The practice’s work in Duisburg began almost twenty years ago with the Microelectronic Park, which integrated buildings for new-technology companies, and created a new linear park, within a dense residential district. It demonstrated the potential to create attractive, mixed-use neighbourhoods that combine places to live and work. The underlying themes of that project were reinforced by the 1991 masterplan for the physical and economic regeneration of the Inner Harbour – the final piece of which is Eurogate – where new construction was combined with selective refurbishment to connect the waterfront with the centre of Duisburg, and establish a new urban quarter with all the amenities of the modern city.

Given the trend towards clean and quiet manufacturing industries, the potential exists to create new kinds of neighbourhoods which integrate places to live, work and play. In 1988 a masterplan was established to integrate new technology companies — which are replacing the old heavy industries of the Ruhr heartland — within a residential district of Duisburg. The first of the practice’s German projects to be realised, Duisburg brought with it new attitudes towards energy and ecology that would inform a range of schemes developed during the 1990s.

The masterplan creates a landscaped public park and three new buildings. The focal point of the development is the Telematic Centre. Circular in form, with offices arranged around a full-height atrium, it houses the management centre for the entire complex and provides space for small and medium-sized companies. The forum at the heart of the building provides a public space for exhibitions, conferences and musical performances, together with a restaurant and bar.

The largest building on the site, the Microelectronic Centre, provides multi-use flexible accommodation, such as laboratories, production areas, classrooms, offices and meeting rooms. Within an overall climatic envelope, three fingers of accommodation are articulated by two glazed atria, which create a sheltered buffer zone for exhibitions and cafés. A variety of passive cooling and shading devices is employed to minimise energy consumption.

Sketches + Drawings

Quotes

"

Norman Foster

“Our work in Duisburg is not about a single emblematic building. It has more to do with the collective power of diverse interventions.”

Norman Foster

“Sensible energy systems can not only reduce the initial costs of a building, but - as we have shown in Duisburg - can create a profit centre for the supply of energy to its users.”

Barrie Evans

“The Microelectronic centre is high-tech in the best sense, using state-of-the-art thinking. In this case that thinking has led to a simple design whose legibility should make it easy to manage.”

the Architect’s Journal, 27 July 1995

Peter Davey

“These buildings will be regarded in the future as stumbling steps towards a decent life for everyone. They are brave...and all in different ways offer hope. Hope for architecture beyond style. Hope that it can purge itself of Decon and PoMo, which would reduce us all to mere objects driven by irresistible forces. Hope, above all, that we can command ever-increasingly responsive technology with confidence to make a better world for us all to live in.”

the Architectural review, February 1993 "

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 1988
  • Completion: 1996
  • Area: 12,300m²
  • Capacity: 681
  • Client: Gesellschaft für Technologieförderung und Technolo
  • Structural Engineer: Dr Ing Reinhold Meyer
  • Quantity Surveyor: Hohler & Partner
  • M+E Engineer: Ebert Ingenieur

Awards

  • Bund Deutscher Architekten Architektur Preis Nordrhein Westfalen
  • RIBA Architecture Award
  • Bund Deutscher Architekten Kreisgruppe Rechter Niederrhein - Auszeichnung guter Bauten