rotterdam-based architecture practice MVRDV has been selected as the designer of a 65,000-square-metre mixed-use complex in kiel, germany. dubbed koolkiel, the proposal will redevelop a post-industrial site with an impressive structure hosting a hotel, offices, residences, commercial space, and an event space. by using a flexible design system — rather than a fixed and unchangeable plan — the project adapts easily to the needs and desires of the community as its development progresses.

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom
all images © MVRDV



currently occupied by a large, single-store building, the site has become notable in recent times for its connection to germany’s famous werner comics, which were printed in the building from the early 1980s. this building is now known as W8 medienzentrum and is home to a variety of companies working mostly in media and the creative industries. this has given the area a unique and charismatic identity, which strongly influenced MVRDV’s subsequent design. it’s because of this that koolkiel’s proposal calls to retain the existing structure as commercial units, topping it with apartments.

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom



next to the preexisting building, the dutch practice has proposed a new building with a zigzagging plinth containing offices and shops, topped by several cubic blocks of housing, and a small tower of offices spaces. at the end of the site, a 250-room hotel tower connects to the before mentioned plinth through a public event space which will be used to host exhibitions and events organized by the community.

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom



the exterior spaces are key to the project, seeing a courtyard between the buildings filled with a variety of street furniture for the residents to occupy. a rooftop park snakes its way around the three cubic blocks of housing while the project’s most eye-catching element is the façade panels, made from fiber reinforced concrete, which sit in front of the window and display a variety of icons inspired by the creative output of the locals. by considering the design not as a fixed concept but as a flexible system, the building as it is eventually constructed might fall anywhere on a spectrum of options, from a conservative series of boxes to a wacky yet charismatic collection of cantilevers and iconography.

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom



‘in a location with such a dynamic and creative existing community, it’s obvious that the community should have a say in this development,’ comments jacob van rijs, principal and cofounder of MVRDV. ‘koolkiel is not only inspired by them, but it also allows them to tailor the proposal to their wishes—we’re presenting them with not just a design, but also a question: ‘how ‘kool’ do you want it?’

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom

MVRDV's koolkiel redevelops a city block tailored to its creative community designboom



project info:


project name: koolkiel
location: kiel, germany
year: 2018+
client: kap horn gmbh
client spokesperson: ralph müller-beck, staatssekretär a.d. / state secretary (ret.)
size & program: ca. 65,000 sqm (hotel, office, event, restaurants, shops, housing, collaborative offices)


architect: MVRDV
principal-in-charge: jacob van rijs
design team: philipp kramer, bartlomiej markowski, ruggero buffo, bartosz karasinski, christine sohar, daniel mayer, and eleonora lattanzi
visualization: antonio luca coco, luca piattelli, masoud khodadadi
images: © mvrdv




structure: werner sobek
fire: wenzel + wenzel
cost calculation: wenzel + wenzel

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news