Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
The Forum at Eckenberg Gymnasium in Adelsheim, Germany by Ecker Architekten
July 4th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Ecker Architekten
Ecker Architekten are pleased to announce the completion of the Forum at the Eckenberg Gymnasium in Adelsheim, a project of the Baden-Württemberg Department of Property and Construction – Heilbronn Office. Construction began in late 2011.
The extensive campus of the Eckenberg Academy is located on a scenic hillside overlooking the town of Adelsheim. The entire campus consists of 11 individual buildings from the 1960s and 70s. The solitary two and three-story buildings line the slope in a regular fashion; but this regularity lacks a visible hierarchy, and no perceivable campus center is evident. A deficiency of flexible, unallocated indoor space meant that the student body had insufficient opportunities for social gathering, and extra-curricular activities offered by the academy were extremely limited.
The new Forum addressed these concerns through the establishment of a central campus hub. The new building joins two existing structures on six different levels. It contains an auditorium, a library, various multi-function rooms, a student lounge, and a café. The building stands as a single volume, articulated through the integration of various points of entry at multiple levels; with spaces at the ground level defined by transparent partitions.
The 1,000-square-meter facility consists of three superimposed levels that extend differently into the auditorium. The ground floor is in direct relationship to the street and the public realm. A generous, albeit dark and compressed foyer leads to the surprisingly light-filled auditorium.
The main space opens directly to a terrace at the street level and connects the existing classroom building to the lower level with a ramp and a broad staircase. The library and study rooms abut the existing classroom building, the mechanical room below the Mensa, and an outdoor reading garden. The west entrance provides a split-level connection to the auditorium below; and to the café, lounge, and internet stations above.
The framing structure of the building is a three-axis lacunar concrete slab supported by three rotationally-cast concrete columns. The slab is articulated through a variety of cycloidal coffers, some of which accommodate transparent skylights. The coffering reduces the actual weight of the supporting structure while demonstrating the physical depth of the construction. The skylights ventilate the space, provide acoustic absorption, and contain integrated lighting to illuminate the space by day and night.
A battery of slender, tapered steel columns integral to the curtain wall façade transfer the remainder of the roof loads. A meter-wide glazed roof along the perimeter between the new and existing buildings lends a lightness to the room that contrasts the massive character of the materials used in construction. The resulting play of light and shadow – of the monolithic and the immaterial, strikes a balance between the construction of a modern solitaire and the formation of a distinctive local building ensemble.
The Forum is a flexible building that permits a variety of uses. The main space is designed to accommodate occasional formal gatherings. For the opening ceremonies, the “Catwalk”- a wide bridge with illuminated glass flooring that is normally used as the main entrance to the building, became an impromptu stage for the school’s ‘Big Band’. A terrazzo ramp running along the edge of the auditorium ensures accessibility for the disabled, and is large enough to facilitate the transport of a piano to the upper level of the main space.
The Forum provides places to see and to be seen. The reading tables in the library overlook the multi-function rooms, and permit an unobstructed view of the space above and beyond. The corridor in the library provides a visual connection to the study room, the conference rooms, and to the catwalk above.
The ceiling below the so-called “Autobahn Bridge” connecting the Forum with the existing classroom building echoes the character of an American movie marquis. This element marks the entrance to the library. The cylindrical column adjacent to the library entrance is deliberately over-dimensioned, creating a conspicuous information column where advertisements and notices may be posted.
The entire enclosure is rendered in CEM-III concrete. The fly-ash content of this material presents a lighter appearance than that of standard concrete mixtures. To exhibit the beauty, economy, and character of this raw material, a large portion of the building remains as an exposed concrete construction.
The exterior cladding at ground level is a mill-finished aluminum rain-screen façade. The horizontal cassette establishes a plinth that contrasts markedly with the transparency and verticality of the upper-storey fixed glazing. Standard aluminum curtain wall profiles were polished to lend the entire building an elegant character. Exterior sun screening is hidden behind spandrel glass panels, which are articulated in order to correspond with the depth of the roof slab beyond.
White terrazzo flooring is used throughout the building. The three rotationally-cast columns support the roof and enclose the rainwater drainage of the building are bush-hammered to expose the various textures of the aggregate and matrix of the concrete. Standard walk-off mats are used at the main entrances, laid to give the impression of generous carpets. Modular acoustic panels absorb sound, add color, and bring a subtle material contrast to the spaces.
The entire ground floor slab is insulated from below. In-floor heating pipes are installed between the layers of reinforcing bars, allowing the mass of the concrete to be used for thermal mass activation. The building takes advantage of natural cross-ventilation, enabled through large fields of operable glass louvers. Additional ventilation is provided by operable skylights in the main roof slab. Stainless steel micro-louvers integrated into the curtain wall are used for exterior sun-control.
Twenty double- focus Metal-Halide lamps illuminate the entire floor area of the auditorium. Task-specific lighting is provided by a combination high-output fluorescent and LED sources.
Ecker Architekten, founded in 2000, has offices in Heidelberg and Buchen. The practice provides full architecture, planning and interior design services, with special emphasis on public sector projects. Ecker Architekten is multilingual and multicultural, currently employing staff from 6 countries. Diversity is the practice’s greatest resource and is fundamental to a continuous broadening of design vision.
The practice is driven by a consistent philosophical approach, distilling a project into elemental components to uncover new possibilities in built form. The firm actively participates in every phase of the planning and construction process in order to realize buildings of the highest quality possible. Ecker Architekten integrates the development and use of innovative construction methods and materials while building responsibly; striving for a contemporary architecture that ages with grace. When these efforts are successful, the result is an unexpectedly simple construction, an economic and sensuous use of materials, and a qualitative transformation of the ordinary.
Contact Ecker Architekten