London architecture and design studio Freehaus have completed the sensitive refurbishment of the historic headquarters of internationally renowned German biscuit manufacturer, Bahlsen.
Freehaus played a key role in developing the strategic brief for the project in Hannover, which was born out of a desire to open the building up to the public and align with the company’s wider values and working culture of curiosity, courage and support.
If Bahlsen’s historic headquarters (or Stammhaus) are considered their spiritual home, Freehaus’ initial role was centred around engaging with the Bahlsen family and the Bahlsen team to establish the building’s significance, what might constitute a Bahlsen welcome and how this might be manifest into a design.
Through this consultation, the extensive refurbishments to the Art Nouveau-inspired building designed in 1911 by architect Karl Siebrecht, were focused on the building’s historic facade, the barrel-vaulted foyer and the reception area.
Freehaus’ approach instilled domestic touches to the grand entrance spaces, with a focus on bringing light into the formerly dark and solemn environments, softening the surfaces of the interior and introducing opportunities for staff and public to appropriate the space. The architects designed a space to enliven and encourage use, in what was formerly a series of formal spaces; with opportunities to lean, linger and chat.
“We collectively felt a need to move away from a corporate aesthetic” says Freehaus director Jonathan Hagos. “Whilst the design approach maintains a level of refinement, we really wanted the spaces to feel like one was at home, to give a more grounded and relaxed air, informing the way in which visitors and staff might interact in the space.”