Graf + Graf Architekten, Montabaur
from 2014 Commerz Real
Neue Direktion in Cologne – A Modern Office Environment for the EASA
The former Directorate of German Railways is located directly at the Rhine near the Cologne Central station and the Cologne Cathedral. It was rebuilt according to the design of the kadawittfeldarchitektur office in cooperation with Graf + Graf Architects. The lighting concept was planned to respond to the architecture. It highlights the historic charm of the building with elegant light, while the light sources themselves always remain in the background.
Tradition meets modernity – under this premise, the planners set out to redesign the former railway directorate, respecting the strong historical reference, yet still creating a modern appearance within the context of Cologne’s Rhine panorama. The renovation follows a fine line between the preservation of the listed building, its associated historical facade, and the creation of a completely new and modern roof level, whose silhouette pays homage to the original roof contour.
The close cooperation with the Department of Cultural Heritage Protection continued into the interiors. The impressive, historic entrance hall, the large ceiling oval, and the staircases are just a few of the architectural features that have been faithfully recreated. In all instances, lighting fixtures were hidden from direct view and custom designs were developed for the best possible integration of lighting into the architecture.
During the design process, the EASA elected to use an openspace office layout. This layout is very suitable for the building, as it receives daylight not only from the Rhine side, but also from the two inner courtyards and the central atrium. The artificial lighting employs a uniform grid of pendant lights. This enables a flexible arrangement of the workplaces while generating a very uniform and clean appearance of the building from exterior perspectives.
Due to the roof’s very minimal architectural intervention and carefully planned lighting design, spectacular views of the Cologne Cathedral are available on one side, while the Rhine with the Hohenzollern Bridge can be seen from the other. The glass office facades recede behind the band-like aluminum cladding so that even roof terraces could be realized. The uppermost conference room invites you to a 360° view over the rooftops of Cologne and can meet its various usage requirements via the different lighting scenes.
In acquiring EASA as a tenant, Commerz Real has created nearly 1,000 new jobs for the city of Cologne and offers its employees a harmonious combination of historical and modern architecture. The balanced relationship between daylight and artificial light also ensures pleasant working conditions in this extraordinary project.
The concept follows through the conference rooms in order to create a pleasant and refreshing working atmosphere with a glare-free yet powerful illumination. The modern lighting, consisting of a uniform grid of nearly invisible linear downlights, enables a very dynamic use of the open-space meeting zones. Using intelligent light control systems, users can adjust the illumination levels to flexibly adapt to the room usage and the associated room layout. The discrete general lighting continues in the bistro and is supplemented by round surface-mounted lights, whose colors correspond to the interior finishes.