saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Buildings Neckermann Versand KG mail order company
1958-1961, Design for an extension 1964-1965

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Buildings Neckermann Versand KG mail order company

After setting up his mailorder business in 1950, Josef Neckermann took only a few years to turn his firm into the leading company of its kind in Germany. This rapid growth called for a large-scale expansion of the various facilities situated in nine different premises in and around Frankfurt am Main. To meet the future challenges, a comprehensive project for integrating the widely dispersed functions was considered essential.

In keeping with the requirements of the workflow within the company, Egon Eiermann designed a highly compact complex centering around a huge, 257-meter-long structure housing both offices and packing and shipping facilities. Added to this were a heat and power station, a gatekeeper's building, garages, a filling station, and a shop for employees. To allow for the processing of up to 150,000 orders per day, a system of rapid in-house transport as weil as an efficient administration were needed. Eiermann solved this difficult task by placing the two office floors above the four-story handling and shipping floors. The latter were generally laid out on an open plan to facilitate unhindered movement of goods using forklifts and conveyor belts.

Aside from administration offices, the two upper floors also house the required amenities for the employees. A spacious cafeteria with a partly glazed shed roof opens to the side-as almost all the administration spaces do-with a glazed exterior wall. In addition, natural lighting is provided by way of a series of enclosed courts. With the Neckermann project Eiermann was able to realize once again his long-time aim, already adopted before the war, to enrich the working world by providing it with at least visual access to nature.

The spacious, transparent quality of the interior architecture is also apparent from the outside. Running around the entire building on each floor are external galleries that emphasize the dominating horizontal design of the entire complex, set off only by the diagonally placed exterior stairs, and a number of vertical units containing staircases, elevators, and sanitation facilities.

All the buildings were completed within a mere two years from the day the architect was commissioned with the project. As the site was the largest in Europe at the time, this extremely tight schedule could only be met with a highly efficient organization of construction, and a maximum of economy. As an example, the expansion joints, required in all concrete structures, were used to subdivide the entire complex into different sections, so that several contractors could begin construction simultaneously. Thanks to the successful synthesis of technical functionality and subtle aesthetics, the mailorder house Neckermann was the second project, after the German pavilions at Brussels World's Fair of 1958, which won Egon Eiermann widespread international acclaim.

Arthur Mehlstäubler

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 183

Project-specific information

Project Buildings Neckermann Versand KG mail order company
Persons involved
  • Egon Eiermann und Robert Hilgers, Architekturbüro
Project period 1958-1961, Design for an extension 1964-1965

Object-specific information

Typology Verwaltungsgebäude, administration buildings; Lagergebäude, warehouses

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Frankfurt am Main