Frankfurt: European Central Bank (Germany)

European Central Bank

Sonnemannstraße 20, 60314 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Coop Himmelblau (2003-14)

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 02_Stephen Varady Photo ©

In 2003, the European Central Bank ran an architectural design competition for a new headquarters building in Frankfurt. From a list of 80 architects they selected 3 finalists with Coop Himmelblau eventually selected as the architects for the project.

Completed in 2014, the building is a sparkling jewel on an old industrial site on the bank of the Main River, a leisurely 30-minute walk from the centre of Frankfurt.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau_location plan

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 08_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau_site plan

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 12_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Coop Himmelblau looked to reinterpret the language of the standard glass office building – the design concept takes a rectangular prism, cuts it with a parabolic slice, and repositions the 2 pieces in relation to each other. The space between then becomes a series of public spaces the architects called a ‘Vertical City’.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau_model1

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau_model2

In their words: The atrium between the office towers becomes a “vertical city”. Through platforms we are creating spaces, plazas and pathways between the towers, just as they exist in a city. The connecting and transferring levels divide the atrium horizontally into three sections of different sizes, with heights ranging from around 45 to 60 meters. These connecting platforms, bridges, ramps and stairs form a network of links between the office towers. They create short paths between the individual office floors in each tower and thus enable larger, interconnected usable office spaces on one or more floors in both towers, thereby also promoting informal communication. This new typology supports a dynamic development of form and enables differentiated office spaces with different panoramic perspectives.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 14_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 15_Stephen Varady Photo ©

As you walk around the building, there is a mesmerising transformation of perspective as the reflections of sky and clouds shift in the curved glass façade.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 16_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 17_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 19_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 21_Stephen Varady Photo ©

There are also glimpses into the public spaces (and structure) at the centre of the building.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 22_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 24_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau_section

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 26_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 29_Stephen Varady Photo ©

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 33_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The entry to the tower is via a new insertion into the historic ‘Grossmarkthalle’ on the site. In keeping with Coop Himmelblau’s strategy for the tower, this is also a dramatically twisted form.

European Central Bank by Coop Himmelblau 34_Stephen Varady Photo ©

 

Further Information:

Place: European Central Bank

Architect: Coop Himmelblau

Photographer: Stephen Varady

Review: NY Times (19 Nov 2004) and Arch Daily (11 Nov 2016) and construction images and design video on Designboom (30 May 2014)

Map: European Central Bank Map

 

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