Weekend Travel: Dusseldorf | DE

This is the story of how I ended up unexpectedly in Dusseldorf, Germany this weekend.

Prologue

Friday night, me and my travel buddy were biking harder than ever to catch my bus to Paris. We made it right on time. Exhausted and out of breath with shaky limbs, I forced myself to sleep and hoping to wake up ready to check all the awesome stuff the city has.  I was really excited to visit one of the most prominent cities for architecture in the history. But.. 

I couldn't sleep. The guy sitting next to me kept asking me if I have internet on my phone and if I can access the latest news. I told him I put my phone in flight mode so I don't get charged extra when I pass the border.  However, I noticed the bus has been not moving for more than an hour. People were talking anxiously and I overheard about the attack in Paris and the official was closing the border. The bus was going to attempt to go through anyway, as the majority of passenger on board hold French passport. That means no luck for me. Luckily, the bus was parked in front of Utrecht central station. We got off the bus and tried to catch the last train. It was 12.38 midnight, we got on the last train to Amsterdam departing at 12.40. We stayed over at a friend's place that night, I decided to quickly come up with a plan to go to Dusseldorf, Germany. And here is how the weekend goes..

Ordered repetitive windows.

Ordered repetitive windows.

Organized chaos of instagram pictures with #dusseldorf.

Organized chaos of instagram pictures with #dusseldorf.

Scattered posters and writings.

Scattered posters and writings.

 

Hafen Dock

The dock is a prominent area of the city where Rhine river bends and creates delta. This is also where the city established new development, where contemporary architecture has its place and proliferates. Dusseldorf's Aldsadt (old city) is just right up north of the delta and substantially small, that's why I will not expose much about it and instead put my interest towards the new development.

The Old Town has an area of half a square kilometer (which is less than a quarter of a percent of the whole city) and has 2297 inhabitants (2000), less than half a percent of the population of Düsseldorf.
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altstadt_(D%C3%BCsseldorf)
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The Düssel is a small right tributary of the River Rhine in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. Its source is between Wülfrath and Velbert. It flows westward through the Neander Valley where the fossils of the first Neanderthal man were found in 1856. At Düsseldorf it forms a river delta by splitting into four streams (Nördliche Düssel, Südliche Düssel, Kittelbach, Brückerbach), which all join the Rhine after a few kilometers.

Düsseldorf takes its name from the Düssel: Düsseldorf means “the village of Düssel”. The name Düssel itself probably dates back to the Germanic thusila and means “roar” (Old High German doson).
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%BCssel
Architecture playground

Architecture playground

 

In Orbit by Tomas Saraceno

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K21 Museum was the first destination we checked once arrived in Dusseldorf. We went directly to see this awesome installation which was supposed to end a year before but got extended until the end of 2015.  The Argentinian artist's installation features layers of net stuffed with giant balloons suspended 40 meters above the ground. It offers a  totally immersive unconventional spatial experience, beyond belief, beyond expectation! 

Looking up from the lobby of K21

Looking up from the lobby of K21

Study model, notice the sphere as key element to generate the space in between layers of net.

Study model, notice the sphere as key element to generate the space in between layers of net.

This model reminds me of typical Maya generated project with fluid continuous surfaces.

The layers of net allows a unique creation of space. Difference between levels are gradual and indistinctive, allowing people to fluidly move from one level to another. Floor, or the surface you step on becomes more of a field of landscape that goes up and down

Once I stepped in, it feels unusual to step on an unstable surface. We are used to step on the firm stable ground, here, you have to constantly balance yourself as other people moves, the momentum would transfer through the nets and you would need to react to counter balance. 

When you try to balance yourself, you look down, you realize you're 40 meters up in the air.

When you try to balance yourself, you look down, you realize you're 40 meters up in the air.

 

K21 has a great Tomas Saraceno collection, here is another one, this one involves spider webs. This time he explores the notion of controlled nature, where human put certain boundaries and condition the spiders to populate the space organically but in accordance to a certain parameter established before. 

Curated growth of spider webs.

Curated growth of spider webs.

 

A Long Day by Chiharu Shiota 

I must admit this is yet another amazing installation that blows me away here in the same museum. Shiota's work is spatially interesting as it involves manipulation of everyday objects in such a delicate way. My first impression is somehow reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. Why? Because it looks like it comes from the Wonderland, magically surreal. 

A set of desk and chair with sheets of paper sort of blown up and floats away and spread out inside the room, Shiota used black thread to capture the moment, the dynamic, the sense of movement of objects. Even though the thread looks random, it does add another level of depth of space and directionality, it shows relationship between objects, it informs where each object is going to move or from, and it creates a field of vector traces that forms so-called pseudo space. The installation ultimately offers the experience of understanding the presence of defined space without defining the space. Beyond, it explore the possibility to freeze a dynamic moment and a notion to defy the nature of gravitational force. 

Glorified object inside the field of thread. It is actually hanging on the space through the crisscrossing thread. No additional support.

