The Speich property has a special urban position at the juncture between a district of perimeter blocks and heterogeneous development at Wipkingerplatz, the Hardbrücke bridge and the riverside space, which, in urbanistic terms, called for a Janus-like building. The building responds with an expressive and independent guise, particularly through the formation of a head building on Wipkingerplatz, which reoccupies the place. On the street side, sculptural interlocking counteracts the classical tripartite division of base, midsection and top and enhances the expressiveness of the building form. On the river side, terracing of the garden, configuration of the courtyard elements as a building plinth, and planted balconies and roof terraces establish a thoroughly different character, reminiscent of vertical or hanging gardens. The facade’s ceramic cladding – inspired by the ocher-colored bricks typical of the area – contrasts with and dematerializes the bulk and weight of the built form, depending on how the light reflects off it.
Consistent with the flexibility of use required by the program, the building has been systematically liberated from binding ties to the structure. This includes the skeletal frame of reinforced concrete, the lightweight interior partitions, and suspended ceilings in some places that conceal building services installations that are otherwise exposed. Disposed this way, the living quarters explore the spatial potential of the “plan libre.”