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O2 Uptown, Munich, Germany

Issue 40 Dec / Jan 2007/8 : Commercial : Reception

Lighting Design: KMS / ELEMENT LABS

KMS has enlisted the help of Element Labs to create a VersaTILE entrance hall based on O2’s brand identity for their German headquarters.

When O2 went in search of a new location for its German headquarters, it soon decided on the new ultra-modern 38-storey Hochhaus Uptown München building in Munich. The signature tower of the Uptown complex, designed by Christoph Ingenhoven, is completely leased to O2 for the coming 15 years. It features a sheer glass façade and an internal central services column around which all offices are located, offering views and a sophisticated platform for the telecommunications firm to house its flagship corporate offices.

British Telecom (BT) de-merged its wireless business from the parent company in 2001, and set about establishing a new name and identity for the separately quoted business. O2 was born in 2002, a relaunch of the former BT Cellnet. The O2 brand stands as a symbol for oxygen – essential for life – which draws a parallel to the indispensability of a mobile phone in today’s society.

O2’s strong consistent visual identity is centred on the use of water bubbles to depict oxygen. The bubbles, which have become the central visual element of O2’s brand identity, are used in different shapes, sizes and colours in everything from the company’s television adverts to its annual report.

The challenge for O2 lay in integrating the signatory bubbles into the interior design of the building so that visitors would be aware of entering ‘the home of O2’ from the minute they stepped through the door. O2 wanted all aspects of the building’s interior design, from the furniture to the cups and saucers in the visitors’ rooms to the walls of the entrance hall to reinforce the well-known bubbles theme.

Corporate identity consultant and design studio KMS, in charge of developing the overall concept and implementing O2’s visual identity into the interior of the tower, approached Element Labs to find a technology that would help make their vision of the space a reality.
Their goal was to transform the foyer of the Uptown building into a dynamic colourful environment that exudes O2’s identity and convert the walls of the central services column to form a focal point.

Element Labs suggested using its VersaTILE product to simulate the bubbles on the façade of the column. Each VersaTILE is edge-lit by LEDs to give smooth light output. Like building blocks, the tiles can be placed together in any configuration. Proven LED video display technology lets VersaTILE produce patterns and moving images in a broad spectrum of rich, saturated colours, as well as flesh tones, browns, greys and other colours not possible with conventional lighting technology. In order to complete the bubbles effect, Element Labs developed a round polymer bevel to give each tile the look of a separate pixel.

The façade of the central column consists of two separate walls that flank the entrance to the building lifts. Each six metre high and nine metre wide wall is covered entirely in VersaTILE.
The remaining three walls of the central services column mimic the LED covered façade through the use of backlit lighting fixtures – opaque white panels with circular holes and a diffuser behind which fluorescent neon lights are located imitate the VersaTILE LED display on the façade.

“The visual result achieved with the VersaTILE LED wall was spectacular,” says Claas Ernst of Element Labs. “The VersaTILE display offers a vivid pixelated backdrop that perfectly translates O2’s bubbles into the look KMS wanted to achieve. Now O2 can show whatever they want on the display – from the signatory bubbles to customised text or images – and the display is so bright that it’s visible even from outside the building!”

Ernst concludes: “We wanted to rise to their challenge, so we even customised the standard VersaTILE module to make the LED wall possible. The VersaTILE display is now a breathtaking part of the lobby and together with all the other elements, it ensures that the O2 brand is presented in the way that KMS wanted it to be.”


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