Outside of Essen, Germany, sits the Krupp Belt, a 568-acre redevelopment that has, until recently, been very nearly empty. Much of the site was littered with rundown and largely abandoned factories until Krupp Park, a 57-acre public greenspace opened last year. Now, new construction is revitalizing the site’s built landscape as well: The ThyssenKrupp Quarter is a multibuilding campus that houses manufacturing conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG’s main offices. Designed by the team of JSWD Architekten in Cologne, Germany, and Chaix & Morel et Associés in Paris—who together beat out more than 100 submissions in an international competition—the campus had to answer the need for not only a cornerstone for the larger development, but a signature identity for the company.

But before construction could begin, the site’s industrial past had to be reckoned with: Nearly two hundred years of steel production meant that extensive soil remediation had to be completed. This required the sifting and cleaning of 15.9 million cubic feet of earth, and during the process, the cleaned soil was moved to create small hills and a parkscape around the site.

For the design, the team shied away from a traditional corporate tower. “We decided not to do a high-rise building like you would find in New York,” JSWD co-founder Jürgen Steffens says. “The gesture was too big for ThyssenKrupp, so we decided instead to make a small high-rise.” Rising 165 feet, and standing at the head of a long reflecting pool that leads some 980 feet to an access road, the headquarters building (otherwise known as Q1) is the clear center of operations on campus; the eight surrounding buildings have a maximum height of 82 feet to give the complex “a more human scale,” Steffens says. Every building is situated around an atrium or courtyard to “signal that the people work together and have a dialogue,” he adds. And the organization of the program also helps this cross-pollination. More than 500 people work in the headquarters building, and meeting rooms and the employee canteen are located in other buildings on site.

One thing employees do not need to go outside for is fresh air. All of the buildings on the campus follow stringent German sustainability standards and, as such, are naturally ventilated. This is particularly notable in the headquarters building, where offices surround a vast 10-story atrium that is not air-conditioned. “The idea was not to heat or cool the whole atrium, which is a huge volume of air,” Steffens says. “It would cost a lot of money, and not be sustainable.” Exceptions are made for employee comfort in targeted zones, which the team refers to as “microclimatic interventions.” In these spaces, radiant heating is employed and reflected off of canopies to create a zone of warmer air.

A complex sunshading system makes the lack of air conditioning possible in the glazed structures. Stainless steel louvers and fins open and close based on the sun’s path to maximize views out, while reducing glare and cutting down on heat gain. But the sunshading system—with its triangular, square, and trapezoidal fins—also serves to give the campus buildings their signature appearance.

“The detail of the sunshading system is the character of the whole,” Steffens says. “When you look at the building in the evening when the sun is going down, it is absolutely amazing to see what the stainless steel does with this red light.”

Project Credits

Project Q1 Building, ThyssenKrupp Quarter
Location ThyssenKrupp Allee 1, D-45143 Essen, Germany
Client/Owner ThyssenKrupp AG
Architect JSWD Architekten | Chaix & Morel et Associés
Team Patrick Jaenke (responsible partner, JSWD); Maic Auschrat (project director, JSWD); Walter Grasmug (responsible partner, C&M); Misha Kramer (project director, C&M)
General Planning & Project Mangement ECE Projektmanagement, Hamburg
Structural Engineer IDN Ingenieure, Duisburg
Electrical Engineer Dörflinger & Partner, Erfurt; ITS Ingenieurtechnik Scholz, Essen
Civil Engineer IDN Ingenieure, Duisburg
Geotechnical Engineer Asmus & Prabucki Ingenieure, Essen
Landscape Architect KLA Kiparlandschaftsarchitekten, Andreas Kipar, Duisburg and Mailand
Lighting Designer LichtKunstLicht AG, Bonn and Berlin
Specialist Consultant Panoramic Window Q1 Werner Sobek, Stuttgart
Sunshade/Solar Protection Consultant Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg
Façade Area Consultant Priedemann Fassadenberatung, Berlin (L.PH. 24 Planning); AMP Beratende Ingenieure, Neuss (L.PH. 5–8 implementation planning)
WindConsultant Ingenieurgesellschaft Niemann & Partner, Kassel
Size of Headquarters Building 118,295 square feet (active space)
Size of Campus 325,070 gross square feet
Total Cost 85.2 million € ($115.96 million)

Materials and Sources

Building Management Systems and Services Siemens Building Technologies buildingtechnologies.siemens.com
Ceilings Lummel lummel.de/en
Exterior Wall Systems (Façade) Schüco International schueco.com
Elevators ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Twin elevator system with stainless steel cladding) thyssenkruppelevator.com
Glass Innoverre innoverre.de; Hefi Glaskonstruktiv hefi-glaskonstruktiv.de
Interior Doors Hörmann hoermann.de
Metal ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe (sunshading fins and louvers) thyssenkrupp-steel-europe.com/en
Plumbing and Water System Kaldewei kaldewei.com; KEUCO http://www.keuco.de/
Walls (Partition Panels) Strähle Raum-Systeme http://www.straehle.de/
Windows, Curtain Walls, and Doors Dorma dorma.de