RKM 740 Tower Düsseldorf
J. Mayer H. und Partner Architekten
Cladding of clouds and waves
The pleated façade of the RKM 740 Tower triggers the most varied of associations. The architects’ blueprint envisaged it as symbolising the waves of the river Rhine flowing past. Cloud formations reflected in the water can likewise be made out in the new RKM 740 Tower’s graphic exterior. But the metal curtain wall façade can also be said to resemble a zip encompassing the building round and round again. The tower gets its name from its location at “Rhine kilometre” 740.
This system of distance coordinates begins at 0 in the city of Constance, on the eponymous lake from which the Rhine emerges, and follows the river northwards to its estuary in Rotterdam. A new residential and health-care district is taking shape in the Düsseldorf borough of Heerdt, on former hospital grounds running down to the Rhine, for which the RKM 740 Tower fulfils a highly visible “lighthouse” function for miles around. This 19-storey structure on the left bank of the Rhine affords views far out over the river and Düsseldorf’s harbour slotted into a meander on the other side of the city.
The architecture reveals contrasting qualities of transparency and closure in a double-skinned façade made of glass and metal respectively. Inner glazing allows plenty of light into the interior whilst facilitating generous views out. Gleamingly white bands of wavy dentate metal act as an intermittent outer skin round each floor. These cause the tower to shimmer slightly from a distance, thus heightening its unmistakeable presence.
Architecture and Object
J. Mayer H. und Partner Architekten: v. l. n. r. Andre Santer, Jürgen Mayer H., Hans Schneider
Photo: © Tom Wagner
“Like the building it encloses, the double-skinned aluminium curtain wall is notable for its impressive engineering and the judicious implementation of a range of dedicated technical solutions such as a custom-developed corbel,” was the opinion of the jury that honoured the RKM 740 Tower with the German Metal Construction Prize in 2021.
Zip, unzip – shut out, open up
“The perforated metal curtain wall was conceived as a means of creating a gently dynamic interplay of open and closed areas,” Andre Santer, partner in the J.MAYER.H and partners practice commissioned, explains. The façade is able to respond to prevailing circumstances in this way. It clams up protectively to the north so as to keep out the din from the nearby motorway, but opens up dramatically at all other points of the compass whilst nevertheless providing shade and protection from the wind. “Like a zip, the transitions between open and closed are fluid.”
The building’s extraordinary façade earned it the 2021 German Metal Construction Prize in the Window, Façade, Conservatory category. The jury made special mention of the solutions adopted for points of detail, some of which were thought up specifically for the building. But the tower’s hybrid uses are likewise ground-breaking. Fourteen residential floors sit atop a six-storey basement given over to a wealth of joint general practitioner surgeries and those run by specialist practitioners and therapists.
The architects chose the FSB 1144 door handle by Jasper Morrison “with reference to the building’s rounded formal idiom” and also employed the model as a window handle. Rounding off the range of hardware selected is the FSB 1053 lever handle for escape-route doors, a model sporting curvature of a formally more restrained nature. The architects opted for a Blasted Aluminium Dark Bronze Anodised finish (FSB 0710) for their handles, which are thus of a material and colour that blend in perfectly with the building’s façade profiles powder-coated in finely textured RAL 8019 (greyish-brown).
Photos: © Lars Gruber