The charm of the sacred and the profane

A former monastery combined with a contemporary building designed by the architects Berschneider + Berschneider, for the new headquarters of Josef Rädlinger in Cham, in Baveria. Inside, Thonet chairs are the red thread between the sacred and the modern

Josef Rädlinger, Cham, Switzerland
Josef Rädlinger, Cham, Switzerland

A work environment of indubitable reverential charm. But also a place that is harmonious, welcoming, modern. For the new headquarters of the Josef Rädlinger construction company, in the Bavarian city of Cham, the architects Berschneider + Berschneider have developed a complex based on the merger of a contemporary office building and an old adjacent monastery. The careful renovation has brought new life to the abandoned complex, which now exists in symbiosis with the more recent portion.

Amidst the spaces of the monastery, completely emptied and refurbished, there are rooms for training, corporate events and clients, together with the company kitchen with restaurant and café. The impressive dining hall at the heart of the structure is breathtaking. This is a very evocative location, a reminder of spirituality, rituals and prayer, where the ventilation system is built into stylized golden organ pipes. Dramatic lamps are suspended from the ceilings, in a mixture of reinterpreted chandeliers and modern suspension models.

Here, as in all the other spaces of the whole structure, the iconic design of Thonet chairs becomes a connection between past and present, sacred and profane. On the historic oak flooring, the famous model 214 (N. 14) with black stain creates an elegant contrast, more like a café than a dining hall. A classic that has made the history of serial production of modern furnishings – in curved wood invented by Michael Thonet in 1859 – mixed with individual 233M chairs with armrests, again in curved wood, featuring a lacquer finish in coral red for a touch of color to liven up the setting.

In the café, containing a tribute to Italy thanks to advertising posters placed on the walls,  the 204MH stools stand in front of the marble counter, combining black stained beech with footrests in brass-color steel tubing.

In the luminous offices with views of the Bavarian forest, the S 285 desk in steel tubing stands out, designed in 1935 by Marcel Breuer with parts in walnut, combined with the B97 stands, in a coordinated version, and the model S43 cantilever chairs designed by Mart Stam in 1931.

For the meeting rooms, the architects’ choice has gone to the comfortable S 64V cantilever chairs with armrests, and the characteristic Vienna straw of the seat and back, matched with steel tubing. Finally, the 209 and 209M chairs in curved wood, with an organic form that echoes that of the round arched windows of the historic monastery.