Architecture has to generate emotions

Stephanie Monney, Associate at MACH Architecture, talks about the topics of identification and Swissness that characterise the MACH portfolio.

Corporate architecture represents a company’s philosophy in built form. In the past, companies built iconic corporate headquarters that exuded power and superiority. What path do companies take today? 
Today, corporate architecture is all about values and identity, external recognition and internal transparency and openness. The architecture is tailored and personalised accordingly, and provides a source of identification. One example is the “boutique office” in which employees develop a sense of belonging and feel comfortable. The architecture tells a story, conveys the identity of the company and creates a recognition factor.

MACH conceives and designs spaces for businesses like Novartis and Raiffeisen Bank. How do new forms of work change office design?
Flexible work environments, desk sharing and co-working have become part of business culture. The work environment needs a stronger identity and more communication, wellbeing and comfort. Omnichannel strategies and the integration of online tools support the flexibility of the workplace. They diversify and improve both internal and external communication. 

What are the special challenges in the hospitality sector and what architectural means do you employ? 
The values and identity of a company must be embodied in its premises. The interplay of spaces, proportions, natural materials, physical textures and light creates a harmonious atmosphere. The challenge is to find the right balance between the degree of representation on the one hand and wellbeing, clarity and the legibility of spaces on the other. 

Your client portfolio includes prestigious Swiss companies such as Bally, SWISS International Air Lines and IWC, whose products are synonymous with Swiss quality and precision. And you designed the Consulate General in Mumbai for the Swiss federal government. How do you convey Swissness?
We rely on authenticity and the natural qualities of materials. Important factors are quality and reliability in planning and implementation; precision and cleverness in the details; simplicity and clarity in the design; and an innovative and creative approach. That gives the projects credibility, concision and longevity.

What building or interior has inspired you recently?
Good architecture is long-lived. That’s why Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals, an icon of Swiss architecture, is still up-to-date. Beautiful examples of corporate architecture are Jean Tschumi’s buildings from the 1950s, such as the Nestlé headquarters in Vevey and the WHO headquarters in Geneva. It’s about more than just style. Architecture has to generate emotions, respond to human and social needs, and interact with the context. I discern these qualities in the buildings of the architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. It can be seen in their latest project, Kingston University London. It is modern architecture with superior spatial qualities, dissolved boundaries, interlocking spaces and visual connections that facilitate communication and exchange – a laboratory for creativity and ideas.