saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Burda Moden publishing house
1953-1954, Extension 1959-1960

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Burda Moden publishing house

One photograph alone cannot reveal what is so remarkable about this building: in the sixties, countless straightforward office buildings like this were erected. However, Egon Eiermann's offices for Burda Moden were built at a much earlier point in time, actually anticipating what was to become a general development. The most innovative feature of the building was its structural design: the façade is not-as in so many other later buildings-a simple curtain wall, but a load-bearing structure specially developed for this project. In the planning process, Eiermann consulted not only engineers but also the local contracting firm Müller, who specialized in steel construction-the firm would subsequently commission him to design a new office building of their own. From this close collaboration the Burda building was developed as a kind of experimental project: the façade is composed of chamfered steel sheets that were used for the supports and perimeter girders and accurately welded together on the site. The load-bearing steel skeleton was then painted light blue before the window elements of white-painted wood were installed. The spandrel panels were designed with different heights, depending on the function of the various spaces, thereby achieving a subtle rhythmic pattern within the standardized grid of the façade. Although he usually did not have a say on the interior design of most of his administration buildings, Eiermann was asked to furnish this building not only with chairs of his own design, but also with built-in closets, shelving, tables, etc. Included in this work was a desk for his client, publisher Aenne Burda, who designed her fashion collections in this building and also had the prototypes tailored there. The floors were covered from wall to wall with linoleum. Installation of lightweight partitions on a grid with spacings of 1.7 meters that could be easily moved or removed when needed helped to maximize flexibility in the use of floor space. The standard of the technical installations was unusually high according to the criteria of the post-war years: telephone and power sockets were installed in the window breasts, and the ceilings were equipped with heating reflectors. The innovative aspect of the building also turned out to be its weak point, however. Eiermann had decided to fill out the filigree hat sections of the hinged supports with poured concrete-not just for structural stability but also to prevent corrosion. Looking back, this solution cannot be considered a success. As the stability of the façade and thus of the entire structural system was increasingly impaired by corrosion due to the weathering of the welding seams, demolition of the entire building seemed to be inevitable. Fortunately the office of Ingenhoven and Partner carried out a careful reconstruction with great attention to detail in the late 1990s; and the successful conversion of the building which now houses the IT headquarters of the Burda Holding, showed that it was indeed possible to preserve the building and to adapt it to new uses without replacing the original structure entirely.

Carsten Krohn

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 165

Project-specific information

Project Burda Moden publishing house
Persons involved
  • Egon Eiermann und Robert Hilgers, Architektur
Project period 1953-1954, Extension 1959-1960

Object-specific information

Typology Bürogebäude, office buildings

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Offenburg