What role does architecture play in creating excellent working conditions? Why is the new watchmaking center carrying the soul of the IWC brand? Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO and architect of Schaffhausen IWC, personally participated in the design of the new watchmaking center.
Christopher Glenn-Haier, IWC Chief Executive Officer
Why were you obsessed with architecture when you were a young student?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: The art of architecture involves much more than just designing a practical building. A building is a living space that directly affects the way people live or work. I also saw this through the new watchmaking center: more than 230 employees called the building the ‘home’ of their work. The design of this building affects their daily activities and their social relations. Therefore, architects need to understand how people behave and how people communicate with each other. This overall perspective has always fascinated me.
As an architect, what are your requirements for a watchmaking center?
Christopher Glainger-Haier: Of course, this building must have perfect production conditions and provide an excellent working environment for our employees. It is also important to provide visitors with a unique experience. But we need more than just a functional factory building-we need a building with both appearance and connotation: both aesthetically pleasing and the soul of our brand. Therefore, we have spent a lot of time thinking about how to accurately convey the essence of IWC to our employees and visitors through the form of architecture, just as we treat the design of stores, exhibitions and so on.
What role do you play in all your work?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: After deciding how much space to build to best meet our production needs, I participated in drafting the initial architectural design and setting the tone for the architectural design. During the subsequent design process and construction, I was the representative of IWC’s architectural issues, and made architectural aesthetic decisions, and was responsible for deciding what materials to use.
Where did your design inspiration come from?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: I was thinking of a modernist World Expo pavilion in my mind. These pavilions are already the biggest achievements of countries in displaying their technology, trade and art. I think this kind of integrated exhibition of art gallery, studio and engineering design is very suitable as the basis of our architectural design. The classic modernist style perfectly fits our brand image. We are a 150-year-old manufacturer, but at the same time we are a future-oriented company. Modernist architecture can perfectly reflect this. It is not retro neoclassical, but a classic interpretation of the future.
How does the art of architectural design improve working conditions?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: Many factory buildings are now designed as glass cubes. But this is obviously not suitable for the production workshop, because its shading effect is very small, resulting in the temperature inside the building will be very high. It is also difficult to divide the space, because glass is everywhere. Therefore, we did not want to use the all-in-one glass curtain wall, but chose the form of base with pane glass, plus the flat roof beyond the facade, thus obtaining the shading effect. The automatic shading system uses mathematical calculations to calculate the eaves protrusion of the eaves-a combination of the two, which together creates a flexible space that can be easily divided according to demand, and has sufficient sunlight without causing glare.
Does the art of architectural design play any other role?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: When you step into this new watchmaking center, you will immediately feel what kind of brand IWC is, and also feel the pride of our employees for their work. If we distributed production to different floors or different buildings, you would not have this feeling. For example, in order to promote effective teamwork, we have set up corresponding ‘full staff’ work areas. Members of the same team can discuss the goals, quality requirements and current problems of the department together in the corresponding ‘full staff’ work area. From this perspective, it is the architectural art that has improved the speed of communication and improved the process. We also used a variety of architectural design techniques to create a very special atmosphere, such as the laying of wooden boards for the raised flat roof. This makes this new building feel a little residential-a house with a spacious balcony, creating a warm atmosphere.
How does this building reflect the brand value of IWC?
Christopher Glainger-Hale: The pure black frame of the pane and the bright white flat roof form a strong contrast effect-and the dials of many of our watches also use this contrasting contrast design. The ‘wood core + warm-colored stone’ floor conveys a sense of warmth and luxury. The warm, central area of the entire plant is surrounded by a shady, laboratory-like production area. The coexistence of this luxurious leisure style and precision engineering style perfectly condenses the spirit of the IWC brand.