Benthem Crouwel Architects-designed cultural & retail venues complete in Koblenz
The project started as a won competition for the redevelopment of the ‘Zentralplatz’ in Koblenz. The program included approximately 20,000 sq m of retail space, urban functions and a 6,000 sq m square. 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 independently in the long-term. Because of the precise positioning of the buildings and their outline, the pedestrian flows are organised 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.
In the open square, the three functions each have their own entrance via prominent access elements such as spiral staircases (museum and tourist information) and the escalator (library). 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 floors two, four and five, with direct access to the roof terrace. The 30m-high open space inside connects the institutions vertically, brings daylight 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 centre is characterised 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 organised 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 façade’ (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.