Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Kulturbau ‘Forum Confluentes’ in Koblenz, Germany by Benthem Crouwel Architects
July 13th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Benthem Crouwel Architects
The project started as a won competition for the redevelopment of the “Zentralplatz”. The program included approximately 20.000 m² of retail space, urban functions and a 6.000 m² square.
Urban design concept
The complete program is split into two volumes, separated by the Zentralplatz. This separation of functions allows for two autonomous and highly functional buildings, which can develop long-term and independently. Because of the precise positioning of the buildings and their outline, the pedestrian flows are organized in an effective and logical way.
The Kulturbau houses the public library, the Mittelrhein Museum and the tourist information of Koblenz, with their ‘Zentrum der Rheinromantik’. The combination of these different cultural institutions offers the chance to exploit the synergies between the various institutions. The cultural building stands solitary in the new central square and is a landmark due to this solitary character, its facade design and the conscious elevation in the city. The building has splendid accessibility for visitors; the central lobby has entrances from all sides and is therefore a natural part of the urban fabric.
On the open square, the three functions each have their own entrance. Via prominent access elements like the spiral staircases (museum and tourist information) and the escalator (library), the institutions can be reached. Above the common ground floor area, the different functions overlap each other per floor. The permanent exhibition of the Mittelrhein Museum occupies the first floor. The library is located on floor two, four and five, with direct access to the roof terrace.
The 30 meters high open space inside connects the institutions vertically, brings day light deep into the building and offers a variety of outlooks. The volume has a double facade with a Structural-Glazing construction of white silk-screened glass, which envelops the building like a second skin and offers a frosted and refined appearance. The motif of the print provides a filtered view from inside to outside, and allows a vaguely transparent view when looking from the outside in. At the different entrances, the outer facade has a spacious cut and therefore offers a direct view of the lobby and entrance areas.
The mall Forum Mittelrhein presents itself as a flat, horizontally layered structure. Due to this powerful format, the building’s volume is reduced efficiently and a pleasant sense of scale is established. On relevant junctions within the urban fabric, the mall offers spacious entrances. The shopping center is characterized by its trapezoidal layout and smooth outlines. The areas intertwined with escalators offer orientation points, divide the building and provide the interior with natural light. Above the stores are adjoining rooms and a parking lot for about 740 cars. The parking spaces are organized around a central landscaped courtyard.
Together, the glass facade on the ground and first floor with standing formats, and the expressively shaped click frames, give a strong vertical orientation. The top three floors of the building are dominated by an artificial “Weinlaub facade” (wine leaf facade). The basis of the structure is an abstract image of a vine leaf, which is interpreted freely as a 3D-shape. The entire facade is composed out of only one type of element, that is produced in an industrial thermoforming process.
Benthem Crouwel Architects was founded in 1979 by Jan Benthemand Mels Crouwel. Today, the architecture firm has a staff of 50 people, and offices in Amsterdam and Aachen. The partners include Marcel Blom, Joost Vos, Marten Wassmann and Markus Sporer. The firm has designed a broad range of buildings, infrastructure, and interiors: museums, shopping malls, universities, music buildings, bridges, assisted living complexes, and master plans. In all their designs, Benthem Crouwel seeks a balance between economic, social and ecological interests, with a special concern for innovation and sustainability.
The firm takes pride in combining a signature style with compactness, simplicity, integrated ecosystems and an efficient use of materials. Recent projects include Schiphol Airport, the RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre, Ziggo Dome and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Kulturbau and shopping mall in Koblenz, a high-speed train bridge in Hollands Diep, university buildings in Nijmegen and Osnabrück, railway stations in Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam, and urban planning projects in Munich and Helsingborg.
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