A dynamic façade for a historical campus

For the new datacenter at the University of Osnabrück, TTSP-HWP Architekten opted for a concrete outer skin made of glassfiber-reinforced concrete panels from Rieder. The result scores points not only for its look, but also in terms of sustainability.
by Anna Moldenhauer and Fabian Peters | 7/17/2020

At one time tanks were parked on the campus of the University of Osnabrück and soldiers from the British Army of the Rhine stood to attention there – all rather hard to imagine when you look at the extensive site today. After the troops were redeployed, the site was dedicated entirely to knowledge and the education of over 12,000 students. Even the architecture points the way to the future: For the new datacenter, Frankfurt’s TTSP-HWP Architekten have designed a building with a concrete façade that sets its own tone in the fabric of the site. For this, they used glassfiber-reinforced concrete panels from Rieder in the colors “polar white” and “silvergrey”. And for good reason – despite measuring just 13 mm thick, these elements withstand extreme loads and yet come in enormous panel sizes. The product from Rieder is also reliable in changeable weather conditions and requires only minimal maintenance. Since Rieder offers a number of formats, colors and textures, the architects were able to choose from different options for their project. The various versions help to bring out the naturalness of concrete as a material and emphasize its authentic appearance, which provides for an interesting visual contrast with the linear architecture of the new datacenter.

“The core idea behind our design was to carefully separate the different areas of the building while combining all its functions harmoniously in one block,” explains Klaus Günther-Trautner, Project Manager at TTSP-HWP. Hence, the public spaces in the building, like the PC pool for students and the lecture halls on the ground floor, are aligned around an internal courtyard. Leading up to the entrance is a large flight of steps, which compensates for the incline of the site while also creating an eye-catching element in the ensemble. The building’s central computing technology, meanwhile, is to remain entirely invisible.

The architects have sub-divided the façade by means of stringent vertical lines – a counterweight to the width of the main body of the building. High rectangular windows alternate with offset lengths of large-format glassfiber-reinforced concrete elements. Concrete skin from Rieder scored points for the quality of the surface, which would have been costly and difficult to achieve with fair-faced concrete, while its straightforward processing and sustainability credentials helped to ensure it was the architects’ ultimate choice. Glassfiber-reinforced concrete is a natural material that is non-flammable and free of crystalline silicon dioxide. What is more, Rieder itself sets high standards in terms of environmental protection – even its production processes use minimal energy from fossil fuels, so the company is making an active contribution to the energy transition. “We would use this material again anytime,” says Klaus Günter-Trautner. Such arguments were also quickly able to convince the commissioning client, the State Construction Management of Osnabrück-Emsland, to approve the material’s selection. The result is a building with clean lines whose dynamic façade brings a breath of fresh air to the historical site that is the University of Osnabrück campus.

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