saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Buildings Ciba AG
1948-1952

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Buildings Ciba AG

In 1948, the Swiss Ciba AG asked architects Werner Hebebrand and Egon Eiermann to draw up separate proposals for a new location in Wehr for its pharmaceuticals and dyestuffs divisions. Egon Eiermann was commissioned to realize his design.

From the original extensive planned construction program, the Ciba Pharma buildings were the first built-in two phases. The main building housed the production areas, offices, staff facilities and building technology. The gatehouse was linked with the main building by a plate-glass corridor, and there was a separate garage wing.

Eiermann attached importance to the integration of the building into the landscape. His initial preference was for a five-story version of the main building, and he planned to break up its compact mass by means of a transparent façade. What was in fact built was a lower, more extensive structure consisting of two full stories and a receding top story. What is more, the building was to be clad in "plenty of greenery" and not to stand alone "like a naked sparrow."

The main building, running from north to south, incorporated both offices and production facilities. The tripartite ground plan allowed for different axial dimensions for the laboratories and production facilities to the west and the offices to the east. The central section housed common facilities, ancillary rooms, and light wells. A third story, set back from the eaves, housed the kitchen and canteen, with access to the roof terrace. Generous bright light, with a color scheme to assist the natural light, along with cleanliness and transparency inside the building, was intended to reflect the way in which a drug company intent on maximum hygiene worked.

Given the scarcity of construction materials after World War II, the main building was designed as a reinforced concrete skeleton structure, with glass-clad partition walls and staircases in the central section made of steel. In this building Eiermann incorporated Germany's first post-war radiant ceiling heating system.

In a second phase of construction, starting in 1950, the main building was lengthened to accommodate, for the most part, the production facilities. In this second phase, Eiermann devised rear-ventilated cladding to eliminate structural faults that had arisen in the first phase around the wooden sliding windows and window breasts built flush with the external wall.

Several more additions and conversions were undertaken after 1952, but these were not handled by Eiermann's practice.

Friederike Hobel

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 147

Project-specific information

Project Buildings Ciba AG
Persons involved
  • Ciba AG, Bauherr*in
  • Egon Eiermann und Robert Hilgers, Architektur
Project period 1948-1952

Object-specific information

Typology Industriebau, industrial buildings; Nebengebäude, accessory industrial buildings

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Wehr