Tower Building C10 - Hochschule Darmstadt - Germany
Until recently, the facades ran uniformly around the building. Now they react to the compass directions they face. The facades enhance the industrial logic of the original ones. The sculptural “eyelids” facing south are half-closed.
The classroom and research building C10 was built in 1965 as the tallest structure in Darmstadt. Today it houses the university’s head office and the departments of mathematics and natural sciences.
Originally covered in uniform, gray stone slabs, the building is visible from afar, towering above its surroundings as an important campus landmark. In 2007 Staab Architekten were commissioned to carry out renovations on the building, which primarily were needed due to fire safety regulations. Over the years the existing façade had become dirty and its marble slabs were detaching from the moorings.
The architects proposed to gut the fifteen-story building, increase its volume by some four meters for the required separate fire elevator, and create a different façade for each of the building’s four sides. Especially the sculptural south façade seems both strange and familiar, developed out of the original building’s strict grid.
Through its modular, serial structure and its industrial, technical look, it seem to reflect the spirit of the postwar era while spatially expanding the repertoire of the other existing, more two-dimensional façade elements.
The old façade offered minimal sunshade. Together with environmental engineers from the company Transsolar, the architects designed aluminium panels, which, like shimmering silver eyelids, offer both effective sun protection and a distinctive design.
Behind the variously folded panels hides a complex air circulation mechanism. The modular aluminum frame is mirrored on the narrow east and west sides of the buildings. For the north side that faces the city, the architects developed a large glass façade with longitudinal fins that shade from the sun falling from the east and west.
The redesign is also reflected in the restructuring of the ground floor, which was partially restored to its original condition. A mezzanine floor, which at some point had been added, was removed to regain at least part of the space’s original two-story ceiling height. The architects also make reference to the original building through a little recycling: marble slabs from its façade were re-used in alcoves facing the classrooms.