Zech Haus

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An anchor point
in the harbour

Year: First prize in competition 2020

Client: Gustav-Zech Stiftung

Program: Mixed-use including offices, conference center, restaurants, boat club, brewery, and urban spaces

Size: 31,500 m²

One of the most important new urban development areas in Düsseldorf is the harbor. This is also the site for Zech Haus – a new office headquarters and mixed-use development, including a 68m tall office high-rise with public spaces at the top and the lower levels. While the height of the high-rise matches the city’s historic landmarks, the base of the building adapts to the nearby surroundings and offers a human scale. By carving out the three different facades of the triagular-shaped building, three unique urban spaces are created supporting distinct outdoor public activities, such as brewery on one side, a boat club on another and a terraced connection toward the water. With its prominent location at the harbor’s edge, the curved shape is repeated in the façade, like a sail swaying in the harbor breeze.

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The building works on different scales. While the tower reinforces the scale of existing landmarks in Düsseldorf, the base adapts to the human scale of the nearby surroundings. These two scales of the building massing are further enhanced by small boathouses that can host a variety of functions.

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The large scale: a distinct volume in the cityscape

The combination of tower and base fits into the area while also being a landmark seen from a distance. At the large scale the building adds a distinct volume to Düsseldorf’s cityscape.

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North elevation

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South elevation

The small scale embraces the local life of the new waterfront. Boathouses host a variety of functions from a coffee bar, to kayak storage, to a sauna, creating lively urban spaces at the water’s edge.

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Three urban
spaces facing three
urban neigbourhoods

The triagular-shaped site is surrounded by three different neighbourhoods: the Medienhafen, the Industriehafen and the Düsseldorf-Hamm.

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The site is positioned at the intersection of 3 distinct neighbourhoods.

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The program in the ground floor informs the surrounding
urban spaces.

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By cutting the two sharpest corners, two different urban spaces are created. One for the main arrival area close to a mobility hub and one for deliveries and logistics.

The ground floor reacts to each of the sides and is shaped by the carving out urban spaces. The harbour side will become a recreational hotspot for outdoor activities while the main arrival plaza is located to the east making it easy accessible when coming from the city.

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The ground floor is programmed with a variety of public functions- one large urban living room that is active throughout the day. The heart of the ground floor is a food market- open to the public and to the building’s employees as their canteen.

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Rowing club, brewery and lounge

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At the recreational harbour side, a terraced landscape of stairs and ramps creates a connection to the water- ending in a floating element that moves up and down according to the tide.

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A gesture
to the city
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Both the ground floor and the top floor are accessible to the public. In between these public areas are offices, connected to a large green roof garden and conference floor.

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The roof garden is the meeting place for people working in the building, with green spaces and meeting houses featuring spectacular views to the harbour and the skyline of Düsseldorf.

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A sail in the
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The façade will be fitted with white glazed ceramic tiles.

The curved shape that a boat’s sail cuts in the sky inspires both the building’s volume and the tectonic of its facade.

250 cobe zech haus facade view
060 cobe zech haus harbour view

Location: Düsseldorf, Germany, First prize in competition

Client: Gustav-Zech Stiftung

Program: Mixed-use including offices, conference center, restaurants, boat club, brewery, and urban spaces

Size: 31,500 m²

Year: First prize in competition 2020

Collaborators: Buro Happold, DEKRA

Team: Birk Folke Daugaard, Caroline Nagel, Dan Stubbergaard, Francisco José Gómez Tirado, Karoline Liedtke, Leonie Johann, Lukas Frenzel, Max Neumeister, Ornella Clappier, Simon Sjökvist, Slava Kuzmin, Tonny Jensen

Additional photography: Adobe Stock

Image Credits: Please note that we have used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement.