Kaiser Hof
An elegant office structure embodying modern principles, with a subtle nod to tradition.
  • Location
    Cologne
  • Project
    New office building, showroom and restaurant
  • Client
    Art-Invest Real Estate
  • Architect of record
    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer
  • Planning and construction period
    2015–2019
  • Service phases
    1 – 4, 5
  • Gross floor area (AG/BG)
    13,960 m²/5,770 m²
  • Technical building equipment
    Bähr Ingenieure
  • Structural Engineering
    AWD
  • Fire Protection
    Rodermann
  • Landscape Architecture
    club L94
  • Implementation Planning
    Architektur Graf und Graf
  • Awards
    Iconic Awards 2020;
    German Design Award 2021
  • Photos
    HGEsch
  • This project is from the joint period of meyerschmitzmorkramer.

Not every existing property holds the potential for further development. For example, a feasibility study confirmed that the dilapidated end building of a 1969 listed office ensemble on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring was unsuitable for transformation. In its place since 2019 stands the Kaiser Hof, a vibrant new office development, where the former rear side now serves as the front. The striking facade of the Kaiser Hof building, seamlessly extending from threshold to parapet on three sides with rounded corners, gives it the appearance of a standalone structure. However, its architectural form blends harmoniously into the established neighborhood context like an urban building block. Situated between ornate Wilhelminian-style blocks, often filled in with pragmatic postwar buildings, and the bold architectural gestures echoing the zeitgeist of the 1990s at the Mediapark opposite, the Kaiser Hof is remarkably understated.

City in View

Those working on one of the six Kaiser Hoff office floors enjoy views of the greenery, glimpsed through the sparse crowns of trees adorning the newly landscaped forecourt. This space takes up the urban nature at the edge of the Mediapark and carries it through to the flanking avenues. Alternatively, the vista falls into the bright inner courtyard, enclosed by the C-shaped office building. As an integral part of the office landscape, the courtyard provides a welcoming, furnished, and sheltered environment for informal gatherings and leisure activities.
The top floor, set back as a staggered story, eludes perception at street level. Only its filigree cantilevered roof, tracing the curvature of the building, protrudes discreetly to conclusively complete the structure. One might even interpret this feature as a nod to the 1950s elegance still evident in parts of the Kölner Ringe boulevard encircling the old town. This uppermost level also houses offices; the two building ends accommodate a library and a training room, both opening onto a roof terrace – which, true to the spirit of Cologne, offers a view of the cathedral.

Dynamic Structure

The standout feature of the Kaiser Hof is undeniably its facade. At first glance, its design appears straightforward: vertical elements arranged in narrow bands delineate the stories in dense, uniform intervals. Behind this light-colored, almost lattice-like structure, the actual window surfaces are set dramatically far back in dark frames. By day, the facade presents as a unified whole; in the dark, it transforms into a luminous body, offering glimpses into the building’s bustling inner workings. Upon closer inspection, the shape of the vertical fiber concrete elements suggests a sense of dynamism. Unlike the horizontal bands, these elements curve and taper with subtle asymmetry, creating a delicate interplay of shadows and spatial depth that shifts depending on the viewpoint and lighting. Achieving this effect required close collaboration with the manufacturer to develop a result that met our exacting standards, with each element mounted and adjusted by hand. This exemplifies the artistry and precision of modern craftsmanship.

Royal Understatement

The interiors of the Kaiser Hof feature high-quality, durable materials. The window frames, aluminum on the outside, oak wood on the inside, establish a warm base tone. The terrazzo flooring in the lobbies echoes the materiality of the facade. Prussian blue painted ceiling coffers add refinement – regal elements that don’t have to shine in gold to be effective.
The multi-tenant building offers 17,900 square meters of floor space over two street addresses, housing tenants and event venues. Besides the convenient proximity to public transport, a three-story underground garage with parking spaces and charging stations presents streetscape congestion in the surrounding neighborhood.
Receiving the 2020 Iconic Design Award and the 2021 German Design Award Special for the Kaiser Hof was a great honor. We are also thrilled about our relocation to the fourth floor in summer 2019 – making our own office a vibrant showcase of our work.

Project team