Canal-side buildings in Aarhus make for a striking office complex by C.F. Møller
Three years following the completion of Bestseller's logistics centre in 2012, Aarhus-based architectural firm C.F. Møller created their second significant project for the family-owned Danish clothing company's core operation. Located in the Aarhus port and surrounded by canals and lakes on all four sides, this complex functions as a 22,000 sqm commercial office for 800 employees, as well as a 24,000 sq m goods reception, car park and plant.
Reflecting Bestseller's scope and worldwide reach – eleven brands available in over 3,000 branded stores across 38 markets – the construction constitutes of a flotilla of buildings at different levels, ranging from one to twelve storeys. Devised as 'a town within a town,' these are interconnected through several open-air atria, courtyards and roof terraces, all of which are reached by a bridge-like entrance.
C.F. Møller, best-known for cultural projects such as the National Gallery in Copenhagen, the Darwin Centre at the Museum of Natural History in London and the compelling Sogn & Fjordane Art Museum in Førde in Norway, has stayed true to the firm's ideals of simplicity and clarity, creating a striking and intriguing bilateral framework. The south and north facades, made up of deep window niches built in natural stone from Sicily, give off strong graphic visual vibe, creating a sharp contrast to the sleek, transparent glass facades facing east and west.
Inside, the building's ground floor is split in two halves by a strut-friendly runway 'street' and indoor plaza. From there, employees can access office spaces, showrooms, experimental store environments, photo and film studios, meeting rooms, an auditorium and a canteen. Natural stone lays the foundation for most of the interior, which is combined with dark oak to add warmth and texture.
The office complex's showstoppers are the many staircases interlinking the building's many levels, with the opening look being the magnificent dark oak stairway found just beyond reception. Another stringent and rigorous design expression is the modular concrete steps with floating treads, as well as the cantilever concrete staircases featured outdoors.
In line with C.F. Møller's aim to take social and environmental responsibility, the office complex is a low energy class 2015 building and uses seawater cooling and solar energy. And despite just having been finalized, the building has already been awarded Aarhus Municipality Architecture Award 2015.