Due to the special location, architectural practice Koller Heitmann Schütz (khs) paid particular attention to the façade, which serves as the first glimpse of the Forum AutoVision and a welcoming gateway to the city of Wolfsburg.
They deliberately chose a mullion/transom construction using the Schüco FWS 50.SI façade system. Its narrow face widths perfectly matched the desire for maximum transparency and to have the building envelope as an identity-forming element.
The history of the city of Wolfsburg is closely tied to the development of the Volkswagen Group (VW). As one of the few cities that was designed in the middle of the 20th century as a deliberate reestablishment, the shape of the town quickly developed from a dormitory town for workers into a prosperous hub with over 120,000 residents.
The crisis that hit the mono-structural automobile industry in the mid-90s compelled officials in the city to conduct an unusual experiment. The “AutoVision” concept was devised in order to strengthen the competitiveness and thereby the quality of life in Wolfsburg.
To implement this, the Volkswagen Group and the city of Wolfsburg in equal parts established Wolfsburg AG, which since 1999 has been a public-private partnership in the areas of employment and structural funding and is a developer, client and operator of key elements of the city.
InnovationsCampus as a component of urban development
The company’s headquarters is the Forum AutoVision at the entrance to the city of Wolfsburg. At the heart of the building complex is the InnovationsCampus, a technology and new business centre where around 600 start-up companies have been looked after and where service providers and start-ups with 2000 employees have settled.
Covering an area of 45,000 m2, the now eight buildings, car park and research centre are grouped around a central “arena” which houses restaurants, conference rooms and event spaces.
Architectural practice khs Architekten has been involved in various construction phases of the structural development of the Forum AutoVision since 1999. The increasing demand for attractive rentable spaces led to the practice being commissioned to design the ICW 8 building.
What made this project special was that the user was selected before the planning stage. From the open-plan offices with desk sharing to the traditional office cubicles, all workplace concepts are included in this newbuild.
However, in order to be able to respond to the spatial requirements of future users at a reasonable expense, the client expressed the need for increased flexibility which allows the room planning grid to be changed easily with comprehensive utilities supplied in a hollow floor.
The building is connected to the campus by means of a glass bridge on the first floor, next to the raised entrance area. In addition to the obligatory sound reduction, construction time and cost requirements, the small construction site that was difficult to access was one of the biggest challenges.
The face of the city
The heterogeneous façade design of the InnovationsCampus deliberately reflects the innovative thinking of the company. The new ICW 8 building is the same shape as the existing buildings; it is only the side façade development that shows the contemporary evolution of the new building block in the growing district.
The lively interplay of large, floor-to-ceiling glazing, narrow ventilation flaps and closed units characterise the ICW 8 façade. The aspect of the workspaces facing the outside and surrounding area plays a huge role in this. khs Architekten believes that façades, behind which there are people, require special attention.
Bringing daylight into the depths of the rooms is something that can be achieved by the floor-to-ceiling glazing. At the same time, thanks to the narrow design of the mullions and transoms, the room appears wider and the outside becomes part of the sense of space.
And, last but not least, the interplay of the different versions as a process of varying influencing factors to find the neatest possible design and structure resulted in the overarching grid of open and closed units that now forms the welcoming face of the city.
The building components were largely prefabricated to ensure a fast construction time. The skeleton structure made from a steel/reinforced concrete composite system was connected to intermediate floors made from reinforced concrete floorboards. The indoor climate is stabilised by means of integrated concrete core activation in the ceilings. External sun shading and individually operated glare protection on the inside also regulate the temperature of the rooms.
In line with the wish for a multi-storey aluminium/glass construction, the architects and the client both opted for the highly thermally insulated, self-supporting Schüco FWS 50.SI façade system with an internal and external face width of 50 mm.
Combined with the highly thermally insulated Schüco AWS 75.SI+ aluminium window system, it was possible to find the perfect solution to the desire for maximum transparency and the combination of thermal insulation and sound reduction.
Moreover, the flexibility of the system allows the integration of closed façade units in the non-ventilated façade. Likewise, it was possible to integrate a special construction to meet fire protection standards in the mullion/transom façade.
The architects also used Schüco solutions in the interior. All of the fire doors are Schüco ADS 80 FR 30 doors from the T30 door system with an 80 mm basic depth or Schüco ADS 65.NI SP doors from the non-insulated, smoke-proof aluminium door system with a 65 mm basic depth and glazing mounted on one side of the rebate.
Project title: Forum AutoVision of Wolfsburg AG, ICW 8 building, Wolfsburg
Architect: khs Architekten (Koller Heitmann Schütz)
Schüco partner companies:
External building envelope: Metallbau Möller GmbH & Co.KG, Erfurt
Internal units, fire protection: Cornils GmbH, Bergen
Surface area: Approx. 3900 m2
Schüco systems in the project:
Schüco FWS 50.SI,
highly thermally insulated, self-supporting aluminium façade system as a mullion/transom construction for multi-storey façades with an internal and external face width of 50 mm. As a passive house-certified SI system, the façade ensures optimum thermal insulation values.
Schüco AOC 50 ST.SI,
highly thermally insulated aluminium add-on construction on a steel load-bearing structure (gasket system), as a mullion/transom construction for multi-storey façades with a 50 mm external face width.
Schüco AWS 75.SI+,
highly thermally insulated aluminium window system.
Schüco AWS 75.SI+,
highly thermally insulated aluminium window system with a Schüco AWS VV ventilation vent.
Schüco AWS 75 BS.SI+,
highly thermally insulated aluminium block system with 75 mm basic depth.
Schüco ADS 75 HD.HI,
highly thermally insulated aluminium door system.
