City Plaza defines the remodelled square in front of the railway station which links Wuppertal’s railway station to the town centre. The centrepiece of a large urban redevelopment project features a curved façade clad with brass panels alternating with glass to create a striking ‘curtain wall’, lifting the area's look and feel alongside the major improvements to the surrounding public realm.
The size of the square in front of the railway station was reduced, creating a more human scale, for example, by proposing the relocation of the main building to bring it into closer focus.
Rather than a simple pedestrian bridge from the square to the station, Chapman Taylor’s Senior Architect, Yvonne von Salm, suggested a wider bridge with retail and F&B pavilions on either side. Previously, the railway station was cut off from the town centre by a busy dual carriageway and pedestrians had to walk through an unwelcoming underpass, the new pavilion bridge, now open, transforms the pedestrian experience and links the station with the city centre. Pedestrians crossing the new bridge barely sense that they are crossing a dual carriageway.
Chapman Taylor’s (CT) design for the main building was inspired by Wuppertal’s strong association with the textile industry. CT decided to create a multiply curved façade, leaning outwards at the upper levels by 4.6%, a total of two metres overall, which resembles the folds of curtains. The façade was constructed out of expensive materials; clad with brass panels alternating with glazing, creating a landmark focal point for the new plaza. The building coating was done by hand and cost over €500 per square metre. The original idea for its purpose was for it to house a number of retail tenants and a hotel across its five above-ground floors.
The pavilion-lined bridge design was created through an internal Chapman Taylor competition across a number of CT’s international design studios, which their studio in Düsseldorf happened to win; despite an independent jury. The winning design is a steel construction which makes use of folded glass panels. The design was implemented and the pavilions are now fully let and are operating.
There are a number of historic buildings nearby, but CT wanted to present Wuppertal as a vibrant blend of the old and the new, the contemporary design for City Plaza helps to achieve that in a way which still complements the wider urban landscape.
In terms of design, the curved and slanting façade of the building was a challenge, if it wasn’t for CT’s BIM capabilities, it might not have been possible; they had to design each individual panel with care because there couldn’t be a uniform size and shape, and each panel has a unique perforation to create a pattern. Therefore, each panel was numbered and allocated to its own position on the façade; this was a very complex process. CT designed the whole building in BIM, and the other contractors were able to make use of the model, simplifying the process, preventing clashes and saving a lot of time on the development.
A major construction challenge was that the site is situated on top of rock, which had to be dynamited away to allow for an underground level of car parking, service access and other facilities. This was a time-consuming and tricky process, and was also expensive. The dual carriageway also had to be lowered to facilitate the bridge.
City Plaza has become a key reference for discussions about how to regenerate urban centres during a period of uncertainty about the future of physical retail; the whole urban setting has changed for the better.
The wider renewal scheme received the Polis Award for ‘Regenerated Town Centres’ in 2016.