Europe’s Largest Green Façade Designed by Ingenhoven Architects

Ingenhoven Architects
Ingenhoven Architects has wrapped the Kö-Bogen II office block in Düsseldorf, Germany with almost 30,000 plants to form five-miles of hornbeam hedges.

Ingenhoven architects

These days more and more architects are emphasizing incorporating greeneryon skyscrapers and that is why these buildings are often termed as treescrapers.It seems like adding greenery on the buildings has become a fundamental design element. This design notion is gaining huge momentum in both Europe and Asia. How can we forget the Bosco Verticale, Milan that won the top building award 2015, with the two towers of 80 and 112 meters, accommodating 780 large and small trees11,000 plants, and 5000 shrubs? Europe’s largest green façade designed by Ingenhoven Architects follow the similar greenery principle. Look at SURFACES REPORTER's detailed report on this:

Ingenhoven Architects

Situated on the Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz in the Hofgarten district in Düsseldorf, Germany wherean elevated highway overshadowed the landscape until 2013, the Kö-Bogen II office block designed by Ingenhoven Architects is an epitome of greenery and sustainability. The entire building along with the terraces are covered with foliage. The planting strategy was accomplished in association with sustainable engineering firm Werner Sobek.

Ingenhoven Architects has wrapped the Kö-Bogen II office block in Düsseldorf, Germany with almost 30,000 plants to form five-miles or eight kilometeres of hornbeam hedges. The firm believes that the five miles of hedges make this Europe's biggest green facade.

"Kö-Bogen II was developed in response to the existing urban situation,"said Christoph Ingenhoven, founder of Ingenhoven Architects.

Ingenhoven Architects

According to the architecture firm, the green façade will help to maintain the temperature of the building and reduce the inner-city heat-island effect in Düsseldorf, and aid clean the air.

The studio determined that hornbeam hedges were the most appropriate way of integrating a large amount of greenery in the office development as the plants grow locally and are comparatively easy to maintain.

Ingenhoven Architects

The Sloping Green Façade is Inspired by Land Art

The office dominates a noticeable position opposite the 1960s Schauspielhau theatre and together with the 1950s Dreischeibenhaus tower. Inspired by Land art, the planted façade allows ‘Kö-Bogen II to oscillate in a deliberate indeterminacy between city and park – to enter into a dialogue with the Hofgarten’.

The sloping facades of five-story trapezoidal main building and its adjacent smaller, triangular counterpart turn towards each other and create a dynamic entrance to GustafGründgens-Platz.

"The sloping facades open up an unobstructed view to the icons of post-war modernism – the Dreischeibenhaus and the Schauspielhaus – and behind them, the public Hofgarten with its magnolia trees," added Christoph.

Ingenhoven Architects

Both facades are covered in hornbeam hedges offer an environmental advantage equal to 80 fully grown deciduous trees.

"Hornbeam hedges are common in Düsseldorf," he continued. "The plants we selected keep their leaves in winter. They thrive with a north and west orientation, withstand strong wind speeds, are unlikely to be infected by vermin, and only require two to three trims per year. And in winter months, no heating is required."

Building Design Details:

The building intercedes between the different aspects of urban life- between the pleasures of shopping and culture. Spread over an area of 42000 square meters, the structure comes for several uses, including gastronomy, retail, offices, and recreation

Ingenhoven Architects

The completely glazed five-story building façade gauzes 27 meters high and 120 meters long is one of the busiest shopping streets in Germany.

“Expanded metal slats structure the interior, varying in transparency from closed to open, depending on the perspective. The other facades including the roof are more tempered and planted with 8 kilometers of hornbeam hedges – Europe’s largest green facade.”

Even the accessible sloping room of another 10-meter high building, which is opposite to the main building is also entirely green and welcomes people to sit and relax under the sun.

Major Challenges While Raising Eight Kilometres of Hornbeam Hedges

Architects say that integrating greenery beyond the prior customary ‘balcony plants’ into an architectural design was something innovative and challenging that required a detailed phytotechnological concept, which is based on precise site analysis. The concept was well developed in collaboration with the botanist Prof. Dr. Strauch from Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and experimented in a trial installation.

