Microsoft Switzerland, Zurich

A global focus with local roots

Flexible worlds of work in an international environment: Microsoft's Swiss head-quarters in «The Circle» at Zurich airport is representative of the globally active technology company, yet still has elements typical to the region. As the general contractor, Glaeser Projekt AG managed the complete fit-out of the company’s brand new office space.

Building owner:

Microsoft Switzerland

Our services:

General contracting

An emblem of the Swiss power of innovation

The large «The Circle» project has been a symbol for the Swiss economy since its completion. On an area of 200,000 m2, «The Circle» is a business hub with conference centre and venue for experiences, art and culture. The new site of Microsoft’s Swiss headquarters combines the global orientation of the company with strong, local roots. The innovative concept was implemented in an intensive collaboration between architects, Glaeser Projekt AG and Microsoft.

A natural contrast with aluminium, glass and stone

The connection with natural shapes and materials in the Microsoft headquarters contrasts with the aluminium, glass and stone that characterise the exterior appearance of «The Circle». The chosen materials in the building bring ambience of the neighbouring park also into the interior space. The contradiction created here makes reference to the local connections within the global orientation of Microsoft.

A dynamic workspace in a unique setting

With their move into the modern premises in «The Circle», Microsoft is staying true to its concept of breaking away from a classic office layout and allocated workspaces, a concept it has been pursuing for over a decade. The dynamic workspace with a lively interior architecture impresses with plenty of green and open spaces, leaving room for creativity. Here, Glaeser Projekt AG, acting as general contractor, took on the complete tenant fit-out.



«We maintained a cooperative relationship with Glaeser Projekt AG the whole time, even in hectic phases, and we were always able to overcome the challenges that emerged for the good of the project.»

Frank Herzog

JOP Architects, Horgen

Mr Herzog, what are the special features of the interior architecture concept for Microsoft’s Swiss headquarters in «The Circle» at Zurich airport?

We were able to develop worlds of work together with our client, Microsoft, which offer employees a high degree of flexibility for working in different «settings» – to suit their tasks. The aim of the design concept was to place Microsoft overall as a company with deep roots in Switzerland. We developed an idea which, on one hand, reflected the character of Switzerland in terms of material choice and form, and, at the same time, had a strong connection to Microsoft’s values.

In your opinion, what makes Microsoft’s Swiss headquarters in «The Circle» unique?

The project was developed as part of an intense exchange with the client in order to achieve a result which, for one part, reflected the needs of the local user, the global specifications of the client and also the features of the location. The result is a unique mix of client-specific elements and elements which are typical for the region.

What sort of atmosphere did you want to create?

We understood «The Circle» as a location with a real technological focus, which is marked by the materials aluminium, glass and stone. The park behind the complex formed the contrast to this. We wanted to transfer the ambience of the park into the space, and give the location a natural and human character. In accordance with this idea, the choice of materials always took up natural forms and textures.

The company moved into the office space at the end of November. How did the client find the offices?

The response is very positive. At their previous site, Microsoft Schweiz had spent over ten years following a concept which does away with the classic office layout and allocated workspaces. The intensive joint design process and the support of the client with change management allowed us to develop a project that was tailored to them specifically. In the end, this really paid off.

How are you satisfied with the result yourself?

Microsoft was very open-minded and listened to us in regards to where our design came from, which meant that we were able to implement our ideas in many areas, taking into account the further framework conditions. The result is a location which was very well coordinated, which exudes a self-image and where the overarching design concept remains clear to see. Personally, I feel very comfortable in this location every time I pay a visit.

Where there any particular challenges during the planning or implementation phase?

One the one hand, the intensity of collaboration with the client’s various departments was exceedingly high. On the other hand, construction at the airport, in particular at «The Circle», is a real challenge and requires a lot of coordination with the owner. At the beginning of the tenant fit-out, the building was still in the construction phase, which demanded a great deal of flexibility from us as the general planning team, as well as from general contractor Glaeser Projekt AG.

Glaeser Projekt AG took on the complete office fit-out. How did this cooperation come about?

Glaeser Projekt AG were able to impress with a very appealing offer during the tender process for the general planner services. Not least, their excellent references regarding tenant fit-outs were a crucial factor in the client’s decision.

Would you work with Glaeser Projekt AG again?

We maintained a cooperative relationship with Glaeser Projekt AG the whole time, even in hectic phases of the project, and we were always able to overcome the challenges that emerged for the good of the project. In the end, we succeeded in implementing a very demanding project together. The result speaks for itself.