The new Zalando headquarters in Berlin: a monument to the New Work

There is a vision for the future of working life that is known as New Work, and it goes far beyond merely having a good work-life balance: New Work refers to a symbiosis of life and work. The new Zalando headquarters, located in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, is a building in which this future trend will be experienced first-hand. This extraordinary glass building, designed for the world’s largest online fashion retailer by architecture firm HENN, is set to be the workplace for almost 2,700 employees, occupying 42,000 m² of office space.

The lighting concept for the headquarters was developed in close collaboration between general contractor PORR GmbH & Co. KGaA and lighting manufacturer PERFORMANCE iN LIGHTING. The latter company, from Italy, is one of the market leaders in the office lighting sector, and they acted as full-service provider to fit the entire building complex with its lighting solutions.

The new Zalando headquarters consists of two facing buildings, with the footprint of the smaller building in the shape of a single X, while the larger main building is shaped like a double X and has a spacious central foyer. The pioneering spirit of New Work is already clearly evident in this floor plan concept by HENN architects: they have created an open, communicative space in which community and creativity can freely unfold.

The main building offers visitors a particularly spectacular view as they enter the full-height foyer. This foyer is the beating, light-filled heart of Zalando Europe, serving as a buzzing meeting place for employees and a multifunctional events venue in one. The lighting in the eight-metre-high showroom has intentionally been kept discreet, and consists of NV417 series narrow-beam, static recessed downlights.

The ground floor of the foyer is not the only space open to Zalando employees for leisure and dialogue though; they can also use the “living rooms” located along the gallery on each floor. These relaxation areas are visually distinguished from the hallways by means of slatted ceiling panels with recessed DL LED 100 downlights. In a preliminary light planning concept, light planning firm Bartenbach explicitly specified the requirement to ensure a welcoming atmosphere in the foyer and the adjacent areas – an effect that is created by illuminating these areas considerably more brightly than usual, at almost 300lx.

The gallery balustrades encircle the foyer at all levels of the building and form the starting point for the hallways – or “catwalks” – that flow into the periphery of the building like arteries. The custom-made, curved SL764 light lines on the bare concrete ceilings point the way and create a homogeneous lighting mood with soft transitions.

The office areas take up most of the space within the headquarters. The double-X floor plan allows vistas through the entire building, with these visual perspectives underlined by cable ducts visibly secured to the ceiling, and featuring cuboid linear luminaires from the SL629 lighting range. The SL713 series suspended office lights are a weightless, virtually invisible element of the design of the open-plan office space: with an installation height of just 13 mm and output of 123 lm/W, the SL713 is one of the flattest, yet most efficient suspended lights on the market. Under the acoustic sail, only the wire rope of the hanging set and the transparent supply line is evident – all other technology disappears elegantly above the ceiling canvas.

It is undeniably true that anyone who enters this building – who experiences its unique floor plan and spectacular foyer – will be left with an impression that does not soon fade. The Zalando headquarters is an expression of the fascinating places that can arise when the future vision for working is brought to life through the interaction of masterful architecture, concordant materials and a harmonious lighting concept.
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