“Stay curious, keep your eyes open and do not be afraid to try new things!”
If you were an employee at J. Mayer H.'s architectural studio, these worlds would shape your everyday life at the office, being the most common phrase heard by Mayer himself. Before knowing anything else, this could give you a hint on the risks taken and the research done by the team members. There are no strict rules like one would have imagined taking place in such a studio with international reputation. Any regulations that may arise are going to be flexible so as to foster the possibility of the new, the unknown and the unique. If we were to highlight one thing that keeps the office going, that would be whatever the project, process and final outcome is, it should be special, innovative and certainly not boring!
One might say that from an employee's point of view, this strictly depends on his or her position since architecture has both the fun and the boring side in its practise. However this is not the case at MayerH.’s studio. The group is divided in teams and positions are adjusted as soon as a new project enters the office. Having established a non stressful atmosphere where fun over-exceeds pressure, there is no wonder why the office has permanent employes for more than 5 years. There are currently 16 permanent employes and 3 interns.
Although the office deals more with architectural projects, the same enthusiasm is expressed when it undertakes more artistic projects such as installations. On that line, one might think that the team consists of individuals from different backgrounds but in reality all members of the team share the same background; they are all architects even if their work sometimes focuses on a different field, like product design for instance.
The reason for this is because architects are able to change scale at an instance and therefore efficiency is very important for the office.
However, this homogeneity in professional backgrounds doesn't conclude a homogeneity of cultural background. Netherlands, Portugal, Austria and Iran are few of the countries that some of the team members come from, creating a multicultural working environment.
The principal of the office J.Mayer H. even though he travels a lot, he is involved in every project and in all stages of the design process. The majority of the projects are undertaken from inception to completion but there are cases that a project stays at design stage, like in the case of projects that are developed in Georgia. Since the office is working on an international level, they find a great challenge in coping with not only building regulations, which greatly differ from country to country but with the construction methods as well. For example there is a huge gap between Germany and Spain when it comes to construction stages.
An interesting fact is that even though the office is based in Berlin, they have only one built project in the city! Especially if you think that the office has completed more than 20 residential and about 40-50 interior design projects, not to mention the urban regeneration projects, offices, and other public use buildings like rest stops, university canteens, airport buildings, all in different countries and continents.
Looking closer at the method and tools used, you will be surprised to find out that neither scripting nor parametric design software are being used. They develop “handmade” architecture with the help of CAD. Some of the software used are Rhino, Maya and Archicad. CNC technology like 3D printing is used for complex models, although there is a very special room in the office for working on models by hand.
Entering the office we instantly felt like home! The presence of a cute dog walking around the office and relaxing next to the employees and under the desks contributed a lot to this atmosphere. The selection of furniture and the overall distribution of people to space was extremely well thought, with natural light splashing all over the space. Meeting rooms are also carefully design to host meetings with clients as well as the once-per-week meeting of the project teams. The kitchen smelled like coffee, every architect's best friend, and the view to the yard made us think that this would be a great way to start your week.
Closing up we had an enjoyable tour in the white and sunbathed office of Jurgen Mayer H. in rainy Berlin. We hope that you can feel the hospitality that we received from everyone at the office and especially from Wilko Hoffmann, who was kind enough to show us around and let us know how the office works, whilst giving us extended information on their focus fields and practice.
Learn more about J.Mayer H. office