Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Concrete funnels, shells and arches

[Image: model of Stuttgart 21 station by Ingenhoven Architects]

The competition for a new station in Stuttgart for high speed trains was won by Ingenhoven Architects all the way back in 1997 or so. The project is still not happening or really officially cancelled and thus won't make it to the proposed 2013 completion.

 [Image: Cover of 'Flydende sten' (Liquid Stone) a state of the art for concrete technologies and Architecture published by the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2007 and written by Anne-Mette Manelius, myself]

I initially looked at the structure while working at a publication about architectural perspectives for concrete and every now and then wonders if it will be... I come to think about it whenever I come across projects of the slightest similarity, such as Yamamoto in my last post. The project is a more than 400 metres spanding thin shell structure with an urban square park upon and the station platforms below the shell. The project features big, funnel shaped columns which open up and become windows at the roof level to provide natural light and ventilation. Below they narrow down to stand on the platform.

Numerous historical and political issues has impacted the delay of the decision making about the project. Read more about the polemic here. The winning project was designed in collaboration with Stuttgart based engineer Frei Otto. The design was intended as a minimal surface structure and based on the hanging chain model or reversed suspension model developed by Otto.
Apparently the project was changed by the architect without Otto's influence - reversing the initial principles of the suspended shape into a project which acts in compression and thus quite impossible to built... That's what I hear, anyway - and this could be an even heavier reason to why the Stuttgart 21 might not get built.

[Image: Suspension model for form finding of the arches for the new train station in Stuttgart, Germany, 2000 (Christoph Ingenhoven and Partner, Frei Otto, Büro Happold, Leonhardt and Andrae)]

Two other, actually built projects are Japanese. The Namics Techno Core is a structure by Riken Yamamoto which I just wrote about here. And Toyo Ito's fantastic Tama Art University Library

 [Namics Techno Core by Riken Yamamoto/ Photo by Koichi Satake]
[Images above: Facade and interior of Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito, Photos by Ishiguro Photographic Institute]


  1. Hello Anne-Mette, I am a landscape/architect/sculptor, I really appreciate your articles. I am also very excited about the possibilities of employing fabric-forms to make curved poured-concrete. I would almost like to drop everything and jump into research in that domain! Thanks for the great work,

    Marcus Macdonald,
    Vancouver, Canada

  2. Hi Marcus, and thanks for the lovely words - If you want to try the technique with some cool people, there will be a workshop in Vermont, USA in late June - I'll post more when I know more.


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