Neuer Garten
From military to residential: historic barracks reborn as vibrant living spaces
  • Location
    Düsseldorf
  • Project
    Conversion of a former barracks to apartments
  • Client
    Vivacon AG
  • Architect of record
    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer
  • Planning and construction period
    2005–2008
  • Service phases
    1–5, 8 (artistic supervision)
  • Gross floor area
    18,000 m²
  • Photos
    HGEsch
  • This project is from the joint period of meyerschmitzmorkramer.

In the late 19th century, the Ulanenkaserne in Düsseldorf’s Derendorf district stood as the largest barracks complex in the Rhineland region. Nestled within a spacious park adorned with mature trees, the ornate brick building ensemble holds listed status. Following years of interim use – including as a police headquarters and school – the site lay dormant until Vivacon AG commissioned us to refurbish the four structures – Erich-Klausener-Haus, Hans-Gross-Haus, Westfalenhaus, and the service building – into residential dwellings. Once isolated from the urban fabric by its military function, the revitalized site now thrives as a dynamic residential quarter with 170 new apartments of varying sizes. Dubbed Neue Garten (New Garden), the development has grown harmoniously with its surroundings. Its protected inner sanctum is pedestrian-friendly and free from through traffic. Public green spaces feature benches and playground amenities, fostering community interaction and conviviality for all ages.

New Perspectives

Our renovation of the historic barracks involved close coordination with the monument preservation authorities to seamlessly blend the new residential use with the original architectural character. We aimed to create both charming and functional living spaces within the historic walls. The addition of curtain balconies enhances the quality of living, with filigree floor slabs and railings discreetly complementing the visual aesthetics. Steel girders supporting the balconies were inserted through the brickwork and connected to the steel-stone ceilings, lending an impression of remarkable lightness. After cleaning all facades, any destroyed or missing stones and decorative elements were replaced with salvaged material, while gaps in plaster and mortar were repaired. All windows were renewed to match the original structure, form, and color scheme while meeting contemporary energy efficiency standards. Floor-to-ceiling French doors grace new entrances to balconies, terraces, and private gardens. Additional entrances and stairwells were strategically incorporated to ensure convenient and direct access for residents. In the grand historic stairwells, ornate banisters were meticulously refurbished, revealing the timeless beauty of the original sandstone steps – history is now clearly legible. Meanwhile, the long, straight military-style corridors were repurposed as living spaces, becoming integral parts of the apartments.

New Order

In contrast to the former barracks’ rigid hierarchy, we envisioned a vibrant and multifaceted residential mix for Neuer Garten, ranging from 35-square-meter studios to 140-square-meter family apartments. Working within the existing building grid, we realized both classic floor plans and unconventional spatial concepts featuring open kitchens and expansive living/dining areas. This diverse range of 170 dwellings within the renovated historic structure caters to a dynamic and varied residential community. All rooms are fitted with either continuous parquet flooring or high-quality ceramic tiles. Each unit boasts its own balcony, while some ground-floor units also enjoy direct access to small private gardens. Gone are the days of military drills and uniformity; in their place, Neuer Garten blossoms as a charming green quarter full of life and individuality.

Project team