The former Thyssen High-Rise, which is now always known as the Dreischeibenhaus or Three-Slab House, was regarded when it was completed in 1960 as the architectural embodiment of West Germany’s economic miracle. Because of its striking form, it has been one of Düsseldorf’s landmarks ever since. Its design dates back to 1955, by the architects Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg, whose office, HPP, still exists today. With their high-rise on Gustav-Gründgens-Platz (where the Düsseldorf Theater by Bernhard Pfau was built in 1965–69), they created an icon of postwar architecture and had a crucial influence on the high-rise architecture of the 1960s and 1970s.
The client for the administration building was Phönix-Rheinrohr AG, which was taken over by the Thyssen corporation in 1964, which then lent its name to the building. The high-rise is composed of three slender slabs in a staggered arrangement. The central one is ninety-four meters high, and hence the tallest of the three. The slabs intersect at the building core, which houses elevators, stairwells, and toilet facilities.
Thanks to this intelligent arrangement, the architects avoided long, dark corridors and created an open landscape of offices. They can be flexibly partitioned as needed into open-plan or individual offices as well as meeting rooms and halls—a visionary approach at the time.
The building is constructed as a steel skeleton—the client provided the steel tubes itself—and features a curtain façade of aluminum and glass. The latter ends above the edge of the lawn, so that it seems to float, emphasizing that it is non-load-bearing. The slender front ends of the three slabs are clad with stainless steel. The glazed access areas between them are indented, so that each slab, visually separated, is perceived as a single volume. The high-rise has been listed as a historical landmark since 1988. After it was taken over by an investment firm in 2011, it was sensitively renovated by the firm HPP, now in its fourth generation. Despite a comprehensive, energetic renovation process, the architects managed to preserve the building’s characteristic expression. Today, the Three-Slab House serves as an office building. [KS/HY]
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