The ThyssenKrupp Quarter (TKQ) comprises a cluster of 10 individual buildings forming a campus-like grid amid a tree-studded landscape, which is dominated somewhat by a vast (235m-long) “reflecting pool”. 

The TKQ architect consortium of Paris-based Chaix & Morel Associés Architectes and JSWD Architekten, based in nearby Cologne, paid particular attention to the architectural consistency of the individual buildings, which are linked via short paths and a series of small squares. Their aim was to create a quarter “with a compact and homogeneous architectural appearance conveying a strong sense of unity”. 

“Our original intention to use warm wooden interior finishes in contrast to a rather cold, reflecting metal external envelope was politely rejected,” explains Misha Kramer, from Chaix & Morel. Instead, the new buildings, which share an architectural design language of differently orientated L-shaped structures, now feature striking facades of perforated stainless steel sheeting developed by ThyssenKrupp specifically for the project.

Around 400,000 horizontal louvres “track the sun to ensure maximum solar shading, while allowing ample natural light to enter the buildings” while, at the same time, providing a largely unobstructed view outwards for those inside. 

“Using stainless steel structuring elements to dress a fully-glazed curtain wall façade, we then designed a diaphanous, never-still coat of sun-reflecting metal feathers as a climatic buffer,” says Kramer. “The large, pre-painted steel panels ground the fully insulated building skins, and unify individually designed facades for each building.”

The development by ThyssenKrupp of a new metallic-like colour scheme for its coil-coated galvanised steel production was exploited for this project, with the architects choosing the “specific and unique” colour Q1 and the new colour series Reflections Pearl.

The interior of the main head office building, the tallest of those in the TKQ, is characterised by a central glazed atrium extending across 11 floors. This is traversed by intermediate mezzanine levels and floating footbridges. Glass panes behind the perforated steel panels are supported by filigree cable constructions, so the windows appear to be made of single sheets of glass.

Few were surprised when the TKQ clinched the 2012 Prime Property Award prize for the best sustainable real estate investment in Europe at the EXPO REAL commercial property show in Munich. As well as commenting on the “uniform architectural design language” of the scheme, the competition jury praised the energy efficiency of the (approximately) 19,360 square metre complex. 

As well as tracking the position of the sun, they noted, the horizontal steel louvres “make a key contribution to achieving the excellent energy values of 136.9 kWh/sqm/p.a. and a high level of user comfort”.

The jury also remarked on the sustainable management of raw material resources “reflected in an efficient energy-supply concept and maximum use of environmentally compatible materials from the local region,” as well as the buildings’ energy-efficient heating and cooling concept.

The TKQ relies primarily on extracting geothermal energy from the warmth and cold stored in the ground via probes, and on component activation; to limit electricity consumption, the site uses a fully-automated systems with a daylight-linked dimmer function and motion sensors.

As two-thirds of the site is water permeable, rainwater can be fed back into the water cycle. It is collected on around 25,000 square metres of roof space across the site, and then channelled through a pipe system independent from that used for waste water.

“The client’s wish for a sustainable development was a primary goal,” says Kramer. Achieving premium DGNB certification in Germany – which corresponds to standards such as HQE, LEED and BREAM – means Chaix & Morel Associés Architectes /JSWD Architekten comfortably fulfilled this request, while at the same time creating a collection of elegant and innovative future-resistant buildings.

Images courtesy of C. Richters / AACMA / JSWD

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