REPURPOSING RATHER THAN DEMOLISHING How can we avoid the unnecessary demolishing of old buildings and create alternatives to new builds – given that their construction is so heavy on resources and extremely CO2 intensive? One of the main criteria for giving the construction industry a smaller carbon footprint is the smart adaptation of existing structures that are not being used. Intelligent solutions are also needed for those properties that have been empty for long periods of time and where general conditions are so challenging as to make them seem unsuitable for use. One such case is the disused power station on the former site of concrete manufacturer Dyckerhoff; the building’s striking appearance immediately reminds you of the Tate Modern in London – itself a successful example of how a power station was transformed into a museum. Unfortunately, building regulations prevent the erstwhile industrial complex on the banks of the Rhine in Wiesbaden being put to cultural use or transformed into housing.
The owner of the complex, Wiesbadener Stadtentwicklungs-gesellschaft SEG GmbH, commissioned 3deluxe to find a viable and pioneering design concept for the use of this heritage-listed example of industrial building culture.
BOX-IN-THE BOX WORK SPACE! As it has such ample daylight, the architects at 3deluxe decided to integrate high-grade office space into the south hall of the complex. The impressive size of the space with the typical insignia of industrial culture makes an ideal setting for a highly attractive and modern workspace. The concept envisages an autonomous, free-standing volume within the hall that both preserves the character of the listed structure and simultaneously creates an interesting in-between space: Not only does the latter permit attractive indoor/outdoor use, but also produces a climate buffer. Meaning that whatever the season, less energy is required to use it than would otherwise be the case. The modular system comprises lightweight wooden boxes of a uniform design, a system that relies on stacking to generate unlimited options and configurations. The free spaces between the office boxes and hall façade can be used as a campus area ideally suited to the communication culture that is part and parcel of contemporary office life: There are niches and zones for breaks, for relaxing, eating lunch, meeting areas for conferences and co-working, not to mention a small cafeteria, foosball and a work-out area. All these amenities together with a reception, lobby and waiting lounge make the concept highly attractive for any potential tenant.
»The much-appreciated supreme discipline of architecture has always been new construction. This is now changing: architects are challenged to turn redevelopments and conversions into exciting, innovative, and forward-looking projects, thereby creating desire for existing properties and making demolition unnecessary.«Dieter Brell – 3DELUXE Partner
The staggering of the upper floors reduces spatial depth and ensures ideal lighting in the office spaces and communal areas on the ground floor. And it also produces terraces that serve as additional areas which can be used either for working or for informal meetings and breaks. Moreover, the terracing allows direct views between the different floors, promoting communication and allowing the interior space of the hall to be better appreciated as a whole.
THE EXISTING BUILDING AS CLIMATE SHELL The three-story spatial cluster functions as an autonomous volume with its own separate climate within the larger hall. This has a host of advantages. Indeed, although the existing façade will be refurbished it need not be lavishly insulated, while the inner façade of the wood and glass cluster does not have to meet the requirements of an outer façade – in terms of both insulation and weather-proofing. This cuts construction and modernization costs, and thanks to the climate shell the office spaces require less energy to operate both in summer and winter, consequently substantially reducing the carbon footprint. Construction can be realized both swiftly and efficiently thanks to the serial, modular design of the prefab elements. There are also other aspects that make the box-in-the-box system so sustainable: It is easy to remove, recyclable and energy-efficient.
EMBEDDED IN A GREEN OFFICE PARK The power station is embedded in the overall concept of the Rheinufer Office Campus, which envisages not only the refurbishment of a listed high-rise but also the erection of a wooden hybrid high-rise (see 3deluxe article in the last Newsletter). The newly designed open space between the buildings will be a green campus with a variety of amenities that will make the area on the riverbank an attractive place to work: with spaces promoting communication, places to sit and relax, picnic areas, spots for short workouts, many green spaces with a wildflower meadow for insects, beekeeping, and bird protection zones. The car-reduced area boasts additional facilities designed to promote micro-mobility such as a bicycle repair shop, cargo bike service and charging stations. A rooftop restaurant for employees planned for the wooden high-rise has its own vegetable garden and greenhouse, making it self-sufficient, and they will also be available to the staff of the power station complex. The aim is to make the entire complex into a flagship project for sustainable, smart and future-oriented urban development and to boost Wiesbaden’s reputation as an attractive city to live in and one that is definitely equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
BACKGROUND Throughout Germany, people are developing riverfront areas in urban locations and transforming these into highly attractive living and working environments. Also, the 2.7 hectares site-acquired by SEG GmbH from the Dyckerhoff company-directly on the banks of the Rhine in Wiesbaden, with buildings that are partly protected as historical monuments, marks an extraordinary and extremely attractive section of the Rhine. Its proximity to water and thus to nature allows for a people- and environment-friendly redevelopment of the site-although an industrial park in the immediate vicinity permits only commercial use. The development of the site offers a great opportunity for Wiesbaden to further enhance its reputation as a livable and future-oriented urban location. 3deluxe, in cooperation with the urban development company SEG GmbH, investigates options for modern and economically sensible concepts for the utilization and the design of the area. Additional building components for the development area, like the conversion of the historic power plant hall complex, are to be reported on in the near future.
ABOUT 3DELUXE 3deluxe as a design office with its headquarters in Wiesbaden unites around 40 creative professionals from the areas of architecture, interior design and brand design under one roof.