Few people would envision a basement without daylight as an ideal location for a cafeteria. Yet, due to the creative and intelligent design of the Frankfurt based architectural office ttsp hwp seidel, in conjunction with the lighting concept from Licht Kunst Licht, the employees of an multinational banking and financial company in Düsseldorf feel transported to the banks of the river Rhine. In the process, biologically effective light supports the visitor’s natural biorhythm.
The canteen in the financial corporation’s basement was typical for its time of construction. While the edifice, built by HPP Architekten in the 1970s with its red granite facade still emanates timeless elegance, the windowless canteen had become visibly outdated. Technology, illumination and functionality were inadequate, creating a distinct lack of daylight and flair which effects the overall quality of the space. A renovation was therefore badly needed; the architecture and lighting of the staff restaurant and associated kitchen were optimized in an extensive renovation project. As a first step, the crooked and inefficiently used dining area and kitchen plan layouts were fundamentally simplified, and free flowing interlocking functional areas were established. As a result, the amount of seats could be increased from 150 to 200.
Added Value through Artificial Daylight
An essential design task in the renovation of the 465 sq m cafeteria was the introduction of an additional daylight component and a reference to the outside world. For structural reasons, only small window openings could be established. Comprehensive studies demonstrated that the daylight intake would be minimal and the positive effects of natural light and a view to the exterior imperceptible. “We performed calculations and realized that there is no possibility to provide sufficient daylight”, lighting designer and project manager Isabel Sternkopf from Licht Kunst Licht annotates. The added value for the user could therefore only be established through electrical light which simulates natural light with daytime-related and annual variations, dynamic changes in light colour, light direction and intensity, while simultaneously supporting the circadian rhythm of the occupant.
Rhine-Panorama Creates Virtual Exterior Reference
As a result, the idea of a 22-meter-long floor-to-ceiling artificial panorama window wall was born. Extending across the entire canteen rear wall, it compensates for the lack of daylight by establishing a mimicked relation with the exterior. “The backdrop shows a view of the Rhine that one might see from a room at ground level” explains Isabel Sternkopf. An intelligent lighting control system responds to the light colour and direction as well as to the light intensity of the actual outdoor daylight conditions and adjusts the indoor light atmosphere accordingly.
Visible from the entire dining and self-service area, the panorama window displays the work of artist Stephan Kaluza. For his series “The Rhine Project” he followed the entire 1,233 km of the river Rhine and documented his voyage with series of camera shots, made every few minutes. The photograph was printed on pleated drywall to create spatial depth and density. It is illuminated by 1.5 m long tunable white LED profiles, which are concealed in the ceiling behind the glazing. Starting with warm 2,700 Kelvin in the morning, the light colour gradually changes to a cool 6,000 Kelvin around noon and returns towards warmer hues in the evening. Similar floor mounted RGBW-LED profiles, mounted behind the glass wall, allow for an upward grazing light effect on the backdrop in order to emphasize and intensify its texture. These fixtures create light colours in orange hues for the light scenes during sun rise and sun set.
Visibly Structured – Rich in Contrast
“More a restaurant than a canteen”, is how the architect and project manager Tanja Nopens from ttsp hwp seidel describes the dining area. Functionally, it is organized in four zones with distinct lighting approaches, ceiling heights and furniture: The largest area, with long wooden benches under an open ceiling entirely painted in white, is the central meeting point for larger groups to eat and exchange ideas. The wooden furniture designed for the project, creates punctual warm accents that contrast with the filigree black seating.
The focal point for visitors is the free flow area with the food counter. Designed entirely in black, its spaceship-like counters extend to the kitchen partition wall, which is lined with oversized white tiles. Towards the exterior wall is a narrow zone with a group of 4-person tables, which is surrounded by building columns and a lower ceiling, thus making it suitable for quiet and more confidential conversations. Behind it, the 22 m long artificial window stretches like a panorama.
Daylight-Resembling Atmosphere – Gentle Light Transitions
The illumination is inviting, just like in a restaurant. Some seating areas are accentuated by pendant luminaires, while large flex-use seating zones at the center of the dining room are more evenly illuminated by a grid-like light structure. The vibrant accent illumination above the buffet stations via downlights with a colour rendering of Ra > 90 highlight the food in a true to colour fashion, and is complemented by discreet ceiling recessed luminaires in the circulation areas. The colour temperature of the circulation lighting and the illumination of the adjacent open kitchen area is also variable and is controlled in sync with the luminous panorama window wall. All luminaires are programmed in accordance with the circadian rhythm to create an atmosphere similar to daylight. The gentle light transitions create the impression that one is in a room with illuminated primarily with daylight and only supplemental electrical light.
With this extraordinary project, which has been awarded numerous prizes, for example an Award of Excellence at the IALD Awards 2018, the German Lighting Design Award 2018 in the Hotel / Hospitality category and an Award of Merit at the IES Illumination Awards 2018, Licht Kunst Licht shows the design result of a biologically active illumination for a daylight-deprived space, where the individual circadian rhythm of its occupants is respected and supported.
Project: Casino Düsseldorf
Architect: ttsp hwp seidel Planungsgesellschaft mbH
Lighting design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Bonn / Berlin
Project and team leader: Isabel Sternkopf
Building services consultant: Ingenieurbüro Heiming, www.heiming.de
Interior contractor: Röttlingsberger Innenausbau, www.roettlingsberger.net
Artwork: Stephan Kaluza, www.stephan-kaluza.de
Photos: Johannes Roloff (Licht Kunst Licht AG)
Specified luminaires – extract:
Linear LED uplight profiles for illumination of panorama wall: iGuzzini
Integrated spotlights above table in main visitor room: Soraa
Decorative pendant luminaires: XAL, Artek