The subtle difference
Jun 28, 2016

The 4,500 employees of Austrian banking group Erste Group Bank AG and its subsidiaries moved into the new headquarters near Vienna’s main train station in several waves over the course of spring 2016. This constitutes a departure into an entirely new working environment for the staff, because the new buildings of the bank, which was founded in 1819 as “Austria’s first savings bank”, have been designed to provide space that is surprisingly open and transparent. The headquarters, conceived as an “open office”, were built according to state-of-the-art, virtually egalitarian office concepts. Lindner both supplied the glass partition walls for the think tank and meeting rooms, amongst other spaces, and specially developed glass door elements with an extra narrow visual width and particularly high sound insulation for the spacious office areas. The Lindner Group was also responsible for further interior fittings: Both drywall installations and Lindner floor systems in different variations were utilized. The curved layout of the buildings, as well as the tough requirements in terms of fire safety and noise protection, required many individual solutions and special constructions in order to complete the interior work.

Even the results of the architecture competition had come as a surprise. Instead of the desired perimeter block development, the architects at Henke Schreieck proposed four organically shaped buildings that form a fluid transition from the public spaces to the individual departments in the various buildings. The curved layout enables a maximum number of staff to look out onto the Schweizer Garten park. The double-leaf glass gives the structures an astonishingly transparent appearance, while the fine, dark base panels in the façade further accentuate their curves.

It is not just the high transparency that is unusual for a bank building, but also the fact that the ground floor area is in public use. The atrium, spanning 4,000 square meters in total, houses the reception and an Erste Bank flagship store as well as a café, a kindergarten and event venues. The higher floors contain the “open offices” with workstations that may be freely chosen: Depending on the task at hand, staff can pick between four different working set-ups that each offer a different level of quiet and the right constellation for concentrated or team-oriented work. The high-grade interior furnishings with indoor garden areas, noise barriers and conference rooms featuring easily adjustable glass partitions by Lindner allow for a high level of flexibility on these floors.

The open-office concept even extends onto the executive floors. However, Lindner installed glass partition walls and glass doors with particularly good acoustic protection for the more sensitive areas here. The glass partitions “Life 620” with in-built wooden absorbers guarantee absolute confidentiality and discretion. As a journalist from daily newspaper “Die Presse” commented on the architecture, “You will not find more elegant and homely offices in Vienna.” (rw)


Transparency and openness characterize the design by Henke Schreieck Architekten for Erste Group in Vienna. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

The atrium with its café and kindergarten are open to the public and may also be used for events. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

The light, spacious reception marks the transition from the public sphere to the office levels housing the different departments. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

Furnished with plants and comfortable armchairs, some areas in the open office are reminiscent of a lounge. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

All levels offer quiet individual work spaces alongside open areas for team-oriented work. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

The glass partitions by Lindner offer the high level of soundproofing required for meeting rooms, which need to ensure discretion. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

Left: The glass dividing wall “Life 137” by Lindner has been used on the office floors. Right: The glass door “GTB 100 Typ 2a” was developed specially for the campus and offers soundproofing to the order of 38 decibels. Photos © Walter Luttenberger

Wooden absorbers and “Life 620” provide an even more discreet atmosphere on the executive floor. Photo © Walter Luttenberger

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