Media Building,
Schwäbischer Verlag, Ravensburg

It would be hard to imagine the Media Building of the German publishing house Schwäbischer Verlag—which houses the production of local and regional newspapers, official journals, advertising newspapers, and radio and television broadcasts— as a monolith with consistently uniform hallways and rooms. Therefore, the architecture designed for the publisher, situated somewhat to the east of the train station on a triangle-shaped property, has unique contours which at first glance seem arbitrary. However, a closer look reveals to what extent they relate to the architectural and spatial configuration of the surroundings.

The entire structure seems to display a movement from west to east. This impression arises from the fact that all three of the wings on the west side of the building have truncated, two-story-high termini, whereas on the east they come to a point and have three to four stories. The movement ceases in the pointed ends of the wings, marking the border between the newer, western parts of the city and older, eastern neighborhoods. With their pointed ends and their four instead of three stories, the two northern wings emphatically pay homage to the significance of the Gemalter Turm (Painted Tower), which dates from
the fifteenth century and is part of the old city fortifications.

Developed from an early sketch indicating the outlines of three fish, the cross structure and three wings are unified in a homogeneous and organic architecture, which captivates the viewer with its alternating inward and outward curves. There is great tension between the structure and the surrounding space, the interior and exterior, because of the fusion of the three wings and four courtyards.

Contrasting the building’s horizontal accent is the verticality of its glass enclosure. Due to the recessed placement of the rounded supports in the skeleton, the skin is able to appear as a single unbroken, even undulating curtain. Story-high casement windows with Venetian blinds alternate with equally high, sometimes wider, sometimes narrower glass panels, which have a warm copper-colored surface. A sound-absorbing wall of similar design on the north side of the building buffers the courtyards from traffic noise.

The entrance is located on the southernmost side of the two eastern courtyards. The relationship between the interior and exterior is emphasized here, since the view from the entry courtyard is carried through across the foyer and into the garden courtyard. Publicly accessible areas of the building—including event center, television studio, cafeteria, and parentchild area—can be found on the ground floor. The news offices, main editorial department, and online offices are located on the second floor. The fourth and fifth floors provide access to the roof terraces.

What is usually merely called a central access route is here a dynamic piece of architecture featuring two glass elevators and four stairways, each with single, straight flights. The rotation of the position of each set of stairs is not a cost-cutting measure but is intended to enhance the experience of the space, which is crowned by a round skylight.

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