Kulmbach architects go for a clear line

Susan Schwarz is an architect. The 31-year-old worked for more than four years in a well-known Berlin office, but then wanted to return to her hometown Plauen. She has lived there since 2011, but works in Kulmbach rather than in the Saxon district town. "I commute every day", says the young woman, who, she has no doubt, would also have gotten a job in Plauen. But she is happy to put up with the more than two-hour drive, since she works for an architectural firm that doesn’t pursue stale plans, but instead focuses on creativity, says the 31-year-old.

Cost pressure
"Great importance is attached to the design. An aspect that unfortunately falls by the wayside in many other offices these days, which don’t dare to do anything, also with an eye to cost pressure.", says their colleague Seven Schelhorn, who moved from Fulda in Hesse to tranquil Upper Franconia.

Susan Schwarz and Sven Schelhorn work – like ten other architects – for the Kulmbach office H²M, which has made a name for itself throughout Franconia in recent years – and attracts architects as an employer.

The German Master Builder Award
The office was founded in 2004 by Johannes Muller and Stephan Haublein (both 38 years old), who have already won several awards for their buildings. In 2007, for example, they were awarded the German Master Builder Prize in Frankfurt for the addition of a children’s house to a single-family home in Gesees.

Muller and Haublein pursue one goal. With their designs, they want to "provide individual answers to structural contexts," says their colleague Seven Schelhorn, The H²M architects focus on clear lines and the common thread that must run through an entire project. The example of Kulmbach’s public utility company: The new building in Hofer Strasse is "a blue dress that fulfills three functions, Haublein explains. Whereas a warehouse is often housed in subordinate rooms, in the case of the municipal utilities, the office, administration and warehouse are all equally integrated in one building.

The common thread
All employees have the same value: a social component that is also reflected in the interior design, says Haublein, who knows that there are differentiated opinions about the new building among the population.

The fact that the blue color scheme, which is intended to do justice to the water supplier Stadtwerke, also meets with criticism, however, does not annoy the architects. Whoever represents a clear line has to live with being criticized, explain Muller and Haublein, who are both also active in teaching. Muller teaches at the technical colleges in Regensburg and Coburg, and Haublein has held a professorship at the Wurzburg Faculty of Architecture since last summer.

Television was there
The H²M office wants to remain true to its line and continue to concentrate on the essentials, which is the most difficult design task in architecture, as Haublein explains. The architects from Kulmbach have been successful with their concept to date. They have won many prizes, their buildings have been featured in numerous publications and were selected by a team from Bavarian television for the series "Dream Houses" once even accompanied the construction of a single-family home in Kronach for several months.

85 percent via competitions
Muller and Haublein emphasize that 85 percent of their commissions come from winning competitions. This was the case with the new outdoor pool in Arzberg, the experimental housing project in Hof, the community center in Litzendorf, and also the Weihermuhle youth conference center in Buchau near Mainleus.
The H²M architects also landed their next major project through a competition. The multi-million dollar new construction and renovation of the Maria Ward School in Nuremberg. "It’s a school where 1600 girls will be taught," says Johannes Muller, says Johannes Muller. The project is a challenge for H²M, which also gives the still young office economic planning security for the coming years.
The project started in 2014 and is scheduled for completion in 2019, including the construction of a quadruple gymnasium.

Whether Anja Schienagel will still be a member of the team of architects? "After my studies, I actually wanted to go abroad, but I only wanted to do a six-month internship at H²M", says the 27-year-old from Ansbach. But six months have now turned into more than three years, notes Schienagel, who appreciates the creativity and teamwork in the Kulmbach office.

Plans abroad shelved
The 27-year-old can well imagine staying in the beer town for a while longer. Anja Schienagel now lives in Kulmbach. It has shelved its plans to go abroad.

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