leibinger (partners); Martina Bauer, Natascha Bauer, Frederic Beaupere, Aki Nagazaka, Ruwen Rimpau, Morihide Seki, Jens Wessel (team design); Lukas Weder, Matthias Anke, Franz Brunnert, Ulrich Fuchs, Johannes Gestering, Michael Johl, Henrike Kortemeyer, Arne Löper, Mathias Oliva Y Hausmann, Andrea Hronjec, Ruwen Rimpau, Morihide Seki, Antje Steckhan, Jonas Troescher, Tim Unnebrink (team construction)
Project Management: Ingenics AG
Construction Management: Höhler + Partner
Structural Engineer: Dobler GmbH & Co. KG Planungsbüro
HVAC and Plumbing: Albrecht
Electrical Engineer: Christian Kaindl
Energy Design: Rögelein + Partner Ingenieure
Façade Consultant: Priedemann Fassadenberatung
Building Physics: Müller-BBM
Landscape Architect: Stefanie Jühling
Size: 50,039 square meters (538,615 square feet)