State of the art office infrastructure in former Zion Church

State of the art office infrastructure in former Zion Church

With the acquisition and renovation of the Zion Church, zeroseven design studios have fulfilled a longcherished wish: Within walking distance from Ulm‘s city centre, the digital- and communications agency now resides in the former premises of a residential building and place of worship built in 1905 by the Protestant community. Until its reconstruction, the Zion Church on the ground floor was the meeting point for the Evangelical Methodist Church. Instead of hiring an external architecture firm for the design and implementation reconstruction measures, zeroseven design studios relied on their own creativity and skills. Under the direction of architects from zeroseven design studios belonging to the group and corporate architecture specialised in brands, a room design was built on 334 square metres that combines modern office infrastructure with historic charm.

The continuous growth of zeroseven design studios in recent years made the move to new premises an urgent requirement. After a long search, agency founder Thomas Seruset came across the building for sale and saw rebuilding the historic Zion Church as the opportunity to preserve the old building while at the same time emphasise the identity and philosophy of the agency with a clear interior design concept.

While the exterior walls of the monument- protected building, especially the east and south sides with superior sandstone façades and brickwork, still largely demonstrate the construction period of the building, full renovations in the sixties completely robbed the church of its historic character. Pictures show its original state and served as the basis for planning the reconstruction measures. The goal - and in some cases the specifications of the Monument Protection Office as well - was to preserve existing historic features and work with the condition of the protected historic monument sensitively. Interfering with the building structure was accordingly avoided as much as possible. New changes were made in the size and design of components, completely new reconstructions were avoided, and builtin furniture was favoured for cabinets, shelves, etc.. Where it was possible, the architects even went a step further and helped give features that had been lost a new shine. For example, the previously existing lancet windows were restored with historic glazing bars, the stucco ceiling concealed under a wooden ceiling was exposed and restored, and formerly existing heating niches were also incorporated in the new design. In addition, the room layout and the spatial structure of existing openings and air spaces were largely retained. For example, the former light outlet in the staircase is now a prominent feature with a designer lamp.

Customers enter the premises of the agency via the solid wood church door decorated with fittings. In the entrance area, the reception is the focal point. To the right, the foyer opens and you have a view of historical stained glass windows. They form a harmonious unit with the white fixtures and small pieces of furniture as well as the specificallyused oak elements. A glass interior wall is used as a divider for the meeting room. The bar table set up in the foyer provides an additional meeting option for brief meetings and creative brainstorming. Behind the rear wall of the reception desk there is a small kitchen for hosting agency customers. Light plays an impor- tant role in the entrance area under the former gallery as the stained glass windows are located on the east side and - reinforced by the internal insulating glass windows - let in little light. Indirect lighting and spotlights above the reception desk and the bar table light up the room optimally and create a comfortable atmosphere in the entrance area. Left from the desk, framed by a semitransparent curtain, another glass partition gives a view of the former church hall and today‘s creative and development department with 20 free work- stations. In the centre of the entrance there is an integrated cross where the alter used to be on the preserved back wall made of handmade tiles.

Because the acoustics of the church hall were unsuitable for office use, an extensive sound insulation design had to be implemented. Custommade soundabsorbing wood joiner separating elements with a grooved structure between workstations and a 4.10m high and 10m wide likewise grooved back wall as well as a preserved grey looped carpet absorb the sound. The separators between workstations provide additional privacy for focussed work. The restored stucco ceiling sits up at a height of 5.9m above the 105 sqm room - it is the centrepiece of the new agency offices not just because of its size, but even more so because of its effect with delicate plaster mouldings and ornaments.

The former gallery can be reached via a staircase directly from the reception area. From here you have a beautiful view of the work area as well as the 3.60m high lancet windows situated on the south and west sides. The business and project management offices are housed here on the upper floor. Two offices with a total of four work stations open into the room. To get an unrestricted view and the feeling of spacious- ness here, the parapet and the interior walls of the offices were made largely of glass. In the back of the gallery there are two single executive offices as well as an additional office with four workstations framed by monumentprotected stained glass windows. The office furniture on the upper floor is again dominated by the colour white and is an elegant contrast to the highquality oak industrial parquet and the interior glass walls.

In the planning phase, there was a detailed inventory in terms of building, construction, building connections and monument protection. It became clear that because of the change of use from a church to an office, static upgrades as well as fire protection measures had to be implemented. As part of the energy- efficient renovations, windows and heating were replaced; in addition, the entire electrical installation as well as the toilets were modernised. Underfloor heating throughout the ground floor was decided on as the type of heating, especially in order to make the large church space comfortable. In the winter, radiators underneath the windows provide extra heating.

With regard to fire safety, the planning application required upgrading the ceiling to F90 quality. However, that would have meant having to take down the preserved stucco ceiling from the church. This ceiling had been concealed under a wooden ceiling for many years and thus was so well preserved that the Landmark Preservation Office favoured the restoration. After a thorough consultation and working closely with the City of Ulm and the Ulm Fire Department, the required fire protection requirements could be compensated with a fire alarm system.

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