The entire office is covered with five miles of hedges, which was a task but convincing the locals that the structure would appear as it envisaged was just as difficult as per the Architects. 

"Raising them, selecting them, caring, watering, trimming, guaranteeing their performance for 99 years and overcoming the public debate, that it would never look like in our drawings were the major challenges," said Ingenhoven. "Happily, it was possible to prove our thoughts and illustrations to be right."

To improve the city’s microclimate, the firm picked native hardwood to create the hornbeam. In the spring season, the hedges shimmer with their breezy, light green leaves, which darken to rich, dark green in summer, and then to golden brown in the autumn.

The hornbeam was chosen as a native hardwood, and the selected varieties keep their leaves in winter. In spring the hedges glisten with their fresh, light green foliage, which deepens to rich, dark green in summer, then to golden brown in autumn. 

The greenery all around gives a soothing feeling to eyes and protects the city with the sun’s harsh rays in summer, binds carbon dioxide, absorbs noise, minimizes urban heat, and supports biodiversity.

The meticulous analysis of the site helped to define the structural requirements such as the size and type of planters needed for the 1.3-meter-high hedges. 

According to the firm, “the shrubs on the terrace of Kö-Bogen II grow in conventional plant beds, those on the north- and west-facing facades are grown in a special system of horizontally arranged containers on a separate supporting structure that is firmly connected to the facade.” 

The plants were taken from a nursery where they had been cultivating since 2016, so the architecture firm would get them on the construction site in autumn 2019 with fully developed roots.

Project Details:

Project: Kö-Bogen II, Düsseldorf
Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
Programme: Retail, gastronomy, offices, underground car park
Competition: International competition 2014, 1st prize
Construction period: 2017–2020
BGF office building:  41,370 m2
BGF underground car park: 23,000 m2

Team: Ingenhoven architects Christoph Ingenhoven, Peter Jan van Ouwerkerk, Cem Uzman,

Mehmet Congara, Ben Dieckmann, Patrick Esser, Vanessa Garcia Carnicero, Yulia Grantovskikh, Tomoko Goi, Olga Hartmann, Jakob Hense, Melike Islek, Fabrice-Noel Köhler, Christian Monning, Daniel Pehl, Andres Pena Gomez, Peter Pistorius, Lukas Reichel, Jürgen Schreyer, Susana Somoza Parada, Jonas Unger, Nicolas Witsch, Dariusz Szczygielski, Stefan Boenicke, Thanh Dang

Project management:  AIP Bauregie GmbH, Düsseldorf

Structural planning: Plan Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Düsseldorf

Development Plan:  Heinz Jahnen Pflüger – Stadtplaner und Architekten Partnerschaft, Aachen Geotechnical consulting ICG Düsseldorf GmbH & Co. KG

Facade Planning: green facades and green roofs ingenhoven architects

Phytotechnology: building greenery Prof. Dr. Strauch, Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, Department of Life Sciences and Technology

Consultation on vegetation ecology- Prof. Dr. Reif, Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg, Chair of Site Classification and Vegetation Science

Photos © -Ingenhoven architects / HGEsch and city archive Düsseldorf 

About the Firm

Ingenhoven Architects were founded in 1985 by Christoph Ingenhoven and are one of the international pioneers of sustainable, ecological architecture. The office develops and realizes projects of all sizes and typologies in nearly every region of the world and in accordance with the highest green building standards, such as LEED, Green Star, BREEAM, DGNB, and CASBEE. In 1997, Ingenhoven Architects received international recognition for the RWE Tower in Essen, one of the world’s first ecological high-rise buildings. Since 1997, the office has been planning Stuttgart’s underground main railway station. Several award-winning high-rise projects have been built in Singapore, Japan, and Australia. The headquarters of Ingenhoven Architects is located in Düsseldorf’s Media Harbour, with branches in St. Moritz, Sydney, and Singapore.

*The content has been changed from its original form to conform it with SR's writing style. 

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