When Dusseldorf decided to modernize its harbor, the city invited famous architects that are given an empty canvas for them to create. One of this architects was Frank O. Gehry and what he designed for the city became Neuer Zollhof aka the Gehry Buildings and one of the main sights of this german city by the Rhine river.
Düsseldorf-Hafen, known in english as the Dusseldorf Harbor, is a district of Dusseldorf where the harbor of the city is located. For a long time, this part of the city used to be an area of workers, industry and a lot of trade but it all started going downhill when Mannesmann stopped producing tubes in the city. Since there is another harbor close by, there was no reason to have a harbor in the middle of the city. This is the reason why the area started being redeveloped until it became what it is today.
Even though the area was modernized, it still carries the feeling of a harbor and this was one of my favorite things about the area. When I first stepped in the harbor, I was expecting something different. I thought it would look like a gentrified area or something completely fake. But it looks more like an architectural masterpiece than anything else.
This was the reason why I wanted to visit this part of Dusseldorf. I love architecture and I remember seeing pictures from the Gehry Buildings when I was a teenager and I loved everything about them.
The Gehry Buildings of Dusseldorf Harbor
The official name for the buildings is Der Neue Zollhof and they were completed back in 1998. There are three different buildings that look similar but that have different external materials. The tallest building has 14 stories high and I was surprised when I read about it because the building must be less than 50 meters high!
According to our guide, all the buildings in the Dusseldorf Harbor have something related to ships, boats or some harbor like activity. The Gehry Buildings follow that as well and they are supposed to look the moving sails of a ship.
These buildings spiral and stretch into the sky in an iconic style. They mirrored each other and reflect the sunny days in Dusseldorf. The Gehry Buildings of Dusseldorf Harbor don’t have the same utility as the shipyards of other times but their beautiful facades illustrate exactly what the new harbor means for a city like Dusseldorf.
Besides Frank O. Gehry, other architects left their mark in the area. David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi have buildings there but, when I visited the neighborhood, my eyes were focused on the Gehry Buildings. You have to forgive me for that.
Fotostrasse had the pleasure of visiting the Düsseldorf-Hafen during a cloudy day in July 2016 with the amazing people from Visit Dusseldorf.