Neue Direktion, the former Directorate of German Railways is located in an open area, directly on the Rhine, and in the immediate vicinity of Cologne Central Station and Cologne Cathedral. It has recently been rebuilt according to the design of the kadawittfeldarchitektur office in cooperation with Graf + Graf Architects. Using the architectural concept as a guide, Licht Kunst Licht has planned a lighting scheme that highlights the historic charm of the building with splendid light, whilst 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– under this premise, the planners set out to redesign the former railway directorate, without neglecting the strong historical reference, yet still creating a modern appearance within the context of Cologne’s Rhine panorama.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.
Sustainable Symbiosis of Old and New
With the interaction of its neoclassical facade and glass structure, the Neue Direktion sets an architectural precedent in the Cologne Rhine panorama. Four of the seven floors of the building lie behind the historic shell, and a total of 30,000 square metres of office space have been created, providing a modern and, above all, flexible office infrastructure. In addition, the property was planned and built according to the sustainable criteria of the German Sustainable Building Council and was awarded the DGNB Gold Standard for Sustainability in October 2016. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been renting these ultra-modern office spaces since May 2016.
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, there were deliberately no visible lighting fixtures, but custom designs were developed for the best possible integration of lighting into the architecture. The lighting concept for the entire building was planned in close coordination with the Department of Cultural Heritage Protection and therefore, also the architecture. The light sources are always in the background, as the ambient lighting emphasises the historical charm of the building.
Comfortable Light – Flexible Control
The concept continues in the conference rooms in order to create a pleasant and refreshing working atmosphere with a glare-free yet powerful light. 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, users can adjust the illumination levels to flexibly adapt to 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.
During the design process, the EASA elected to use an open-space 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 is implemented by means of 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. The lighting design specifications for the illumination of the office spaces were multiplied over the entire building by the engineering office Bähr Consult, who added supplemental lighting for the lounge areas.
User-Dependent Lighting Scenes
Special architectural and lighting features include the impressive entrance hall, the office spaces on the upper floors, and the conference room on the uppermost floor. In fact, the contours of the original mansard roof are restored here by a series of metal bands stepping upward. Due to the very minimal architecture and well planned lighting design, there is a spectacular view of Cologne Cathedral on one side and the Rhine with the Hohenzollern Bridge on the other side. The glass office facades recede behind the band-like aluminum cladding, so that even roof terraces could be realised. 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. The simple courtyards in the core of the building impress visitors with huge art screens, and are featured with homogeneous and well shielded lighting. The building facade is uniformly illuminated by spotlights, which are mounted to the existing street poles for road traffic. The entrance portal, which consists of historic columns, is highlighted by additional accent lighting.
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.
List of luminaires and manufacturers (selection):
Conference areas, bistro ground floor, upper floor: iGuzzini – Laser Blade Stairs, 7th floor: iGuzzini – Laser Blade
Foyer, corridors ground floor, upper floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor:
Hoffmeister – LED Fortimo Flex
Central hall: iGuzzini – Laser Blade; Insta – instalight
Arcades ground floor, upper floor: Glashütte Limburg – Wandleuchte Historical staircase ground floor, upper floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor: iGuzzini – Laser Blade; Mawa – “seventies” 70’s
Foyer, ground floor: LEDLinear – VarioLEDTM Flex APOLLO2 + VarioOptic SOL Conference room 7th floor: LEDLinear – VarioLEDTM Flex Hydra HD36 + Vario Cover R diffuse + Profil gemäß LV; Trilux – LateraloP
Bistro, ground floor Prolicht – Super Sign direct; Selux – M60
Outdoor lighting, entrance: WE-EF – LED surface mounted ceiling luminaires
About Licht Kunst Licht
Licht Kunst Licht was founded in 1991 by Andreas Schulz in Bonn and Berlin. Their scope of projects encompasses office buildings, administrative buildings, buildings of traffic and transportation, shopping malls as well as private residences. The office has participated in over 800 projects in Germany and abroad. The size of the projects span from freestanding villas to construction projects with total budget of three billion euros. Artificial lighting and daylight planning are equal fields in Licht Kunst Licht’s scope of work. Currently, 34 employees from the various backgrounds, such as lighting design, architecture, interior design, scenography, electrical engineering and product design, working as a team on a wide variety of tasks.