kadawittfeldarchitektur has its completed its conversion of the historic former railway head office building in cologne, germany. situated along the banks of the river rhine, the building is an iconic part of the city’s architectural silhouette, located within the vicinity of the main railway station, cathedral and city centre.


the building is an iconic part of the city’s architectural silhouette
(above) image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur
(main) image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

the former headquarters of the royal railway office or ‘königliche eisenbahndirektion zu cöln’ was built between 1906 and 1913. the neoclassical style of the original building had a commanding presence, and corresponding designs can only be found in classical palaces. the mansard roof, which was destroyed during world war II, characterised the silhouette of the cathedral city considerably. the reconstruction of the building in the late ’40s, however, only included a single mansard storey with a flat roof. recently, the building has lain dormant, with infrequent use as a venue for temporary events and celebrations. it is now to become the new home for EASA, the european aviation safety agency


the neoclassical style of the original building had a commanding presence
image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

the new design, led by kadawittfeldarchitektur, takes the existing listed structure — including the historic facades — into consideration and develops a contemporary, modern solution for the pre-war mansard roof structure, which now forms a distinct contrast to the historic features below. clearly separated from the listed structure by a shadow joint, the new facade of the roof extension appears as an independent, homogenous structure with a horizontal arrangement, lending the add-on a dynamic, elegant and transparent look. metal bands envelop the four roof storeys and trace the slope of the historic roof contours that characterised the rhine river silhouette of the cathedral city for many years.


the mansard roof, destroyed during world war II, characterised the silhouette of the cathedral city considerably
image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

since the main design aim was to find a feasible and sustainable solution, it was only possible to retain certain elements of the historic structure, including individual features from the interior and the exterior facade. in the new build, the exterior wall continues to function as a structural element, also bearing the loads of the new additional floor slabs. the listed facade enclosing the four lower storeys has been cleaned and restored. in contrast to the symbolic roof extension, the new windows in the historic facades are deliberately unobtrusive and plain. in terms of size, they correspond with the original window formats; however, due to the continuous shadow joint around the outside, they are kept at a safe distance to the historic masonry and are clearly perceived as modern elements inside the old openings.


the new facade of the roof extension appears as an independent structure with a horizontal arrangement
image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

the original forecourt of the building was comparatively narrow, which meant that the building was very close to the highly frequented main thoroughfare along the rhine riverbank. in order to generate a more representative entrance, the main access to the building has been complemented by a disability-friendly set of ramps and stairs. moreover, the windows adjoining the former entrance have been changed into full-height door openings. thanks to the plastered reveals, which are clearly visible as a later addition, the large openings help create a generous entrance area and guide daylight into the depths of the adjoining hall. the additional entrances provide the opportunity to divide the interior space and let it to different tenants.


the main access to the building has been complemented by a disability-friendly set of ramps and stairs
image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

the design and colour scheme of the open and flexible office landscape in the building interior is based on kadawittfeldconsult’s concept ‘sky over cologne’. the seven office storeys are guided by the hues of the sky over cologne at sunset. according to this overriding scheme, each storey has its own colour, which is applied to the walls, carpets and furniture details. the pixelated floor indicators convey the principal idea of the colour concept at each level. in addition, the walls bear large-format illustrations of aircrafts in reference to EASA’s function. the technical images made up of decorative lines range from small paper planes on the ground floor, to hot-air balloons and gliders, and finally large a380 passenger planes on the seventh floor.


the seven office storeys are guided by the hues of the sky over cologne at sunset
image by jens kirchner, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur


each storey has its own colour, which is applied to the walls, carpets and furniture details
image by jens kirchner courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur


in contrast to the symbolic roof extension, the new windows in the historic facades are deliberately unobtrusive and plain
image by ralph richter, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur


plan, courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur


each storey corresponds to a different hue of the cologne sky
image courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur


floor plan
image courtesy of kadawittfeldarchitektur

 

 

project info:

 

location: cologne (DE)
built volume: GFA 30,000 m² (incl. underground garage), GIV 119,300 m³
completion: 2013–2016
client: HOCHTIEF projektentwicklung GmbH, niederlassung rhein-ruhr, cologne
final investor: commerz real AG, düsseldorf
occupant: EASA – european aviation safety agency
architecture: kadawittfeldarchitektur in corporation with graf + graf architekten
competition: 1st prize 2012
project management: burkhard floor

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: peter corboy | designboom

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