01. Is Werner Sobek purely an engineering firm?

Werner Sobek is synonymous with innovative, interdisciplinary solutions. Our team is made up of structural engineers, architects, designers, sustainability experts, computer scientists, and a wide variety of other specialists who collaborate with one another on a whole spectrum of different projects. All these individuals work together to support architects, commissioning clients, contractors and property developers at every stage of the planning process, ranging from the very first conceptual deliberations right through to execution planning and on-site quality assurance. The interdisciplinary nature of our team also allows us to develop unique ideas that make best use of our three core competencies: engineering, sustainability and design.

02. How important is sustainability to your company?

Sustainability is the driving force behind everything we do. Werner Sobek, our founder, laid down this idea at a very early stage in his ‘Triple Zero’ strategy, which calls for the attainment of three central goals: Zero Energy, Zero Emissions, and Zero Waste. Our aim is to create a built environment that is both breathtakingly beautiful and best serves the interests of future generations. We want to build emissions-free structures for more people with less material by producing exceptional designs, innovative structural solutions and holistic concepts that minimise our impact on the environment.

03. What role does Professor Sobek play within the organisation?

Our company was founded by Prof. Dr. Dr. E.h. Dr. h.c. Werner Sobek back in 1992. Far from merely being our eponymous founder, Professor Sobek still serves as the firm’s creative mastermind who brings his considerable experience to bear in his role as the chairman of our supervisory board. Operational and strategic leadership for the entire organisation is provided by the four members of the executive board. Like the vast majority of our management personnel, these executives have all been linked with the company for many years.

04. Where does your company call home?

Our company is active around the world and has offices in America, Asia, and Europe. Despite this international reach, however, the firm’s roots undoubtedly lie in the German city of Stuttgart, a true hotspot for architecture and engineering. The local tradition of lightweight construction and the interdisciplinary education of architects and engineers espoused by the influential ‘Stuttgart School’ both influence our work in equal measure. Our operations are steeped in a level of technical know-how and design expertise that rivals anything the automobile and mechanical engineering companies from our Swabian hometown have to offer.

05. How do you maintain a connection between your offices?

Our offices work together on a huge range of different projects to ensure that our resources and expertise are used as effectively as possible. Of course, constant communication is crucial for this kind of collaborative endeavour. We perform international project reviews to guarantee that our quality standards are maintained around the globe, and the management teams from our individual offices meet up at least twice a year to share their experiences and develop new strategic ideas. Last but not least, we naturally also set great store by interpersonal connections. For example, our traditional Christmas festivities in Stuttgart bring together employees from all our offices to review the last twelve months and celebrate with one another.

06. What role do research and innovation play in your day-to-day operations?

The construction industry is a competitive business. In order to thrive over the long term, it is vital to have an edge over one’s competitors when it comes to research and innovation. What trends are emerging? How are the legal frameworks changing? Which new materials, methods and tools will shape our operations in the years to come? Research and innovation are crucial for finding timely answers to these questions. As such, experimental projects like R128, B10, and UMAR form a central part of our work. Of course, the amount of time and energy we invest in these projects is by no means insignificant. Nevertheless, they play an extremely significant role in securing our future success! In addition, there are various cooperations with universities in Stuttgart and many other places.

07. What role do digital technologies such as BIM play in our work?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has played an important role in our company for many years. It helps us optimize planning processes and ensure overall quality. Thanks to our parametric-based engineering and the file to fabrication approaches we follow, we are also sought-after partners for contractors, who need support in the production of complex components.

08. Do you only work on major projects?

The projects we work on range from trade fair stands and single-family homes to skyscrapers and major airports. The size of a project is not important to us. In fact, we are far more concerned with finding projects that allow us to do interesting work from an ecological, technological, and aesthetic point of view. The more demanding and innovative an undertaking is, the better. As a result, no project is too small (or too big) for us. In fact, it is far more crucial that a project is a good fit for our company – and that we are the very best partners to help bring your vision to life.

09. What kinds of materials do you work with at Werner Sobek?

In principle, we are open to working with the entire spectrum of materials. We are always on the hunt for just the right material that will allow us to realise a project’s goals with regards to sustainability, functionality and aesthetics. As a result, we might use wood, plastic, titanium or recycled materials depending on the context and the intended purpose of the design in hand. Managing the forces within a structure can be achieved using a wide range of different materials—we are constantly on the lookout for the optimal solution for each individual project.

10. Why does Werner Sobek call itself a ‘people-owned’ company?

Werner Sobek is immensely proud of being an independent company that only answers to its employees. This is possible because Werner Sobek is a ‘people-owned’ enterprise whose shares are exclusively held by individuals employed by the firm. It is crucial to us that our colleagues feel connected with the organisation they work for, so we regularly give key personnel the opportunity to buy shares in the company themselves.

11. Do you rely entirely on computers at Werner Sobek?

It goes without saying that the majority of our work takes place on computers nowadays. Our goal is to use the best tools and technologies to build as light and sustainable as possible. Even in this digital age, however, the pencil still plays an important role… A lot of things can be explained far more quickly and easily with a sketch than with a hundred words. Designs also benefit from the tangible hand-eye coordination that traditional drawing requires. As such, the pencil is and will remain a vital tool at Werner Sobek, just as continual face-to-face communication between people from different countries and disciplines still plays a crucial role in our operations today.