New Visitor and Customer Center / Reichel Schlaier Architekten

New Visitor and Customer Center / Reichel Schlaier Architekten

  • New Visitor and Customer Center / Reichel Schlaier
  • New Visitor and Customer Center / Reichel Schlaier


The client, family owned and internationally active Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG, renowned for the distinctive yellow of their cleaning equipment, is headquartered in Winnenden near Stuttgart and has experienced strong growth in recent years. With no more space available on the company‘s historic grounds for their increased requirements, the company acquired a 130,000 sqm former brickworks site for future expansion. The new site is located in the immediate vicinity of the old headquarters, the two being separated by a rail line. At the end of 2012, the client called for submissions in an international competition, from which the design of Reichel Schlaier Architekten emerged as the winner.

In the first phase office spaces for 700 employees, an auditorium for 800 people and an exhibition space with presentation rooms and a café were planned. The new buildings were connected via a pedestrian bridge to the existing company premises on the other side of the tracks. As a reminder and as a distinctive symbol of the site‘s past, the historic chimney was retained and integrated into the facility.


The environment around the new complex is very heterogeneous with single-family houses and apartment buildings, industrial buildings and shopping centers, large parking areas, railway yards and tracks. The aligning feature of these existing developments is that which is also prevalent in the whole city area – a low building height of two to four floors. Reichel Schlaier Architekten therefore suggested in the competition that the required space as dictated by the brief not be accommodated in a single large, tall building, but rather distributed over three buildings with different uses - administration, event and presentation. The use of each building should be clearly identifiable by their differing typologies.

The space between the buildings creates a beautiful square, a place to meet and to exchange with colleagues and customers. Additionally, trade fairs that take place in the visitor and customer center can be extended out into the square as required.

This forum connects the visitor and customer center, auditorium and office buildings and is the distinctive center of the new complex. The new pedestrian bridge over the railway lines connects the existing Kärcher premises directly with the new square and office building.

Visitor and Customer Center

The visitor and customer center accommodates exhibition spaces and seminar rooms in which the company’s product range can be presented to customers, as well as a shop and a café. The angular building with large facades of exposed brickwork frames the square to the north and west. The brick walls on the one hand reference the historic brickworks that once stood at this site, and on the other hand create a clear contrast to the fully glazed office building and auditorium. The presentation and exhibition areas inside are primarily lit from above and allow for large and continuous brick surfaces on the outside, framing the square, and immersing it in warm light when the sun is shining.

The building is entered through a 3 m high L-shaped glazed space, which extends along the square. On the north side of the square there is a two-story café in which employees can meet with co-workers or customers. On the west side one enters the foyer of the presentation and exhibition areas.


Extra info

Winnenden, Germany

Planning & Construction:
2013 – 2015

Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG

Gross Floor Area:
6.700 m2

Gross Building Volume:
32.400 m3

Work Phase: