Slender concrete featherweights
Jan 12, 2016

The forever growing campus at Vilnius University already boasts 12 faculties. The latest additional is the “Life Science Building”, whose façade has been clad with malleable molded parts made of fiber-reinforced concrete. These were designed by Gintaras Čaikauskas, an architect at Linija, a local studio, and produced by Rieder. The new research building consists of two cubes of different heights and houses the labs, lecture theaters and a generously proportioned auditorium for conferences. For the glazed façade the architect came up with a shading system that is as delicate as it is elegant. It is made of “fibreC 3D” molded parts which protect the rooms – particularly the labs – from exposure to direct sunlight.

These vertical columns in pale silver gray give the façade a refined structure: “With its robust design the building epitomize the matter-of-fact, straightforward scientific attitude,” explains Čaikauskas, talking about his design. To lend this practical edifice a plastic aspect the architect opted for three-dimensional, tapering fiber-reinforced concrete elements of varying lengths and thicknesses. Čaikauskas interspersed square, flat elements in anthracite and reddish brown between the silvery gray molded parts to break up the rigidly vertical lines. Rieder’s molded parts also impressed the architect in functional terms – with walls only 13 millimeters in thickness they really are featherweights.

With the assistance of two hidden anchors, it was possible to position the relevant elements rapidly and without difficulties – a particularly cost-efficient solution provided by the Austrian company as part of its competent advice: “At our first meeting with Rieder we talked exclusively about the concept for the building’s cladding. At the next meeting the manufacturer had already produced the first façade elements for inspection. We got on from the outset which meant that our collaboration was constructive throughout the entire project,” comments Čaikauskas in summary. (sb)

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A grid for science: Vertical concrete elements by Rieder structure the façade of the “Life Sciences Building” at the University of Vilnius.
Photo © Rasmus Norlander for Rieder

Architect Gintaras Čaikauskas designed a visually extremely varied shading system using “fibreC 3D” molded parts by Rieder: they protect the rooms on the inside from exposure to direct sunlight. Photo © Rasmus Norlander for Rieder

Different length and thicknesses infuse the façade pattern with variety. Rieder sells the “fibreC 3D” molded parts in numerous colors and with many different shapes – U-shaped, V-shaped or L-shaped and up to 3.6 meters in length.
Photo © Rasmus Norlander for Rieder

The rigidly geometric structure is broken up by flat, square elements in rust color and anthracite. Rieder’s material turned out to be an extremely practical solution for the architect – and a better alternative than steel. Photo © Rasmus Norlander for Rieder

Cost-efficient and easy on materials: The fiber-reinforced concrete elements with walls that are only 13 millimeters thick form a cavity. This makes them unusually light and they can be attached to the façade using two hidden anchors.
Photos © Rasmus Norlander for Rieder

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