Dreischeibenhaus, Dusseldorf

Modernising a landmark

More than just a symbol of the Wirtschaftswunder or ‘economic miracle’, the 94-metre high office and administration building is one of the most significant examples of post-war modernism. Built from 1957 to 1960, the Dreischeibenhaus was designed by architects Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg. Since its completion, the landmark building has shaped the Dusseldorf skyline with its distinctive curtain wall of stainless steel, aluminium and glass. It is also regarded as exemplifying German high-rise construction. Some 50 years after opening its doors, HPP Architects, the successor to the original architects, were tasked with modernising this listed building. The result is nothing short of remarkable.

Today, the high-rise – in the heart of Dusseldorf – provides a total floor area of approximately 35,000 square metres, replete with the most modern office space and high quality appointments and amenities. The project, however, did present some unique challenges to all participants.

One particular challenge was to preserve the appearance of the building’s frame construction as the building was listed in 1988. At the same time, the project required the Dreischeibenhaus to meet modern building standards for heat insulation, fire protection and flexibility after renovation. Revitalisation of the building focussed on various aspects of the façade, expanding the interior and updating the building technology, all carried out according to ‘GreenBuilding’ criteria. (GreenBuilding is a voluntary energy efficiency programme for non-residential buildings that was initiated by the European Commission in early 2005.)

Building technology automation
In terms of forward-looking building technology, the use of advanced KNX technology in high-class, modernised office buildings is considered ‘state of the art’ today. The technology has long established itself as the worldwide standard. By using a smart bus system, the wide ranging and networked operation of individual building systems can be easily set up and expanded at any time. In addition to convenience, energy efficiency and cost effectiveness play a major role. The individual components of the system work hand-in-hand with KNX technology, with synergies between various functions exploited for advantageous opportunities.

For the Dreischeibenhaus, an emphasis was placed on the ability to control the room functions of separate offices from a central location. Therefore, the decision was made to install JUNG KNX compact room controllers. These were placed next to the doors, in the exact position where conventional light switches would have been installed.

The compact room controllers, in the classic LS 990 switch design, operate the sunscreens, heating and cooling as well as ventilation. To boost energy efficiency, lighting has been adapted to the amount of sunlight available and whether the room is occupied or not. This latter function prevents lights remaining on accidentally after the offices have been vacated, preventing unnecessary energy consumption. Of course, users always have the option to take over manual control of the automated system by using the compact room controller to dim the lights or switch them on or off according to their needs. To this end, a DALI sub-bus system was installed for lighting control and integrated with the KNX system via gateways.

The compact room controllers are supplemented by push-button sensors in the rooms of the Dreischeibenhaus. They can also be used for raising and lowering the blinds. Button functions are clearly marked with symbols using the JUNG graphic tool. The online tool allows customers to personalise JUNG components with pictures, symbols or text using laser engraving or colour printing.

Authentic materials
The high standard of quality achieved is reflected not only in the technology employed, but in the design as well. The distinctive Bauhaus style of the classic LS 990 range is underscored by the visual interplay with the genuine aluminium construction of the Dreischeibenhaus. The pure aluminium of the components subtly mirrors the timeless elegance of the architecture, allowing the push-button sensors, compact room controllers, switches and sockets to merge harmoniously with their surroundings.

The Dreischeibenhaus stands alone between the Hofgarten and the Schauspielhaus of Dusseldorf as a unique architectural testimony – even after modernisation – that was only further enhanced by winning the 2015 MIPIM Award as the ‘best refurbished building’.
Pictures: Henrik Schipper
Pictures: Benedikt Kraft

Used Designs and technologies