Urban villa, Duisburg

Restoration of a listed urban villa
Located at Mülheimer Straße 43 in Duisburg, this listed villa was built in 1894/95 in the revivalist neo-Baroque style. The façade is adorned with neo-Baroque decorative elements such as rounded oriels and ornamentation on the window breasts. Inside, original wall and floor tiles and stucco ceilings underscore its historical character. One on side, the villa directly adjoins the neighbouring house, giving it a “double villa” character that is emphasised by the identical building lines and heights of the two buildings.

The layout of the villa is dictated by the centrally located stairway, around which the ground floor rooms – salon, living and dining rooms and a winter garden – fan out in a U-shape in line with the style of the period. These rooms are still recognisable today, even though several changes of owner and various alterations have changed the original layout over the decades.  

A scrupulously respectful restoration project
In 2012, Bibiana Grosser of Druschke und Grosser Architekten BDA acquired the building as the new location for her architecture firm. It was a case of “love at first sight”, and the architect and owner was quick to start the painstaking restoration work.  

First, the “double villa” character was restored thanks to a colour concept agreed with the owner of the neighbouring building. The plinth was painted grey and the other floors and the stucco ornamentation white. The windows were repaired and replaced where necessary. The exterior areas were also redesigned following the demolition of a garage complex constructed in the 1920s. Today, hornbeam hedges surround the property, creating a harmonious transition to the adjacent park.  

In order to reproduce the original layout, the recently added bathroom on the ground floor was completely stripped back. As reminder of the 20th century, however, the architects retained the bath fittings in the bathroom.  

The former entrance, which had been moved in the 1930s during the villa’s conversion from a single house to apartments, was also reconstructed. In order to create the individual apartments, it had been closed off from the stairwell with partition walls, modifying the curtail step of the wooden stairs in the process.

Despite previous conversion works, Druschke und Grosser Architekten BDA discovered a large number of original fittings unaltered in the villa, including the tiling in the kitchen, in the first floor stairwell and in the bathroom on the mezzanine landing. The oak staircase with its turned balusters, the marble flooring in the former entrance and the coffered doors and herringbone parquet on the ground floor remained unscathed. In the course of the refurbishment, the architects also discovered other original features, including plastered-over wall tiles and floor tiles which had been covered with lino. A suspended ceiling even concealed some ornately embellished stucco work, which even today helps discern the original layout of the villa.  

Visitors pass through the rediscovered entrance into a reception area that opens directly onto the parlour – now the meeting room. The indirectly lit stucco ceiling stands out from the pale-coloured walls. Contrasting with the pale walls, the light switches and sockets have been chosen from JUNG’s classic LS 990 range in Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier colours. The particularity of this range lies in the unique colour system developed by Le Corbusier, one of the major architects of the 20th century. Each of the 63 colours can be combined with any of the other systems. Convinced by their striking appearance and particular depth of colour, JUNG offers the LS 990 range in the matt, hand-painted Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier colours as a worldwide exclusive. In 2015, this innovative range won a German Design Award in the “Building and Energy” category.  

The meeting room offers a view of the hallway through a narrow glazed slit in the masonry wall, which also provides additional light. Adjacent to the meeting room are the bright office rooms. Here too the walls are coloured, with artworks, modern storage units and switches and sockets from JUNG’s classic LS 990 range in white adding a clean note. Rotary dimmers provide perfect light adjustment without annoying side effects. Automatic switches fitted in the hallways switch the lighting on automatically.  

While original stuccowork, tiling and flooring on the ground floor bear witness to the villas past, no such elements remain on the upper floors where this role is played – symbolically at least – by rugs and carpets. In addition, recesses in the walls serve as windows on the plaster layer below and thus the building’s history.  

With their deliberate attention to detail and keen eye for the essential, Druschke und Grosser Architekten BDA have succeeded in bringing this historical building back to life.