Mercator One office building in Duisburg

Striking, elegant and sustainable

For this new building, Hadi Teherani Architects almost completely dispensed with plastics and composite components and instead relied on a few sustainable materials. Ceramic tiles from the Nova collection of Agrob Buchtal make a significant contribution to creating an elegant and at the same time pleasantly neutral background for the individual rental areas in the circulation and sanitary areas.

Entrée to the city centre

Since the low-lying aisle of the A59 motorway has been provided with a concrete cover, travellers leaving Duisburg Central Station no longer encounter roaring traffic and parked cars. Instead, they are welcomed by a spacious square with fountains, magnolia trees, an event area and specially designed seating furniture inviting them to linger. The fact that this square also serves as an entrée to the city centre is also subtly expressed in the literally directional, fan-shaped facade of the office building, which is directly opposite the listed station. The new building, erected on a former car park according to plans of the Hamburg office of Hadi Teherani Architects, bears the designation Mercator One - a name derived directly from its postal address.

Restrained and spirited at the same time

With its clearly structured facade of uniform floor-to-ceiling windows and a strictly rectangular grid of anthracite-coloured aluminium panels, the new building radiates an unagitated calm. Mercator One thus harmonizes wonderfully with the station building, which was built in the New Objectivity style at the beginning of the 1930s. Thanks to the floors, which are twisted in even steps, the 100 m long, 17 m wide and 26 m high building also has a distinctly dynamic effect. While this rotation is barely noticeable with 30 cm along the entire length of the long sides, the 5th upper storey projects an impressive 14 m above the ground floor at both ends. "This movement makes the building appear slightly different from every perspective. In addition, it directs the eyes and flows of movement of passers-by on their way from the station to the city centre”, explains Bernd Muley, the architect responsible for the project.

Stringent material concept as a plea for the circular economy

A decisive factor in the choice of materials for this project was the tight budget, which, however, was not inconvenient for the architects. After all, they did not want to create glamorous architecture anyway, but a solidly elegant building whose character reflects Duisburg as a city of workers and the metal industry. Following this idea, they developed a concept which included only a few materials - mainly aluminium, concrete, steel, glass and ceramics - and avoided the use of plastics and composite components. In this way, it is possible to remove the building materials at the end of the house's life cycle and return them to the circular economy as a valuable resource. The architects demonstrate that this form of sustainability already works today with the example of the aluminium facade: its panels are made of up to 90 % recycled aluminium - obtained from demolition projects, cars and food packaging.

Ceramic tiles as a sovereign frame

"In line with our intention to use only pure, honest materials, the interior of the building conveys the same puristic, elegant impression as the facade”, says Muley. "The public areas, such as the foyer and the lift corridors, follow the credo 'rough and tough', which suits the Ruhr region." Thus, after passing the foyer glazing, which is printed with a pixelated world map as a reminiscence of the cartographer Gerhard Mercator, one stands in a puristically designed foyer with authentic, raw materials. The walls are cladded with natural fibre-reinforced concrete slabs. The doors and letterboxes are made of waxed sheet steel, the dark colour of which corresponds with the window profiles. And the floor is covered with ceramic tiles from the Nova collection of the brand Agrob Buchtal in the colour basalt. The 60 x 120 cm tiles with their irregularly stony-earthy design merge seamlessly into the lift lobby. There, the clean carpet of the foyer continues as a central band of mid-grey tiles in the sense of visual accessibility. In addition, there is a kind of inlay work of alternating basalt and mid-grey tile strips, which points to the lift button in the form of an arrow.

Pleasantly unpretentious

Those who take the lift upstairs, which is also equipped with large-size ceramic tiles from the Nova collection, reach the distribution corridors in front of the four rental units with areas between 360 and 430 m², which are characterized by only a few selected materials, just like the foyer. Their sanitary areas and kitchenettes have the same basalt-grey floor tiles as in the foyer - partly complemented, however, by basalt- and mid-grey wall tiles. The puristic stringency, thought through down to the smallest detail, finally ends at the doors to the rental areas. There, it becomes clear what a pleasantly neutral background the access and sanitary areas form, which in turn underlines the individuality of the rental units.

Fit for the future

The timeless aesthetics far from fashionable short-lived trends is just as much a guarantee for a long service life of the building as the durability and high quality of the materials. For example, the robust ceramic tiles from Agrob Buchtal, made of natural clay, have the in-plant "Hytect" coating, which provides valuable additional benefits day after day: this innovative solution not only minimizes the cleaning effort, but also eliminates air pollutants and unpleasant odours and has an antibacterial effect without chemicals. Other future-proof features include the fact that no composite materials are used, thus facilitating subsequent recycling, and the flexibility of the floor plans. Thanks to the load-bearing exterior facade, the office spaces are almost completely free of supports, which means that they can be used by the tenants in an absolutely flexible way and are therefore open for all possible usage scenarios.

Contact
Werner Ziegelmeier (Head of Public Relations)
Phone: +49 (0)9435 391-3379
Mobile: +49 (0)160 90527159
Fax: +49 (0)9435 391-303379
Email: werner.ziegelmeier@deutsche-steinzeug.de

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Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 1

With its clearly structured facade, the new "Mercator One" office building makes direct reference to the listed railway station building (right edge of picture), which was built in the New Objectivity style at the beginning of the 1930s.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 2

The fan-shaped facades at both ends create a building which literally points the way, directing the flow of pedestrians from the main railway station towards the city centre.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 3

The facade panels made of up to 90 % recycled aluminium can - like almost all the materials used here - be recycled at the end of their service life and fed into the circular economy as a valuable resource.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 4

Purist, elegant materials characterize the foyer: large-size ceramic floor tiles from the Nova collection of Agrob Buchtal (colour basalt), walls made of fibre-reinforced concrete slabs, doors and letterboxes made of waxed sheet steel.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 5

The 60 x 120 cm tiles of the foyer with their irregularly stony-earthy design seamlessly merge into the lift lobby. There, the clean carpet of the foyer continues as a central band of mid-grey tiles in the sense of visual accessibility.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 6

Alternating basalt and mid-grey tile strips point to the lift button in the shape of an arrow. Large-size ceramic tiles from the Nova collection were also used in the lift.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 7

On the 30 x 60 cm wall tiles in the toilet for handicapped persons, the expressive pattern of the basalt and mid-grey tiles is emphasized particularly well.
Source: Agrob Buchtal GmbH / Jochen Stüber

Motif 8

The sanitary areas have the same basalt-grey floor tiles as the lift lobbies and the foyers.