A new star has “risen” over a former barrack complex in the northwest of Augsburg in Bavaria.
The Urban Star is a large star-shaped sculpture made from colourful, illuminated concrete blocks that offer space for people to sit, relax and interact. Most of the cubes are made from concrete through-coloured with inorganic pigments manufactured by the specialty chemicals company LANXESS.
A total of 24 of the cubes are made from translucent concrete, inside which coloured LED lights are embedded. During daylight hours, the sculpture’s appearance is characterised by the coloured cubes, with the translucent concrete then becoming increasingly prominent as twilight approaches.
“The structure is built to last, and the desired colour effect is designed to be enjoyed for many years to come. Therefore, we decided to use iron-oxide pigments, which are known to remain colour-stable over decades and can withstand whatever the weather throws at them,” says Oliver Fleschentraeger, market segment manager of construction in the Inorganic Pigments (IPG) Business Unit at LANXESS.
Urban district planning: Kobelcenter-Süd
The Augsburg urban development society acquired the former barrack complex, which was used by the United States of America (USA) armed forces until 1994, as public trustee for the city of Augsburg and has been gradually turning the land over to civilian use.
The development project aims to create a mix of commercial and residential properties, with plenty of green space and good links to neighbouring construction areas. The urban development area, Kobelcenter-Süd, on the former barrack complex is one such quarter that will see a mix of commercial and residential properties.
The “stars” and plants recall the many years during which the site was used by the Americans and the cultural mark they made. They encompass elements of American landscapes and legends, representing a contrast with the site’s use as a functional residential and commercial area.
Vivid colours by day and night
The publicly accessible Urban Star is located at the centre of a district plaza that covers about 800m². The block-like structure of its cubes and the colour scheme of the concrete surfaces are reminiscent of the downtown urban landscapes typically found in the west of the USA.
The blocks measure 84 x 84cm and, in keeping with the sloping topography of the plaza, rise between 14 and 60cm above the ground. The concrete cubes are designed with a flat, pyramid-shaped pitch on their surface, which prevents water from accumulating and minimises the risk of ice forming in the winter. In combination with the concrete cubes, the light-grey, artificial-stone paving used on the plaza helps to create a harmonious overall aesthetic.
The Urban Star is secured to the ground by means of a 25cm-thick, reinforced-concrete baseplate, which projects by about 10cm and follows the outline of the star. The baseplate lies on a foundation bed that was compressed layer by layer. A solid, step-like substructure for the coloured concrete cubes and made from standard concrete was mounted on the reinforced-concrete plate.
The surface of the concrete has been specially waterproofed. The concrete and translucent-concrete cubes are mounted onto the substructure with drainage mortar and, at the edges, directly onto the baseplate. Drainage mortar in combination with step drainage ensure that any water beneath the concrete cubes is properly drained away.
Inorganic pigments for long-lasting structures
LANXESS is the world’s largest manufacturer of synthetic iron-oxide pigments and one of the leading producers of chromium-oxide inorganic pigments. The Inorganic Pigments Business Unit has extensive expertise in the production and handling of pigments and processing in concrete manufacturing.
“The technical service offering comprises extensive analyses regarding the colorimetric and physical pigment characteristics as well as their influence on concrete-related and rheological characteristics in customer-specific applications, which can be simulated under laboratory conditions,” says Fleschentraeger. “This is why we collaborate closely with raw material producers, plant manufacturers, architects and universities.”
For more information, visit www.lanxess.com.
Photo: LANXESS AG
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