by Lynne Blundell

FAVOURITES – 25 February 2010 – Christoph Ingenhoven, principal of German architectural firm Ingenhoven Architects, had the audience at Green Cities 2010 spellbound during an impressive presentation of his firm’s cutting edge sustainable architecture. He and his team have designed buildings for cities around the world, collectively winning 30 first prizes in national and international competitions.

Considered one of the world’s leading designers of green buildings, Ingenhoven is also known for his emphasis on social sustainability and his strong stance against designing buildings for repressive regimes.

Some of his best known sustainable projects include Stuttgart Railway Station, Taiwan’s Opera House, the Breeze Tower in Osaka and in Australia, Dexus Property Group’s highly sustainable building currently under construction at 1 Bligh St, Sydney.

Ingenhoven opened his presentation with some insightful comments on the inspiration for his designs:

“Inspiration for architects should be buildings without architects – simple structures that provide shelter from the storm.”

“Form follows evolution in nature. As architects we should do the same to find beauty. Sensible form creates beauty.”

“Beautiful architecture is not driven by aesthetics but by efficient engineering.”

And on what cities should aspire to be:

“Supergreen is about political correctness as well as environmental sustainability. It is not just about being green, it is about acting responsibly.

“A denser city is a better city – not just the physical but in the vital mix of users. It must include residential, commercial, entertainment.”

Sydney, for example. said Ingenhoven, does not do this well. It is a sprawling city with an immense area of single family houses. This type of city is simply unsustainable. Better examples are Tokyo which, with a population density of almost 6000 people per square kilometre, uses a third of the power used by Los Angeles, and New York which has a vibrant mix of users in the inner city.

Ingehoven then went on to show slides of his projects and to explain the key sustainability features. The double facade with sun shading between the layers was a recurring feature, eliminating the need for airconditioning and dramatically reducing energy use. Sophisticated engineering maximises use of natural ventilation, improving indoor air quality, tenant wellbeing and productivity.

The projects

Lufthansa Aviation Centre

At the Lufthansa Headquarters in Frankfurt, the comb-like building plan has 10 wings and uses enclosed landscaped gardens as buffer zones. In total the building houses 4500 employees and has 1850 office spaces that all have views into the glass roofed gardens and can be naturally ventilated.

The gardens provide for an ecological and healthy climate. There is even a beach volleyball court, complete with sand.

Christoph Ingenhoven explained the ventilation system – outside air is brought in through air tubes underneath the building and used air then expelled via vents in the roof of the atrium. Office windows can be opened onto the atrium for natural ventilation of office spaces.

“It is a totally transparent office landscape – a city in itself. And it is designed so that people can work wherever they like. They don’t have to be in their actual office space,” said Ingenhoven.

Stuttgart Railway Station

Ingenhoven’s design for Stuttgart Railway Station is based on the reversed suspension model used in cathedrals such as Gaudi’s famous Sagrada Familia. This efficient concrete shell and supporting structure allows a lower construction height and a reduction in surfaces and diameters, an important aspect of the design.

The supporting structure and the lighting cone in the platform hall merge the platform level with the square and park landscape. Varied and wide views and the elegance of the supporting structure give the central station its unmistakable identity.

And once again natural ventilation and temperature control is achieved through clever design.

“Through use of natural daylight through skylights we can control the temperature at a maximum of 27 degrees in summer and 14 degrees in winter,” said Ingenhoven.

UCD Gateway, University College Dublin, Ireland

UCD Gateway, University College Dublin features a curved roof

Ingenhoven Architects design for University College in Dublin, UCD Gateway, arranges all existing and future buildings around a central green space, called the beltwalk-table

The concept is a sustainable campus without CO2 emissions and it aims to set benchmarks in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. Features include a curved roof, covering all building parts and integrating photovoltaic and solar thermal systems as well as wind turbines and extensive greenery.

Deep piling to access geo thermal energy will provide more than enough energy for the whole campus, said Ingenhoven.

The project consists of 150,000 square metres of gross floor area including facilities for teaching, exhibiting, a film institute with cinema, offices and laboratories, a hotel and student apartments and space for retail and other services. Completion will be in 2013.

Osaka Breeze Tower, Japan

The Breezé Tower with its double glass façade allowing natural ventilation of the interiors, is the first environmentally friendly skyscraper in Japan, according to Ingenhoven.

The building achieved an S-Class in the Japanese CASBEE-System, the highest rating for sustainable architecture in Japan.

Ingenhoven created a 177 metre high-rise building with mixed use on the first seven storeys, an opera house on the eighth level, then offices and finally a restaurant on the top floor. The idea was to maximise the diversity of users.

The floor to ceiling office windows open inwards, with a second glass façade containing gaps, allowing 50 per cent natural ventilation.

“The windows can be opened – something that is very unusual in Japan,” said Ingenhoven.

European Investment Bank, Luxembourg

The head office of the European Investment bank in Luxembourg is partly underground. Its distinctive shape, curved on one side and vertical on the other contains a large atrium that provides natural ventilation for the rest of the building.

The building, which received a BREEAM excellent rating, is cooled by a geothermal district system and the design ensures minimum temperatures of six degrees in the atrium and 21 degrees in the offices.

A key feature is the open and transparent layout to encourage communication and interaction of the building’s occupants.

1 Bligh St, Sydney

Ingenhoven’s contribution to Sydney’s skyline is Dexus Property group’s eliptical tower at 1 Bligh St. (see our previous story on this)

Designed to achieve a 5 star NABERS energy rating and Australia’s first 6-star Green Star rating for a high rise, the building will use substantially less energy than a conventional high rise.

The elliptical glass tower is angled on the corner site to maximise both the harbour view and the sun. It will have a double glass skin that allows the sun in while also controlling its heat.

A major feature is an open south facing internal atrium, naturally ventilated via a series of automated glass louvres. Free heating is provided by in-slab pipework supplied with the heat that is normally rejected through the cooling towers.

lblundell@thefifthestate.com.au