Friday 27 Jan 2012


In October 2011 the SPIEGEL Group, whose stable includes Germany's most important news magazine Der SPIEGEL, moved into its new publishing house in Hamburg's HafenCity development.

This impressive structure on the Eriscusspitze, lapped by the waters of the River Elbe, was designed by Danish architect Henning Larsen. Ippolito Fleitz Group was commissioned to create a new employees' canteen for the building.

The legacy building's famous canteen was designed in 1969 by Verner Panton and has since been placed under heritage protection. This inheritance represented a particular challenge.

Verner Panton's canteen
The deliberations began with a question: could they integrate Verner Panton's iconic facility into a new concept? After careful consideration Ippolito Fleitz Group decided against adopting the facility.

One factor which spoke against redeployment was the polygonal format of the new building, where Panton's square-based modular concept would inevitably lead to virtually uncontrollable spatial remnants. Furthermore, the new building offers little in the way of large, continuous walls which are crucial to the Panton concept. The old building had three separate, compact spaces which Panton enlivened with the dynamic forms and colours of his ceiling topography. The new space, however, covers a large area and gives a strong horizontal impression.

But above all it seemed logical to them to complement the new architecture of the building with contemporary, future oriented interior design - exactly what Panton's facility once was for the previous building.

Starting point
The employees' canteen was and is a calling card of the SPIEGEL Group, reflecting its journalistic philosophy as much as its culture of dialogue - not least because of its prominent position in the building and its high visibility from the exterior.

Nonetheless it is a space which looks inward, only accessible to SPIEGEL employees and their guests. That means it isn't a "brand space" as such. The starting point for our deliberations was the characteristics of the space and of the building. The building distinguishes itself through its exposed position on the water and its modern architecture, expressed in the vertical interior space of the 14-storey atrium. The floor plan of the canteen defines a large, polygonal space whose strong horizontal emphasis is further highlighted by the uninterrupted row of windows on two sides.

Der spiegel canteen - interior design
Wood panelling lends a sense of depth to structural hubs. The whitewashed, varnished surfaces appear even deeper thanks to a vertical, wavy relief which gives a textile-like effect.

Through a zigzagging glass façade a separate area can be formed at one end for discrete events or for use of the canteen late at night. A shoal of bright, hanging Plexiglas rods creates glare-free illumination and an intimate setting. The glass
Façade between this area and the canteen is formed of doubly reflective glass. So at times when both areas are in use, the separation is almost immaterial.

However when the canteen is closed and thus darker, the façade appears half-mirrored, half-transparent.

The employees' canteen in the SPIEGEL Group's new headquarters is a space that meets all functional demands while creating a strong visual impact to form a truly distinguishing space. In so doing it supports the mature culture of communication within the company and in a grand gesture transmits these values to the outside world.