Vitreous Innovation Centre
Double folded, band-like building structure / Prefabricated façade elements reduce building time / Excellent climate protection due to high-quality glazing
Innovative in form and function: Architect Gunter Henn calls his newly designed “MobileLifeCampus” a new type of communication architecture. With its transparency and its dynamic band-like structure, the building, which was built on the western outskirts of Wolfsburg and inaugurated in May 2006, underlines its use as a networking innovation centre and platform for cooperation between partners from science, research and industry – particularly for its builder, Wolfsburg AG. At the same time, the structure documents the enormous capabilities of modern glazing. High-quality ipasol solar control glazing (Interpane) combines thermal and overheating protection without any major decrease in transparency. This results in a high yield of natural daylight and an optimized climate in the building.
Photo: H. G. Esch, Hennef - Stadt Blankenberg
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The builder of MobileLifeCampus, Wolfsburg AG, is a joint venture of Volkswagen AG and the city of Wolfsburg. The contract for the design was awarded to Gunter Henn. In recent years, the renowned architect has played a major role in the planning of the “Autostadt” and other Volkswagen projects. He is also known for his analytical design methodology, which from the very beginning includes structural implementation. This was of utmost importance, given the complex demands on the usage of the building. Step by step, this methodical approach led from an abstract structural model with criss-crossing wings to this idiosyncratic building structure.
Open and closed façade surfaces
The building complex (25,000 square metres) resembles a double folded band, which changes direction diagonally. At short distances – sometimes deliberately overlapping – it joins the rooms and courtyards created by the layout of the building. The floor levels are integrated into the “folds”. The unusual building structure is also reflected in the façade. It combines an interplay of closed, parallelogram-form exposed concrete surfaces and glass facades that “open up” the building.
In the centre is an atrium covered by a quadrangular glass roof. Vertically, the levels are connected by five staircases and two elevators. The upper levels are also connected via galleries and ramps located around the atrium. Open stairways allow direct contact and communication. The seminar rooms are arranged freely around the atrium and extend into it at different levels.
Prefabricated façade elements
For economic and design reasons, the planning included a large number of façade elements. These were manufactured (including the glazing) in the factory, independent of the weather.
A high level of accuracy was required for the installation of the glass elements for the atrium roof (1274 x 2575 mm). The glazing was placed in the glass load frame and fixed with vertical bars, the point fittings were horizontally sealed. On site, the individual elements were mounted onto a secondary supporting structure made of beam-and-column elements (140 x 70 mm) which was built onto the five trussed steel girders of the roof structure (primary supporting structure). The columns are made of welded steel profiles (400 x 600 mm) with shadow gap. The attached hollow beam profiles (80 x 60 x 4 mm) are bolted to the columns.
Climate protection by means of solar control glass
Cost efficient building must not result in higher operating costs – heating and cooling of rooms must be taken into consideration during the planning phase. One major issue: the physical capabilities of the glazing. The solar control glazing ipasol neutral 50/25 by Interpane (Lauenförde, Germany) used for the atrium roof combines high transparency and thermal insulation (Ug-value = 1.1 W/m²K as per EN 673) with a low solar energy transmittance (g-value) of only 27% as per EN 410. At the same time, at 50%, the light transmittance is relatively high and on the borderline of physical feasibility. In conjunction with the internal solar protection, overheating of the atrium, even in midsummer, is practically impossible.
The major requirement for the element facades was high transparency, i.e. good light transmittance. The glazing of choice was therefore the solar control glass ipasol neutral 68/34. It combines a low solar factor (g-value 35% as per EN 410) with a very high light transmittance (67% as per EN 410).
In areas with relatively low insolation, such as the beam-and-column façade, where thermal insulation in winter is important, the Interpane low emissivity glazing iplus was ideally suited to the requirements. Safety and soundproofing requirements, for example for the seminar rooms, were taken into consideration by using laminated safety glass for the low emissivity glazing.
Integrated into the landscape
The building finished in March 2006 has a length of approx. 165 metres and a width of approx. 54 metres. With its five stories it reaches a height of 21 metres. Since its inauguration, the building complex has housed the AutoUni (automotive university) and is available to Volkswagen for other purposes as well.
In spite of its unusual architecture, the MobileLifeCampus fits well into the park-like setting with 500 apple and cherry trees.
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|Good views inside and out: For the design of the façade elements (ipasol neutral 68/34) of the MobileLifeCampus, the architects put an emphasis on high transparency. The energetic properties of the glazing provide for a lot of natural daylight inside the building but also prevent overheating.
Photo: Volkswagen AG