CCI Europe A/S
On April 5, 2002 Architektgruppen Århus was awarded the prestigious Concrete Element Prize for the new domicile for CCI Europe A/S, an International software developer, located in Højbjerg, Denmark.
The prize, established by the Concrete Element Association in 1978, is awarded for excellence in design and the integration of prefabricated concrete elements with other building materials.
The white painted concrete columns and girders, in contrast to the soft organic form of the “Monolith Theater”, stand out as architectural elements revealing the rhythm in the building’s structural system.
The rectangular box clad in black granite, surrounded by pools of water and greenery, stands out in the otherwise bland industrial neighborhood. The main entrance is reached crossing a bridge over a minimalistic water garden planted with slender trees.
Architecturally the design concept takes advantage of the sloping site with the main entrance, situated at the highest point, anchoring the building to the ground, and the backside of the building floating above the reflecting pool that, like a wall to wall carpet, surrounds the lower level canteen.
The interior of the building, a figure eight in plan, is designed with all the virtues of a classical town; the arrival, the town plaza, the different neighborhoods, the parks and lakes. The “arrival” at the customized reception desk, made of fiber cement.
Activities are organizes around two atriums; the “Plaza”” and the ‘Garden”. Public and representational activities are concentrated around the “Plaza”, where as the “Garden” is reserved for the employees.
In the center of the “Plaza” the “Monolith Theater”, a gigantic organic poured-on-site concrete sculpture, rises the full height of the building, through the roof, letting daylight in around its curving edges. The frieze, inspired by CCI’s background as printers, is by Danish artist Jens Formsgaard.
The “Plaza”, with its gigantic staircase reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome, is surrounded by “neighborhoods” with streets, alleyways and bridges on three levels. In contrast to the organic form of the “Monolith Theater” the offices, placed around the two communal areas, are straight forward and economic in their construction. The offices, accessed via interior staircases, balconies and bridges, all have have exterior views.
Narrow strips of skylights around the curved form of the Theater and on the edges of the “Plaza” create a play of light and shadows that, combined with the blond wood, glass and Arne Jacobsen chairs, give the Atrium an inviting ambiance with a Northern European flavor.
The 200 seat “Monolith Theater”, with the main entrance on the ground level, is used for in-house or client presentations. On the upper level bridges across the “Plaza” lead to private meeting rooms.
In the exterior atrium, on a sloping hill covered in steel blue stones, the “Garden” is planted with pine trees and blueberries in true Nordic garden style.
The Concrete Element prize is a coveted prize for young architects as the prize often is used as an “investment in talent” bringing encouragement to young architects.