Viking Mašek factory

A factory doesn’t seem like it would be a particularly compelling assignment for architects. Yet this project for packaging company Viking Mašek was a challenge, and we love challenges! Very few Czech family businesses can boast of the worldwide scope of their work. Viking is one of them - it has been supplying packaging machines across planet Earth for 30 years.

How did we design the production area? We had already collaborated on several projects with the family that runs the company. These range from office interior renovations to a family villa, to other large projects. After satisfying experiences with these clients, we were invited to solve the architectural problem of a new company facility. The building’s original design was concocted in a hurry, then modified considerably afterwards.

So instead of just helping with a few issues here and there, we created our own new design.

We then oversaw the project until the very end. Because we are happy to supply our projects in addition to simply designing them, we also provided items such as lighting fixtures and built-in furniture. Both the company's administrative facilities and factory floor are now co-located in one large space.

Tailor-made for people

The main product of the Viking Mašek company is packaging assembly machines. These can be anywhere from 2 to 200 meters in size. These machines consist of a great many parts, and their end result must be goods packed exactly as required by the client.

The solution of individual packaging lines is performed by office-based designers who frequently visit the factory. Technicians working in the assembly room have their own facilities, including large showers. The furniture for the designers had to be different from what would fit in a normal office. Open shelves in the hands of engineers - this is an invitation to chaos. Designers need space to store snacks, coffee, room to put on their shoes, etc. And beware – not only the engineers’ offices, but also the factory, must positively represent the company anytime they are visited.

The optimal standard for the client

One daunting challenge was the budget, which - as with similar projects - was under great pressure. With an office area of 1,000 square meters and a factory floor spanning 3,000 square meters, costs can suddenly balloon to unpleasant numbers. That is why we constantly had to figure out how to tame ourselves and be smart with expenses. Designing something pricey with premium brands is not a cheallenge. The challenge is to come up with something that looks good, works, and does not cost much.

A distinctive element of this project’s interior is the blue kitchen - it was originally supposed to be a train in corporate blue. But varnish is expensive, so in the end we chose a much cheaper material - blue laminate, to which we adapted the color of the ceiling and the floor. The color was a slight deviation to the company’s official corporate shade, but we saved about 40% of the total price of the kitchen. This, too, is the job of an architect: to look for opportunities to save when it’s needed.

When choosing office furniture, we went for a rather lower standard. We know and love premium design products. But does a technology company really need luxury office chairs? Viking builds its prestige through the quality of its products, not the look of its meeting rooms. We therefore chose brands that, while being high-quality, were relatively affordable. Specifically, we used the furniture of the Polish company Profim, tables and atypical furniture from Top Office, and lighting fixtures from various manufacturers (Zuiver, Led2, Archilight, Arkoslight, Halla, Deos). We were able to provide a complete furniture solution (including built-ins) for 120,000 euros, saving 40,000 euros.

When working on the design of this new factory, we had to understand that the company won’t benefit from luxury. So as its architectural studio, we chose the optimal standard for this company. In addition, we supervised the project, and delivered numerous elements of the interior.

I, master carpenter…

Projects like this are a huge school for us. Overall, working on the Viking complex was a valuable experience and a challenge. We established that in addition to designing a project, we can also act as a supplier.

Viking has a second, older complex. Together with the family, we are looking into redoing that one too. This is a massive, critical investment for the company, and we have been working on it for two years now. In archicraft, we like to overcome obstacles.