Dortmund U-Tower - Center for Art and Creativity | Germany

Customer: Stadt Dortmund

Design competition: Gerber Architekten and Gernot Schulz, 2006 - 2nd place

Architect: Gerber Architekten, Dortmund

Net costs, building services €: 9.200.000,00

Project period: 2008 until 2011

Services: Planning and monitoring, Sanitary systems, Sprinkler systems, Heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems, Cooling ceilings, Electrical and telecommunication systems, Conveyance systems, Building automation systems, Fire-extinguishing systems

The Dortmund U-Tower (Dortmunder U) was once part of a building complex belonging to the Dortmund Union brewery. After the brewery moved out, all parts of the complex were demolished except a tower that is crowned with a distinctive "U" and is now listed as a historic monument. That building has undergone extensive conversion and now houses extensive museum space. The concept for the property's revitalization covered both those sections on which the historic building is located and former production areas, located in the southwestern section of the property.

ZWP prepared an energy study for the property, and for the new buildings to be built next to the U-Tower (with floor space totaling some 90,000 m²), with a focus on optimal energy efficiency and environmentally friendly energy supply systems. The study found that the necessary connections for the property would have to meet heating requirements amounting to about 4.25 MW, cooling requirements of about 2.5 MW and power requirements of about 2.9 MW.

The upper section of the building's outer shell, and the box-like crown below the "U"s facing all four sides, were fitted with vertical LED panels that show moving film clips, thus functioning as a media "skin" on all four sides.

The conversion opened up large vertical wall spaces (50 x 40 m) and shaped a generous ground-floor foyer area. Those spaces are now used for beamer projections that create additional special effects. To provide for such use, it was necessary to limit daylight illumination of the projection spaces to no more than 15 lux. To meet that requirement in an ideal way, ZWP carried out a daylight simulation that made it possible to optimize those areas' artificial and daylight illumination and that facilitated selection of optimal materials. 

Within the U-Tower, an intruder alarm with VdS class C certification controls access to the Ostwall Museum. Along with motion sensors sited throughout the museum areas, the system includes capacitive alarm systems, protecting the museum's exhibits, and installed throughout all display partitions. Furthermore, window alarms, guarding access from the building's outer walls, and the building's inner facade were vertically integrated within the overall access-protection system.

Museum-exhibit storage areas, referred to as "depots", were provided on the basement level.

The ground floor includes a 179-seat movie theater that is used for a variety of cultural events, as well as for conferences (it is fully equipped with audiovisual systems and an interpreter's booth). Ventilation systems are integrated within the theater's sloped seating area.

The area that includes the ground-floor café and the atrium restaurant are fitted with state-of-the-art sound and light-show systems (with light and video beamers).

Images: © Solveig Böhl (ZWP Ingenieur-AG)

Worth knowing

Further projects with Gerber Architekten:
Competition Library Saarland
Competition Areal West
Justus Liebig University Gießen

Further ZWP services on Dortmunder U:
Administration building

Link to website:
Dortmunder U