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The Cradle

Client: INTERBODEN Gruppe / Location: Düsseldorf / Office space: 6,600 m² / Gastronomy space: 600 m² / Completion: 2023 / Awards: MIPIM/The Architectural Review Future Project Award 2018, ICONIC AWARD: Innovative Architecture 2018, Sonderpreis BIM Heinze ArchitektenAWARD 2020

Services: Architecture

In Düsseldorf’s Media Harbour district, HPP Architekten are designing for the INTERBODEN Group the city’s first office building in timber hybrid construction – a circular pilot project in many respects. With its futuristic sustainability concept and striking architecture, the Cradle-to-Cradle® (C2C) inspired building stands for innovation, openness and a new perception of architecture.

"This is truly new in this way and this novelty must be allowed to try itself out in order to become regular.“

Cornelia Zuschke, head of planning Düsseldorf


for the sustainable city

The Cradle has the goal of becoming a fount of innovation and a trendsetter for future construction projects. One fundamental difference to standard sustainability concepts or certifications is the positivity inherent in the Cradle-to-Cradle® principle: It is about developing positive effects instead of the previous reduction of negative influences. Thus, for The Cradle the aim is to do things better through effectiveness and not just 'less bad' through efficiency.


Holistic approach

The holistic value-adding concept has been central right from the start, so that in all processes the thinking is cyclic and equal consideration is given to economic, ecological and social aspects – along the entire value chain and the entire life cycle.


Integral facade

Identity for the place

The laconic rhombic structure combines facade and supporting structure and was developed out of the conditions of the location (orientation, urban context, light and shade, etc.). Designed parametrically in 3D, the externally positioned supporting structure of the building also fulfils a shading function since the depth of the recesses varies according to orientation. Thus, the materiality, geometry and construction themselves clearly reflect the integral themes: sustainability, sun protection, supporting structure and visual reference to the harbour basin. The recesses created by the supporting structure and facade face the harbour and provide functional loggias.

Timber hybrid construction

Health & ecological footprint

The building is designed as a sustainable timber hybrid in elemental construction – apart from the underground levels, ground floor and core, all the fundamental building elements are made of wood. This renewable raw material stores carbon dioxide during growth, replaces fossil raw materials and improves the CO₂ footprint of the project. The material also offers users a health-promoting and soothing working environment, reduces the build-up of heat and the risk of heat islands forming. 

Circular Economy

Understanding the building as a material depot

In line with the Cradle-to-Cradle® concept, the building is to be seen as a material depot. All the construction materials used have beenselected for their material health, single origin and separability (‘design for deconstruction‘), so that at the end of their life they can be re-used or returned to the materials cycle. Recycling can help significantly reduce waste quantities and contribute to the long-term availability of raw materials. In order to ensure the high circularity of the building during the planning and construction phases, the circular engineering firm EPEA GMBH – Part of Drees & Sommer is supporting its holistic Cradle-to-Cradle® implementation.

All the materials used in The Cradle will be documented in a building material passport via a 3D BIM model. This enables optimal material selection in the planning and provides precise documentation of the available materials for the deconstruction process. The evaluation is made taking account of ecological knock-on effects like health class, CO₂ footprint, deconstructability, separability of materials and recyclability of materials and products. 

"In addition to the cooperation in BIM that has already taken place here, another level has emerged on which BIM and sustainability are brought together."

Jury Special BIM Prize Heinze ArchitektenAWARD 2020


Connecting materials & value

The digital twin illustrates the whole life cycle – from creation through useful life to demolition. The circular building method allows a whole new level of cost effectiveness. After completion, as the first pilot project in Germany The Cradle will be registered on the Madaster platform – a global online register for materials and building products. This will make it possible to monetise C2C, by linking materials and the value of raw materials/property. Linking Madaster to the raw materials exchange will enable buildings to be represented as repositories of valuable raw materials. 

Sharing Economy

Pioneering mobility and utilisation concept

In order to implement the theme of sustainability as consistently as possible, The Cradle will have a fixed mobility hub. This will provide users of the building and nearby residents with services based primarily on e-mobility, with an array of charging stations and car and bike-sharing facilities. Corresponding services and information are communicated via The Cradle App - the neighbourhood app Animus®.  In this way the project managers are already contributing to changing mobility patterns. As one of the tenants, the co-working service provider SPACES will provide flexible office solutions for a wide range of users and opens The Cradle – besides its gastronomy areas on the ground floor – for the entire neighbourhood. 



Cradle-to-Cradle® measures

Inspired by the Cradle-to-Cradle® principle, realisation of The Cradle will be based not only on recyclable materials, but also on an overall circular approach. Alongside the classic planning process, an integral cooperation between all disciplines will question the tried and tested solutions, investigate new avenues and develop innovative approaches. A measures matrix developed for this purpose will serve as a tool to depict all the measures of the Cradle-to-Cradle® principles, categorise them and track the relevant process:

  • Construction & material cycles: Design for disassembly, separability, modular construction, plug & screw instead of gluing
  • Material & product quality: Toxin-free, sorted, recyclable (Re-Use), recyclability into the material cycle, Cradle-to-Cradle® certified or comparably sustainable products
  • Life cycle: Documentation & location of materials in the Building Material Passport, registration on the Madaster platform
  • Sustainable utilisation concept: Modular interior fittings , flexible extension grid, system partition walls, visible installations, floor lamps etc.
  • Improving indoor climate & wellbeing: Timber construction, green walls, clay walls, fine dust absorbing floor coverings, fine dust activated carbon filter, CO₂ monitoring / CO₂ detectors
  • Materials: Use of materials that are healthy and free of harmful substances (e.g. low-VOC, toxin-free), avoidance of ingredients on the 'Banned List of Chemicals' (e.g. avoidance of carpet adhesives, PVC)
  • Improvement of urban climate & air quality: Promotion of electric mobility, timber hybrid construction, green roof, rainwater storage & controlled release
  • Sharing concepts & e-mobility: co-working & multimodal transport offers with e-car and e-bike sharing
  • Public: Access to the building through the integration of public uses: Mobility hub, Gastronomy, Co-working spaces
  • Renewable energies: Photovoltaic system on the roof provides electricity for e-charging stations, use of district heating, lighting control systems with motion sensors
  • Water management: Retention roof for local water storage, sustainable irrigation of green roofs and extended heat protection through the use of evaporative cooling, greywater utilisation - treatment of slightly polluted wastewater for toilet flushing, water-saving sanitary elements
  • Biodiversity: Green roof, nesting boxes & insect hotel on the roof
  • Timber hybrid construction: Wood as a natural CO₂ storage
  • Efficient operations & adaptability to future utilisation requirements
  • Building Material Building Passport: Linking of all materials & products via the 3D BIM model to the Building Material Passport & evaluation concerning: CO₂ footprint, health class, dismantlability, separability, recyclability, residual value
  • Madaster & raw material residual value: Registration on the Madaster platform with connection to commodity exchange, mapping as valuable raw material depot, C2C monetisation

Quality standards

Based on the in the project the mindset of "Rethinking" and "Circular Thinking" has been the basis for all new projects since then.

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