Schüco ADS 65.NI SP,
smoke protection series, non-insulated, smoke-proof aluminium door system, in accordance with EN 1634-3 / DIN 18095 with a 65 mm basic depth and glazing mounted on one side of the rebate.
Schüco ADS 80 FR 30,
fire protection series, T30 door system with 80 mm basic depth.
Increased requirement for external sound reduction and flanking sound transmission.
Schüco AvanTec SimplySmart.
Mechatronic bottom-hung fittings:
Schüco TipTronic system, profile-integrated, mechatronic bottom-hung fitting with external operation,
for vent loads up to 100 kg, opening width in tilt position as ventilation vent: 400 mm.
Schüco TipTronic, NSHEVS systems in accordance with EN 12101-2
Opening width as NSHEVS vent in the tilt position: 400 or 600 mm opening width.
Interview, Forum AutoVision of Wolfsburg AG
“Architecture can encourage innovation”
Wenzel Steinhage, head of property management and procurement at Wolfsburg AG, and Jürgen Schütz, partner at architectural practice Koller Heitmann Schütz, on the development of the façade for the new InnovationsCampus 8 (ICW 8) building at the Forum AutoVision of Wolfsburg AG. Since Wolfsburg AG was founded in 1999 as a public-private partnership with the city of Wolfsburg and Volkswagen AG, the InnovationsCampus, covering an area of approximately 45,000 m2, has been continuously developed.
How did the project come about and what role does the newbuild play on the existing site?
Wenzel Steinhage: Owing to the demand from current tenants at the Forum AutoVision of Wolfsburg AG, the decision was made to make the ICW 8 newbuild purely an office building. With its urban location at the end point of the campus, it also forms the gateway to the city.
What are the fundamental ideas behind the design?
Jürgen Schütz: The shape of the building structure is the result of the confrontation with the surrounding area. In addition, we made it our mission to rethink the concept of an office building in a contemporary way. The workspaces face the outside and surrounding area, which is really important to us, as is getting daylight into the depths of the rooms. This is achieved by the floor-to-ceiling façade glazing. At the same time, the room appears wider, the façade is not a rigid border and appears to be more lightweight, while the outside becomes part of the sense of space. The indoor climate is stabilised by means of concrete core activation in the ceilings. It provides heating in the winter and cools during the summer. There is of course external sun shading and individually operated glare protection too.
What challenges were you met with?
Jürgen Schütz: In this project we had to negotiate a small construction site that was difficult to access and needed to be fully utilised. In addition, the tenants using the adjacent building needed to have access during the construction phase. It was also important to connect and integrate the building with its structural surroundings. The response to this is a logical further development of the progression of the existing transom, a system that functions well and is standard for office use, but is interpreted in a contemporary way.
Wenzel Steinhage: For us as the client, the biggest challenge was the design of the façade. Our buildings on this plot all have different façades which reflect the innovative force and diversity of our company. And as this building marks the provisional “end” of the plot in the east, it had to have a special façade.
You are calling the building the gateway to / face of the city. How does the building fit into the evolving context?
Jürgen Schütz: When we came up with the concept, it was clear to us that we could use the façade to make a concise outward statement and that the newbuild would become a showpiece for the Forum AutoVision. Something special had to be created here, the proverbial “gateway to Wolfsburg”. Using various prototypes that were tested in terms of design, structure and cost efficiency, a mullion/transom construction was selected in the end in close collaboration with the client. Not only was the façade the face of the business, the use played a key role in our decision too. In our eyes, building envelopes, behind which there are people at close quarters, need to be transparent. It is extremely important to draw the daylight into the middle zones through the floor-to-ceiling glazing on both sides. With a building width of 17 metres, the depth of the individual offices is approximately 7.50 metres, while the large open-plan offices are even deeper. It was also possible to meet the need for flexibility in the room layout.
You opted for a Schüco product – why?
Wenzel Steinhage: We deliberately chose Schüco because the extremely narrow face widths of the profiles perfectly meet the desire for transparency and incorporation of the outside space in conjunction with the design.
Jürgen Schütz: The wide product range at Schüco as well as the well-designed programming behind the systems allows a wide variety of design ideas to be incorporated without watering down the overall concept. We had particular sound reduction and heat gain requirements, which we met by using thermal insulation glass, an automatically controlled external blind system for the sun shading on the outside and individually controlled glare protection on the inside. In this case, the greater requirement was in the façade technology, such as the integrated hinges for the sun shading system and fixing the boards to the underlying continuous Schüco FWS 50.SI mullion/transom construction and the Schüco AOC 50 ST.SI as a non-ventilated façade. Bulkhead firewalls that were not part of the system had to be installed here. However, we managed to overcome this challenge with special constructions that meet the fire protection standards and can be fully concealed in the façade system. It was technically challenging to implement the visions of the design in the construction.
How would you describe the collaboration between Schüco and those involved in the planning?
Jürgen Schütz: When you design technically sophisticated façades, good consultation is important for all planning partners. We were in good hands with Schüco in this regard.
Wenzel Steinhage: Across the site there are buildings in which Schüco products have been installed. As an innovative systems provider, Schüco is an important partner for us in helping to make our design visions technically possible.
What did you enjoy the most with the ICW 8 newbuild?
Wenzel Steinhage: In my role as head of property management, I carry on ideas that were conceived by others. The discussions with the architects and the users with regard to the new workplace concepts and the resulting challenges and opportunities were particularly inspiring. And when everyone is speaking the same architectural language, then everything is perfect!
Jürgen Schütz: I particularly enjoyed creating the façade in this building. After all, it is only when the shell of the building is complete that it starts to come to life. That is the best moment, when visions on paper become reality...
Picture credits: Schüco International KG
Photographer: Frank Peterschröder