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D-Düsseldorf Housing on Orsoyer Strasse
The housing development at Orsoyer Strasse, close to the Rhine River in the north of Düsseldorf, wonderfully shows that there is more to contemporary urban planning than narrow-minded rowtype housing, burgeoning detached housing estates and stubborn perimeter block developments. Its six large but compact and angular city villas as well as another angular front-side building, create a unique urban density with diverse and generous open spaces. The low-key and serene housing complex is the successful result of a dialogic workshop that allowed citizens to participate in a “round table” setting.

Following German re-unification, it was the withdrawal of British troops from North-Rhine Westphalia that made the new buildings possible as the old military officers’ apartments on the site became obsolete. The impressive old sycamore trees at Reeser Square have been preserved and lend the street and the surroundings of the housing complex a distinctive charm.

The large two-storied urban row houses on one side of the street have been saved from being dwarfed by their higher and newer neighbors having four or six floors on the other side of the street. The design undoes the Gordian knot in urban planning, employing some simple but refined measures: to fit into existing scales, the building complex architecturally mediates between a four-story building complex on Kaiserswerther Strasse in the rear and the twostory building development at Orsoyer Strasse, by dividing the entire building mass into street-lining and internally stacked, individual buildings. This not only leads to more friendly neighbors, but also provides improved natural lighting and ventilation, creating a larger facade surface used for French windows and generous balconies. Spatial quality and high density suddenly don’t seem to exclude one another anymore, but on the contrary, appear to support each other. ASTOC was able to win the competition with their unique concept, permitting the firm to design everything from the urban plan to the development plan and to the smallest architectural details. This provided ideal conditions for achieving the unusually high and consistent quality of the housing complex’s design. The client was the Bayerische Hausbau from Munich.

A crisply designed courtyard groups a series of white city villas with gardens and generous loggias around it. Taking into consideration the neighboring buildings, the white plastered cubes also have an eaves height of only two floors. Building corners have been left free to leave space for loggias and to give the buildings additional lightness. The two upper floors are stacked back and lead on to large roof gardens. On the narrowest part of the plot there are square townhouses and, wherever the shape of the site permits, larger townhouses with a greater depth.

The design of the open spaces was as important as that of the buildings and apartments. The open spaces are carefully graded and lead from a public space via a semi-public space to the private open spaces of the residents. A low natural stone wall shields the gardens from the street, while utilizing a material that has characteristically shaped the neighborhood. The loss of green spaces and the sealing of the soil are compensated by green roofs, including extensive flat green roofs that also serve to improve the city climate in this densely packed urban district.

The ground plans have been designed to be flexible and versatile, encouraging a good social mix of the resident population in the street. Apartments range from 65 to 200 square meters in size. Inside, the elegantly understated quality of the buildings is also clearly discernible, appearing both homely and noble.

Große Nike 2010, Architekturpreis des BDA, Nomination;
Architekturpreis NRW 2007, Bund Deutscher Architekten, honouring;
Auszeichnung guter Bauten 2006, Bund Deutscher Architekten, Düsseldorf, honouring

Bayerische Hausbau, Munich

Planning and Realisation
Competition 2001, First Prize
Planning 2001-2002
Realization 2003-2004

GFA: 11.800 sqm

Ruth Bünker, Christian Dieckmann, Niels Frerichmann, Till Hoevel, Dana Kurz, Guido Meier, Tanja Nelles, Ute Pientka, Norbert Philippen, Oliver Schmidt, Mira Siefken, Robert Wetzels

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