The plot was challenging: less than 100 m2 of space, narrow and long and nestled in a row of houses, which enjoy both ensemble and monument protection. The owner of the adjoining department store in the Düsseldorf Old Town acquired the plot in the year 2010 without a precise plan of what could be built on it. Out of his interest in art arose the idea for a duel-purpose Gallery Cafe, offering gastronomy as well as a dramatic entrance to a new exhibition space, situated in the previously unutilized attic of the adjacent building.
Global Architecture & Design Awards 2018
Third Award | Category: Mixed Use (Built)
Architects: Corneille Uedingslohmann Architekten
The city development plan forsaw a closed construction with a façade in the style of the respective neighbouring buildings. However the proposed fully glazed structure promised considerably greater potential and was in the end able to persuade the authorities to make an exception to the Old Town statutes.
After the demolition of the run-down previous building, the generated gap was closed by a spectacular glass and steel construction, which folds three-sided around the available space. The connections to the two neighbouring buildings are precisely formulated, the slanted course of the glass profiles in the façade skillfully mediates between the differing story heights.
The triangular glass panes of the roof loosen the otherwise dominating right-angles. A public café is located in the ground floor, while a lofty air space extends up to the entire height of the structure. The impressive interior is filled with light thanks to the all-glass exterior which provides unobstructed views of the Old Town and an exalted spatial quality. A glass elevator transports visitors along an imposing exposed three-story brick wall to the entrance of the gallery. The historic Sgrafitto image from the gable of the neighbouring house was reconstructed and positioned in the same place.
The 3m wide, pivoting glass pane on the ground floor can be completely opened allowing the interior to become an outdoor space during the warmer months. The interior was kept deliberately informal. Nothing should compete with the overwhelming spatial impression of the architecture, which brings a generous expanse of sky into the narrow alleys of Düsseldorf.
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