Tobias Wulf and Gabriel Wulf of wulf architekten studio - interview for A&B
[original material A&B 04'2020 p.24]
The wulf architekten office is an international architectural studio with offices in Stuttgart, Berlin and Basel, whose projects have been honored with more than a hundred awards in recent years. Wulf architekten are guided by the motto that for every task, even the most complicated, there is always a simple solution. As a result, all their realizations are defined by one word: clarity. The office's founder is Tobias Wulf, and his son, Gabriel, runs the Basel branch. In November 2019, the architects were guests in Katowice, where they gave a lecture as part of the sarp series "Masters of Architecture."
About wulf architekten studio
Justyna Boduch: Wulf architekten was founded in the late 1980s, what were the beginnings of your studio like?
Tobias Wulf: After graduating, I started working in Stuttgart. Then I went to Cologne, where I worked for Gottfried Böhm. He had a completely different perspective on architecture and design, so I decided to start my own architectural office. I decided to take part in a competition - I prepared the design on my own, after work, that was the first step. I won, which was the impetus to start my own studio in 1987.
Justyna: How many people work in your office?
Tobias: There are roughly one hundred and fifty employees from twenty countries in the teams of our offices in Stuttgart, Berlin and Basel.
Justyna: What are the challenges of working in such a large studio? Is running an office today different from running one in the early days?
Gabriel Wulf: Of course we struggle with many challenges. When I joined the office, it was quite large, and it is constantly growing. The most important challenge with such a large number of employees is to maintain the quality of projects and the office.
Justyna Boduch during an interview for A&B with representatives of international architecture studio wulf architekten
Photo: Kinga Golabek
Coffee in the service of project team integration
Justyna: I've heard that wulf architekten's tradition is to have two coffee breaks every day. Where did the idea for such breaks come from and what is their purpose?
Tobias: It's about the need to get together. We have a huge table in the studio and twice a day the whole team and I sit down at it to exchange thoughts. We discuss, we drink coffee, it's a relaxed atmosphere.
Gabriel: In a way, the coffee break also answers the question about the challenges of working in a large team. We deal with many projects at the same time, and some people don't know what their colleagues are doing. The coffee break is one of the tools that integrate architects in the office. It's very important when people talk about their projects, the successes they have achieved, and the challenges they are currently facing. That's why the coffee break is an extremely important part of our work day.
Justyna: And other than the coffee break, do you have any other ways to build a good team atmosphere?
Gabriel: Coffee breaks are the most common, as they take place every day. However, we have many other customs in the studio, one of which is the Friday evening drink (Friday evening beer) - already after working hours, we invite willing employees of wulf architekten to start the weekend together. Compared to the coffee break, there is no time pressure and the atmosphere is more intimate.
Tobias: We also have some activities that take place outside the office. For example, we play soccer twice a week.