The department store for the retail chain Peek & Cloppenburg is designed to respond to Mannheim’s historic city grid and to provide a state-of-the-art landmark within the cityscape. It is prominently located on one of the city’s main thoroughfares, between Stephanienstraße and Kufürstenstraße on the Boulevard Planken. Two blocks to the north and west lies the highly formalized urban fabric of Paradeplatz, located at the intersection of Kurpfalzstraße and Boulevard Planken (which are in effect the primary north-south and east-west axes of the Baroque city). The building’s curved front façade cantilevers subtly into the space of the pedestrian zone, strengthening the presence of Peek & Cloppenburg along this major pedestrian and shopping axis.
The building’s exterior is marked by the juxtaposition of two principal elements: a light, transparent curtain wall along the retail areas and a group of massive core towers clad in Roman travertine housing vertical circulation and mechanical supply. A three-story glass enclosure cantilevers from the building’s main volume and seemingly floats above Boulevard Planken. Bands of translucent glass brise-soleil line the top floor, creating an airy roof structure.
The building interacts with its urban environment through a series of subtle volumetric modifications. In consideration of the height of adjacent buildings, the penthouse is stepped back. The highly transparent features of the building reinforce the public space, the flow of which extends the public realm into the semi-public. This extension culminates within a cantilevered screen reflecting the activities of the sidewalk and the marketplace within. The space includes five retail floors and an administrative penthouse. A cylindrical skylight features a gnomon element to create a shadow in the manner of a sundial for a continuous light display.