Background: Wilhelminenquarter, located on the pedestrian zone to the large Wilhelminen Place open square, combines retail space on the ground floor with offices and apartments on the upper floors. Originally comprised of varying building heights, tight-fitting canopies over retail spaces, and a seemingly random arrangement of band and perforated facades with miscellaneous other elements, Wilhelminenquarter was not complimentary to the surrounding area. The upper area of Wilhelminen Street is a largely homogenous section of Darmstadt’s post-war architecture. Opposite and adjacent four-story structures have uniform saddle roofs and follow the steep rise of the street at this point. A compatible design for a new façade was commissioned by the owner.
Design: A consistent roofline unifies the top of the buildings. After a feasibility study in 2016, a rooftop bar was approved and will be built on the southern roof surface, oriented toward the theater forecourt and the domed church. This brings the height of the Wilhelminenquarter to parity with other buildings.
Existing balconies were eliminated, enlarging living spaces, and facilitating a smooth façade with large windows on the upper floors. Each residential unit and each office is accentuated by a precise aluminum frame. The vertical surfaces become a convertible light object, which can convey abstract information via an LED matrix or convey different lighting moods.
The large entrance at the corner of Wilhelminen and Hügel streets is the convergence point for the alignment of the windows and the street-level canopy, arranged in accordance with the changing street grades. The canopy integrates lighting for the ground floor spaces and generous folding arm awnings which provide additional sun and weather protection.