A pair of free-form volumes responds to the landscape qualities of the site – a former floodplain of the Rhine – as well as to the memory of villas in park-like settings that once occupied this now increasingly densified area. In addition the new buildings acknowledge the sculptural characteristics of the adjacent twelve-storey 1960s high-rise, while their vivid polychromy supports the organic character of the external space.
In each building the office areas are arranged around three compact cores. Primary cores are connected to the main entrance hall, while secondary ones are entered from the more intimate patio spaces. Every floor can be subdivided into three distinct units, each identifiable through its own reception area, sculptural stair and elevator core. The varying depth of plan offers a great number of variations in office layout. The generosity of the windows is echoed in the glazed corridor walls that ensure maximum light throughout the depth of the plan, while giving spectacular views out towards the Rhine and Cologne Cathedral.
One innovative development lies in the series of finger-shaped canopies that were prototyped as an alternative to a suspended ceiling, so as to take advantage of thermal mass and to increase clear height. All necessary services – lighting, air distribution, sprinklers and acoustic modulation – are unobtrusively integrated in these overhead elements. The offices use groundwater from the Rhine as a source of geothermal energy and to supplement the heating and cooling systems, while also carefully building above the 100-year water level and to flood defence specifications.