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Architecture, Colour, Sustainability

Sauerbruch Hutton

Architecture, Colour, Sustainability
By Jurgen Tietz -

Central to the architectural programmes of Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton is the whole issue of building sustainability. It was the case with their Berlin GSW headquarters (1999), the Federal Environmental Agency in Dessau (2005) and now with their latest project, the West Arcade building of Frankfurt’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). The brief for the Anglo-German couple from Berlin was to complete the heterogeneous headquarters of this public bank with a single new building. The expressive new construction, embellished with colours in Sauerbruch Hutton style, is Frankfurt’s new urban landmark next to the famous Palm Garden.
The West Arcade is a high-rise with a difference. The brief demanded that energy consumption for the whole complex would not exceed 100KWh/sqm/y. This could only be achieved by adopting special design features allowing real energy-saving measures. The architects’ answer was the “pressurized-ring-façade” developed by them in close collaboration with Stuttgart-based Transsolar.
While the base of the building containing a multipurpose series of volumes has a conventional double-skin façade, the bulk of the elevation has been given a double, “active” frontage. Building orientation was established on the basis of Frankfurt’s prevailing winds. Advantage was taken of the very wide site to set the building at an angle to the very busy thoroughfare, Zeppelinallee. Its arresting shape makes it a point of mediation in this heterogenous architectural context.
The “pressurized-ring façade” is based on a series of operable vents on the outer skin that allow a regular flow of external air into the airspace between the two layers. The system also shelters the building from the strong winds that high-rise buildings usually have to withstand.
Vent position can be changed every 15 minutes, in steps of 15 degrees and up to a maximum inclination of 90 degrees. The automated vent-opening system operates in connection with weather...

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