Address: Landgrafenstraße 106-114, 53842 Troisdorf, Germany

Sector: Commerce & Industry

Year: 2014

Architect: Urmetzer + Schiefer

The technology company Varian Medical Systems commissioned a new administration building near Bonn, accommodating up to 150 people, and which was developed in cooperation with the Cologne based architects Urmetzer and Schiefer.  The focus was on concentrated working and team work. As much as cancer therapy requires respect, it was still necessary to add certain cheerful accents in the open space area.

The US based company, with its headquarters in Palo Alto, California, is a pioneer in cancer therapy. The company, which employs more than 6,300 people worldwide, has a portfolio of various radiation and proton therapy systems and the recently developed EDGE radio surgery suite, which is currently seeing its first use in Lisbon and Detroit.

Varian has offices in 25 countries. One of the subsidiaries is in Troisdorf near Bonn. A new two floor office building was constructed next to the existing manufacturing building from the 1950s and now houses 70 members of staff.  The design is by the Cologne based architects Urmetzer and Schiefer, who were in constant communication with the Palo Alto headquarters during the entire planning process.

"Due to the terrain situation, the building had a 13 m deep block, however, only one side would be exposed to light," says architect and project manager Michael Urmetzer. "This was a real challenge. Therefore, we came up with the idea to establish a type of open loft solution." This meant that across the entire length of 47 meters, there is a light gap in the roof, which supplies daylight to the offices at the back of the building.  A carved in gallery on the first floor allows indirect light to reach the ground floor.

Bene was involved early on in the planning process of the interiors and together an open space concept was developed with different zones of office islands for eight to eighteen members of staff, including several acoustically separated room boxes made of glass. Special solutions were designed by the architects, such as bar elements, a tea kitchen, and the reception desk in the foyer which is a formal reference to the medical proton devices the company manufactures, complement the furniture range.

"We put all our spatial ideas on paper and Bene then took these ideas and visions and created a furniture program from it," says Urmetzer. "Bene has been helping us even with the special solutions by referring us to carpenters, welder and other partners.  Overall, we have succeeded in creating a harmonic, well functioning work environment which has been designed to suit its surroundings, which motivates the staff to work and is quite the opposite of an anonymous white hell that you find so often these days in many modern office buildings."

Despite spacious, modular set-up storage units, the workplaces present a calm and clear picture. When you are sitting down, you are protected from all sides. The opaque glass panes provide, however, diffuse light from one’s peripheral vision, which is specifically useful for the workplaces in the second row. The material for the access bridges, which has been carefully selected, is reinforced glass; the bridges provide access across the atrium to the "Me" and "We-Places" at the back of the building.

The management offices, several smaller think-tanks and four larger meeting rooms for eight to twelve members of staff, are located in this area, which is separated from the open space area with a 70 meter long full glass wall with revolving and sliding doors. Two meeting rooms can be combined by sliding back the folding doors to create a huge meeting room for up to 30 people. Staff can book and manage the meeting rooms, which are fitted with a video conferencing system, using Outlook.

As the architect already hinted at, colourful accents show up all over the place: Yellow, orange, cyan and anthracite pinboards and shelf boxes provide freshness to the setting. A counterpoint to this "Spice" colour world is the material bamboo which is used for tables and cupboard elements - this visual pot-pourri is happy, yet restraint and dignified.

"We discussed several colour concepts and agreed on this solution," says Rolf Burgmer, Client and Varian's project manager. "Naturally, we want to offer our staff a pleasant and diverse environment. However, as a medical-technological company, we work in a very serious field and have to represent a certain amount of seriousness. I think the ambiance is inspiring and stimulating." Vitality in doses. This fits the mission statement.

"Furthermore, I am happy about all the different workspace qualities, allowing everyone to choose their workplace from a wide selection depending on the amount of work they have to do and how they feel," says Burgmer.


The reference visit to another Bene customer convinced us that Bene was the right partner for the implementation of our sophisticated design ideas.

Michael Urmetzer, consulting architect