Made of both metal and glass
von | Mar 30, 2014

For the new Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) headquarters in Bern the architects at Lussi+Halter designed two buildings that essentially take up the block and have decidedly cubic volumes. From an urban planning viewpoint this is quite a strong solution, considering the difficulty of the terrain between the railway tracks and the interstate. However, the buildings’ massive nature is mitigated by multiple-layer glass façades with a complex lamellar structure.

The movable solar shading installation by Colt added a striking design feature to the complex. The louvers extending in front of the elongated structure and the block with two large atriums were color-coordinated to form a pattern of horizontal rectangles, not unlike stacked containers. Depending on the angle of the sun and use of the rooms the façade takes on a different aesthetic, making for an intriguing, perpetually changing look-and-feel. To make the glass louvers withstand potential hailstorms (the Alps are within hailing distance), special precision fabric was coated in different colors and laminated into the safety glass. “SEFAR Architecture Vision” is the name of the material, which is composed of yarns of just 140 and 260 micrometers in thickness, and used here with different types of fabric and coatings. The material suits a wide range of applications and can be incorporated into insulating glass, plastic and Perspex, or used as a textile surface. For SBB Colt produced louvers in five different shades: Gold, Pearl, Aluminum, Chrome and Copper. The integrated colored fabric creates a fascinating effect – the façade gives the impression that it’s made of both metal and glass, infusing the building with a pleasant lightness while keeping the interior cool on sunny days.

The louvers are perfectly parallel – an unusual sight as users are free to adjust them to suit personal preferences. Photo © Colt
The solar protection system by Colt comes in five different colors: Gold, Pearl, Aluminum, Chrome and Copper. Photo © Colt
Each color of the Colt louver façade was mounted at a slightly different angle. Photo © Colt
Seen from the inside, the Colt solar shading is astonishingly transparent. Photo: © Lorenz Held
The different colors and the mutable angles of the louvers results in a changing façade pattern. Photo: © Lorenz Held
Special fabrics weaved into the safety glass create a metallic effect – shown here are glass louvers by Colt. Photo © Colt
Mirrored breast bands accentuate the buildings’ horizontal qualities, reflecting sunlight in all the different shades. Photo © Colt
The region is prone to hailstorms, which is why the Colt façade was reinforced with special SEFAR fabric. Photo © Colt
The Colt solar shading system relies on a mechanism that is completely concealed. Photo: © Lorenz Held
The louvers, reinforced with a special SEFAR mesh, are only colored on the outside. Photo: © Lorenz Held