Design and Construction from One Cast

Dresden city archives

Deutsche Werkstätten services:
Interior design, planning, interior furnishing, outfitting of interiors with loose furniture

Completion 1999


The client entrusted Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau with the interior design and fittings for the new city archives in Dresden. DWH, having made its own important contributions to Dresden history over the years, was to have a hand in designing this repository of history. The commission ran the gamut from conceiving the premises and control system all the way through to the lettering on the office doors. Both the public areas and the offices are of consistently contemporary standards, the working conditions thereby permitting virtually no room for compromise. For example, new EU standards for computer monitor workstations require commensurate shading balanced against ample room illumination. Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau met this requirement by employing new, aluminium-metallised window shades. Practical considerations also tipped the scales in favour of the choice made for the flooring: all area were laid with industrial oak parquet, able to withstand heavy traffic and use. A large skylight provides illumination in the reading room, thus giving users optimum light by which to work. A ceiling height of four metres and the balanced spatial proportions moreover provide for a pleasant working atmosphere. The wooden floor made of industrial oak parquet emphasises the work hall ambience.
The countertops for the reception desk and in the visitor hall are custom-made pieces, intentionally understated and muted in colour. Our interior designers saw this as the only natural solution because an archive enshrines documents, and thus history, managing them and making them accessible to the public, utterly unconcerned with short-lived trends. That should also be apparent in its design. The illustrations show different approaches. One of the substantial design elements here is the wood – the pre-eminent material for Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. From the floors and ceiling beams to the counters and interior fitting elements – similar materials and colours soften the overall impression. Oak, maple, light grey surfaces, aluminium and satin finish glass prevail throughout the entire building, occasioning interior fittings which all have the same “look and feel” – coordinated, practical and timeless. Demure whites, tranquil interiors and muted colours define the overall impression. Satin finish glass panes in the partitioning walls between the offices and hallways on the first and second floors not only provide for a brighter hallway, they also add subtle design flourishes to the area.

Text: Anke Müller
Photo: Lothar Sprenger