Glorified object inside the field of thread. It is actually hanging on the space through the crisscrossing thread. No additional support.

Similar approach is being studied in capturing an object in the air. Stunning work!

 

The Stadttor by Overdiek, Petzinka & Partner

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I discovered this building by chance when I was roaming around the south dock. At a glance, it looks humongous, however, the technical aspect of the facade is amazing. First of all, its approximately 60 meter-tall spider fitted glass facade. Second of all, of course spider fitted means no mullion on each window frames. Worth to notify is the gigantic truss structure behind the facade to support mainly the building but also the glass facade. Glass panels are laminated and fitted with silicone sealant to each other and leveled by the spider fitting. Sure enough you can tell the amount of  effort to engineer the detail and to assembly within certain range of precision tolerance.  

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What the facade actually does is to have double skin assembly which the outer layer performs as weather / water barrier while the inside provides temperature insulation. This strategy allows the building to reduce the amount of energy needed to operate since it only conditions air within the insulated inner facade, reducing the need to condition significant amount of air in the atrium. 

 

Roggendorf Haus by Rosalie, Norbert Winkels with Flossis, artwork by Rosalie, Stuttgart

Bright colored plastic sculptures climb the facade.

Bright colored plastic sculptures climb the facade.

Climber Toy Available in Amazon

Climber Toy Available in Amazon

That reminds me of the climber toy I used to got from McDonald when I was 7 years old. Not sure how I feel on having it oversized and climbing 5 stories building. It's pretty interesting to see this strategy of integrating art installation on the facade as an architecture decision in order to leave the existing facade as is. In terms of its response to the context, it sets apart its architecture approach from the other building around. I guess it does its job.

Wil Alsop's not-so secret architecture sauce, massive cantilever!

Wil Alsop's not-so secret architecture sauce, massive cantilever!

Inspiration of Zaha's Port House? Or inspired by?

Inspiration of Zaha's Port House? Or inspired by?

Colorium by WIll Alsop

Colorium by WIll Alsop

Super Miesian building with a twist. Interesting double skin facade with external shade (between outer layer and inner layer).

Super Miesian building with a twist. Interesting double skin facade with external shade (between outer layer and inner layer).

 

Der Neue Zolhoff, Frank Gehry

The starchitect's project might be not as famous as it should be, however, it does embody Gehry's mastery on material use and fabrication method. The three buildings are office towers featuring different facade materials. The north building is finished with white plaster, taking advantage of the material finishes, the building shape is more curvilinear, with soft swooping angle with less pointy edges. The center building is clad with Gehry's signature metal panel, the building shape features soft fold as in fabric or paper. The third, south building, has brick facades, the building shape is more choppy and with more aggressive angular edges. Gehry produces the building's shapes based on the pre-determined material and its limitation. 

Windows dance on plaster

Windows dance on plaster

Windows dance on metal panel

Windows dance on metal panel

Windows dance on brick

Windows dance on brick

The building seems to distance itself from its surrounding context, typical Gehry building. However, I feel it is necessary to acknowledge his determination on pushing forward the potential of different material. His genius also appears on the use of typical window system throughout the three buildings. The system allows the window to be placed in whichever angle possible relative to the facade as it has several elements with adjustable properties to allow such flexibility. 

Similar window system on all building. 

Similar window system on all building. 

Notice the 'fin' on one side of the window to allow flexibility to slide in and out relative to its facade surface.

Notice the 'fin' on one side of the window to allow flexibility to slide in and out relative to its facade surface.

 

Ko-Bogen by Daniel Liebeskind

Yes this is another Liebeskind building with criss-crossing lines that slices the building. I was not quite impressed with this building. However, it is necessary to notice that this is a commercial project where every square footage need to be sell-able. Still, the pattern shift on the facade is quite weak to justify; and the deeper slice with fancy planter box? I hope it could serve at least as circulation or balcony. Oh well, it is hard to justify every architecture gesture especially in commercial project. I have to admit that Daniel Liebeskind is really good at conceptual thinking and his approach is best applied towards cultural projects or project that requires deeper thoughtful interpretation. 

Liebeskind's building and its context.

Liebeskind's building and its context.

 

NRW Forum

To end our trip, we went to NRW Forum right up north the Aldstadt. They really have awesome contemporary art collection there. In addition, do check the glass collection! Unfortunately I don't have much documentation on that as both my phone and camera battery ran out. 

Void and grand stairs on NRW Forum.

Void and grand stairs on NRW Forum.

 

Note:

We accidentally extended our Dusseldorf trip for another night. We missed our train back to Amsterdam by 5 minutes after waiting for 2 hours in the train station. We were initially trying to catch the earlier train back. However, the earlier train got delayed for 2 hours, which makes it not so different from our initial train schedule. We spent the time in a bookstore reading almost all English magazines available. We were aware of the schedule of our train back, we went to the platform to found out that our train back was delayed for 10 minutes. As the weather was a bit windy, we went back down to wait. As we chatted, time went by. We missed the train by a mere 5 minutes.

Oh dear...