A concrete Trunk in Pforzheim

The office building built at the northern edge of the Black Forest has the name and solid appearance of a trunk, and just like a tree stands alone, next to an important urban hub.

Michele De Lucchi, The Trunk. The sinuous façade determines a different conformation depending on the point of view. The gray paved brick amplifies the monolithic nature of the stone base, while the reinforced concrete frame bends as the volume rises

The building built in the area of the railway station of Pforzheim, in Baden-Württemberg, between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart, at the northern limit of the Black Forest, the trunk has the name and strong rooting that - at the Schulberg - is expressed through a massive red stone hoof that suggests a sense of solidity. Moreover, of the sturdy stem of a tree, Il Tronco has the characteristic of being isolated, at the top of a relief, at an important urban junction, and has a curvilinear form molded plastically without respecting the perpendicularity of the facades, exactly as it could happen in the case of the supporting structure of a plant.

What instead of the trunk does not have is wood as its main material. Unlike many other buildings designed by Michele De Lucchi, it has a reinforced concrete structure covered with light bricks. And it is devoid of the irregularity and spontaneity of nature. It is true that the building (which houses the administrative offices of the economics and marketing divisions of Pforzheim) inclines its facades inwards as if it were a natural, organic element; but, in a very surprising way, De Lucchi combines this plastic treatment of the fronts with the adoption of a rigid grid of windows that envelops the building in its entirety, giving it a sober and rigorous look.

Study sketch by Michele De Lucchi for the office building The Trunk. Pencil on paper
Study sketch by Michele De Lucchi for the office building The Trunk. Pencil on paper

In his book dedicated to employees published in 1930 (Die Angestellten), Siegfried Kracauer emphasized the uniformity of a multiplicity of phenomena in the world that revolves around the offices as a typical manifestation of modernity: languages, clothes, gestures, but also the same buildings in which the offices are located, then appeared in his eyes (as still often to our) strongly standardized and always equal to themselves. Given this condition, De Lucchi's decision to equip his building with a rational, orderly composition does not in any way imply an adaptation to general uniformity: on the contrary, Il Tronco stands as a criticism of the tired repetitiveness of the building. office architecture. But at the same time it is kept away from the empty contemporary formalisms, from the superficial will to amaze. In this sense, the soft bending of its fronts, the progressive inflection of their highest part, are all the more enhanced the more these design choices are reacted with the constant rhythm and the severe appearance of the openings.

The internal distribution of the building benefits from the same curvature, making the corridor a continuous common space, where the 'squares' of the stairs and the conference and meeting rooms open up.
A building that constitutes a steady urban landmark, austere but at the same time able to stand out - just as good architecture should be.

The spiral staircase with steel structure and coating in wood connects the fifth and sixth floors
The spiral staircase with steel structure and coating in wood connects the fifth and sixth floors
The Trunk
office building
Pforzheim, Germany
Michele De Lucchi
Structural Engineer:
Bugenings Eisenbeis Ingenieure, Gesellschaft Beratender Ingenieure mbH
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer:
P&H Hönes GmbH
7500 smq

Speciale Guest Editor

Altri articoli di Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram