Space invader: essentially an exercise in enclosing vast tracts of space, this new trade fair hall in Frankfurt is distinguished by its great roof which is both sculptural and efficient.
A fundamental requirement was that the upper hall should be entirely column-free to maximize internal flexibility. (The architects claim that it is the largest column-free space in Europe.) Devised in collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners, the roof is essentially a conventional folded plate vault curved and twisted to make it both more structurally efficient and tectonically expressive. Steel members form a single continuous folding grid, in which compressive and tensile zones can be clearly distinguished. Each of the five roof arches is flexed across its width, turning it into a stiff double curvature shell. Intermediate valleys between the arches are also distorted to achieve the same effect. Such an unorthodox form was made possible by the use of sophisticated customized computer software to analyze and plot the flow of forces in three dimensions.
Moulding the roof into double curves has several advantages: it not only stiffens the entire structure, but the resulting shallow arched form is also both more elegant and more efficient, reducing the internal volume requiring air-conditioning. In structural terms, the roof operates like a spider's web, at once light yet immensely strong, pared down to the absolute minimum required to provide the necessary support.
The roof deck is formed from prefabricated stressed skin panels comprising two profiled steel decks riveted together with their troughs aligned in opposite directions. Conforming to the structural geometry, these are manufactured with an in-built twist. Yet because of the repetitive nature of the roof, only 60 different panel types were required, so reducing manufacturing costs. Roof vaults are supported at their ends by big A-frames with large raking struts exposed. A conventional concrete post and beam structure holds up the upper floor.
The sensuous, swelling form of the roof is best appreciated from the side or from underneath, within the soaring volume of the exhibition hail. For visitors, this experience is like being inside the belly of some prehistoric beast. Clerestory glazing draws daylight deep into the interior and accentuates the undulating form of the roofline. Curved booms suspended within the arches contain lighting and air handling plant.
On either side of the exhibition halls are four levels of foyers and break out areas which have their own animation and drama as people scuttle around the luminous concourses and promenade up and down the escalators. Taming and civilizing such an unwieldy spatial behemoth is never easy, but Grimshaw manages to crack the whip with a good deal of rigour and style.
RELATED ARTICLE: Architect
Nicholas Grlmshaw & Partners. London
Nicholas Grimshaw, Neven Sidor, Ingrid Bille, Moritz May, Stephen Ridell. Robin Kirschke, Simon Beames, Ben Heath. Wolfgang Stockinger, Adam Firth, Carl Shenton, Jens Hardvendel, Ruby Kenzi, Ted Finn, Birgit Greulich, Max Fawcett, Giles Omezl, Jorg Winkler, Tlmm Schoenberg, Shoalb Rawat
Arup GmbH/Schlaich Bergermann/BGS/Hahn & Bartenbach
Kuehn Bauer & Partners/HL Technik/Dorflinger
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|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2002|
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