Ausburg: Inauguration of the EoC Building "The Box"

“Linking Ties as Economic Principle”

By Winfried Baetz-Braunias

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"Thinking outside the box" is the philosophy which two EoC businesses in Augsburg have visibly impressed on the building where their offices can be found, called ‘The Box’…  A restructured building in the prestigious commercial district of the western part of the city of Augsburg, Bavaria: indeed, the structure looks rather like a slightly open box ….  Last November 16, 2012 the  Elfgenpick (corporate design, web programming and graphics, advertisement campaign) and the Contecta firms (estate administration), invited clients, suppliers, friends and other companies in the vicinity, to the inauguration of the building, with a grandiose ceremony (blessings and official speeches included) to which 150 people participated who thus had a chance to get to know the philosophy of ‘The Box’.

Thomas Weil, internationally known artist and architect, dynamically breaks the facade in its original layout by forming patterns at right angles, making opposites live together harmoniously.  In the Box, we find space for businesses which, based on their base values, intend to support each other reciprocally.  This alternative approach enriches public debate in the economic field which, after the fall of the Berlin wall, has, even in Germany, been dominated mainly by neo-liberal themes.  These companies are convinced that their staying together in strict contact will incise with efficacy on public opinion and are ready to make a part of their space and their time available to this end.

Unity as a principle of action in the economic field”: after the joyful blessing by the pastors Dietrich Tiggemann (evangelical) and Gerhard Groll (catholic), Professor121116_Ausburg_th_box_01_rid Dr. Katharina Ceming (University of Augsburg), philosopher and theologian, went deeper into the business philosophy behind The Box: instead of giving in to the dominating principle of competition, the project proposes to bring about a change of thought globally of society, as is needed today, to put at the centre of any activity  the reality of what unites interiorly all of mankind, however diverse they may be. Already, Plato, as with all great philosophers, had identified in universal reason, the element of unity between all with the creator of the cosmos, and Christian teaching affirms it when it tells us that all men and women are sons and daughters of the same Father.   It becomes necessary then to exercise in economy as well, the new virtue of unity which all the great religions propose as an experienced value, as an alternative to the rational approach extended solely for the purpose of gain.

With this change of use, the building (an ex-Easypay) should become a model for a working space and a way of doing business, that is modern and oriented towards the future.  Methods of construction used for energy saving, harmonious living between working and natural spaces, between working singly and in groups, between the pleasure of meeting in moments of breaks and hours of efficient production, as valid innovative concepts for each business:  for this reason, the Box must be a reference model not only from the point of view of esthetics.  Promoters of this ambitious project are four business people, Thomas and Christine Hüttl (contecta), Ludger Elfgen and Heinrich Pick (elfgenpick), the first three being active in Economy of Communion, while Pick finds inspiration from the Christian initiative ‘Initiatives of Change’ with its international Centre at Caux, Switzerland.

The project, ‘The Box’ has been preceded by years of attempts:  there had been the intention to realize a ‘common Home’ for a number of businesses belonging to the Economy of Communion in the vicinity of the centre of the Focolare Movement in Ottmaring,  with the purpose of giving visibility to the EoC project and its values.  The site of the Box is approximately 25 minutes from Ottmaring.  “With this experience I learned that everything happens at the right time” says a relieved Ludger Elfgen, one of the promoters of the Box.  “Who would ever have imagined last October when we were at the EoC School in Vienna, that only a year later we would have made our entry into a common home….

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A Free-Jazz-Combo with Ludger Elfgen at the piano was   background to the inaugural evening.  Among the suggestive internal projects designed by Katia Gebauer (designer), is the cafeteria, open towards a natural space, as a place to meet on the day of inauguration and beyond, will be a meeting point for individuals at the Box who intend to meet here regularly as told us by Peter Steinbrecher (studio of civil engineering) and Karin Weiss (market research): “My collaborators and I were impressed by the atmosphere on the day of inauguration.  It reminded us of the inauguration of the first production Park at Loppiano, Florence.”

There are fruits to be seen already.   Some business owners from the surrounding area have declared themselves to be committed Christians.  But it doesn’t stop there:  one can see that common base values brings to businesses involved also an advantage of trust towards many commercial partners, representing, from a purely economic point of view in this way as well, a competitive advantage not to be undervalued which the central position strengthens even more.  “The relocation has been blessed already by an unexpected flow of new clients and interesting projects.  We don’t regret having made this step even for and instant. Man proposes, God realizes”, comments   Thomas Hüttl, co-founder of the Box.

Companies will be welcomed, which for reasons of practicality, will want to rent a space, appreciating positively the philosophy lived at the box.  These will make possible on the one hand, the healthy economic usage of the structure, and on the other, they will be witnesses to the project’s immersion in the absolute daily normality of the economy in which it has to be affirmed.  The new area offers triple the amount of service area already in use.  The building must allow for synergy among the different business ventures and favor collaborative relationships.  To this end, the use of company vehicles and common taxi service will be a contributing factor, as the communication network and the servers (with continuous electrical output backup), as well as the possibility of buying office material centrally within the space.  The other costs will be subdivided according to the amount of usage and beyond, there will be no other financial expenditures

Other particular characteristics: 121116_Ausburg_th_box_03_rid
-    A total of 1000 Sq m of surface for offices which can be subdivided differently, in a flexible manner, when a tenancy changes;
-    Three floors, including main level;
-    Common cafeteria and kitchen with terrace; these locales can be used both as common spaces or as conference and seminar hall available to groups of visitors (e.g. student classes or groups of young people);
-    Fittings and equipment with high energy savings and heating from a distance;
-    An installation of photovoltaic panels is foreseen, as well as a charging station for vehicles in the parking lots.

The Box will be run by Axilio GmbH.  The administration will be carried out by the firm Contecta which is located within the building.  A committee has been constituted for the evolution and development of the project in which are represented not only interested tenants but also qualified sympathizers who will sustain the project with their knowhow.

Finally, the tenants of the Box will commit themselves to periodical meetings to debate topics of common interest and to favor exchanges of experiences

In the following video, can be viewed the inaugural event of ‘The Box’ by Professor Katharina Ceming:

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