The Legacy of Office Landscaping:

SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre


  • Andreas Rumpfhuber Expanded design



SANAA, Interior, Interior architecture


In this text I relate the Rolex Learning Centre (RLC) at EPFL in Lausanne by Japanese architects SANAA to the historic example of the Bürolandschaft [office landscape] invented by German management consultants Eberhard and Wolfgang Schnelle in the late 1950s. In doing so I posit the RLC as the most advanced and most elaborate contemporary example of a workplace architecture that mirrors the post-Fordist knowledge economy.

The text introduces the world’s first Bürolandschaft Buch und Ton for the Bertelsmann corporation: the design’s political aspirations and the economic context in Post-War Germany, its cybernetic design method, as well as strategic design decisions. I then discuss the interior economy of EPFL’s new architectural icon and how its interior economy differs from the political and organisational aspiration of its post-war Europe inventors.


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Author Biography

Andreas Rumpfhuber, Expanded design

Andreas Rumpfhuber is the founder and principal of Expanded Design, an office for design/ research in Vienna, Austria. He is currently principal investigator of the EU-funded research project, SCIBE – Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment ( and director of the Austrian Science Foundation-funded research project, Architecture of Cybernetics of Organization. He was a member of the researchers’ and artists’ collective ( at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College in London.Andreas received a PhD stipend (2005-2008) for the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, in Copenhagen. A reworked manuscript

of the PhD on Architecture of Immaterial Labour will be published by Turia & Kant Publishers, Vienna.Andreas studied architecture atTU Graz (1991-99) and the Bartlett School of Architecture (1995-96) and graduated with distinction in 1999 from TU Graz.




How to Cite

Rumpfhuber, Andreas. 2011. “The Legacy of Office Landscaping:: SANAA’s Rolex Learning Centre”. Idea Journal 11 (1):20-33.



Design Research Paper