A floating hedge from 800 t hot-dip galvanised steel

A truly unique office complex, clad with wild vine and wisteria, is situated in Unterföhring near Munich. The striking and equally impressive new head office of Swiss Re Germany AG, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, is a defining urban feature of the Unterföhring business park.

The futuristic office landscape with its revealing glass façade blends in with its surroundings. A main corridor leads in a square through the entire complex. The access and unobstructed views into the green inner courtyard alternate with the central facilities such as meeting and conference rooms and the catering areas. The main route was deliberately designed as a circuit rather than a dead end, as this allows openness of the building to be reflected.

The most striking feature of this building is an impressive and what appears to be floating steel hedge, designed by the architects Bothe Richter Teherani from Hamburg. 800 tons structural steelwork envelope this complex like a type of surrounding pergola, which, heavily clad with wild vine and wisteria, produce a green cover.

Teamwork and sophisticated design expertise between the ‘hedge steel manufacturers’ Südstahl and Wiegel Nuremberg hot-dip galvanising were necessary in order to protect the 93 frames, 14 × 2.10 m, with a unit weight of 4 to 6 tons each against corrosion. The nodes of the frames, all of which are made from solid profiles, had to be drilled out in order to achieve necessary weight savings. More than 100 connecting bolts in each individual frame were screwed in prior to the hot-dip galvanising in order to keep the threads clear. By working together as a team, all the tasks were successfully accomplished.

The floating steel hedge interlinks the entire area in all dimensions and, at the same time, creates a striking and memorable image of the office building. All the sections are interconnected by these external galleries, which extend to all the work areas for a green view from every desk.


Planning: BRT Architekten Bothe Richter Teherani, Hamburg
Steel construction: Südstahl GmbH, Mertingen
Hot-drip galvanizing: WIEGEL Nürnberg Feuerverzinken GmbH