Located on the edge of a green area, the new Osnabrück Student Union dormitory immediately catches the eye – fascinating not only for its colourful cladding but also as an architectural concept with its wave-like shape and vibrant design.
One with nature’s palate
Expressing both vibrant student life and a correspondence to nature with its play on the surrounding reddish-green colours of the grass, the building clad with special ceramic pieces from the KeraShape collection, manufactured by Agrob Buchtal, conveys an impression which is tactile and haptic, while still being earthy and natural.
Decidedly self-confident, seemingly fading into the background and merging with the trees of the surrounding green area, the four-storey dormitory reveals its dynamics not only because of its colourfulness, but also because of the effect of its wave-like, curtain-type design. The design emulates a continuous sine curve, often seen in nature and many natural science subjects. Looking closer reveals the colourful impressions, differentiated into fine individual colour stripes.
Curved and modular
With the facade consisting of 9 574 single-coloured ceramic pieces (that do not differ from each other, except for their colour and length) from Agrob Buchtal’s KeraShape series, the elements are arranged in layers, one above the other, and are glazed on all four sides in six different colours.
Uniform with a 50 x 60mm cross-section and usually 81, 114 or 145cm long, they are mounted to the substructure with concealed clamps, giving the impression of a seamlessly continuous stripe of colours.
Even with its inclined, overhanging facade and wave-like shape, the fastening of the special ceramic pieces were not effected. Nevertheless, it was necessary to develop a system which exactly defined the position and inclination of each individual element to ensure that their mounting was simple, but precise.
The solution was steel swords of different lengths, fixed at the outer wall of the shell, on which a standardised substructure could be mounted. This, together with the trapezoidal sheet cover of the thermal insulation, is completely black, in order to avoid reflections or wrong colours being visible through open joints.
Taking great care in terms of the colour and design of the building, PLAN.CONCEPT Architekten chose six reddish and green colours, which the team from Agrob Buchtal, using their carefully developed recipe, meticulously realised.
The maintenance-free and environmentally-friendly composition made ceramics the ideal material for this build. With sustainability a vital consideration, the architects wanted to futureproof the building by using suitable natural and energy-efficient materials, without affecting the uniqueness. Creating a building shell suitable to incorporate the plus-energy house concept of photovoltaics, the solar heat and heat pump were other considerations.
Using small linear elements such as these special ceramic pieces demonstrates how the use of colour, flexible and creative building design, and unique materials can transform buildings into colourful silhouettes that can stand the test of time.