When is a warehouse a lake? – in Münster.
This is the third BOLLES+WILSON building for the German-wide furniture chain RS+Yellow, an extension of the homebase storage and distribution centre by 7,000 sqm. The new rectangular building volume stands adjacent to the original 1992 corrugated aluminium warehouse.
The 60 x 66 m two stores ‘Big-Box’ is (as is usual for industrial architecture) reduced to a regular grid of pre-cast columns and widespan floor slabs. Facades are a standard lightweight concrete system. Verticality is emphasised with pyjama colour stripes interspersed with zinc coated grid stripes. These absorb all windows and necessary smoke outlets into an uninterrupted colour curtain.
This warehouse and even perhaps the 1,500 sqm of offices above the delivery bays are precisely realised but relatively conventional. The big surprise comes on arriving at the rooftop meeting rooms and executive offices. Through the intervention of the fire brigade (choreographed alarm) the roof of the building has been flooded – a 45 x 65 m reflecting pool. The edge detail, laser levelled into invisibility, increases the metaphysical unreality of this sky reflector. Underwater compartments eliviate the risk of mini-tsunamis. Spillage is collected in edge channels and channelled to an internal cistern.
A wooden boardwalk fronts the large format sliding glass facade. A pier extends out to the centre of the water world. Here one can sit surrounded by geometric groves of bamboo. From here the south facing glass front of the roof pavilion reflects again the rippling expanse of water. The facade itself is shaded by a projecting steel pergola and a curtain of louvers descending at the press of a button from its outer edge.
This choreographed overlap of inside and outside, of natural and artificial, of direct and reflected light, create a unique atmosphere which could be described as an industrial scaled Japanese Tea-House.