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Was that your phone? No, that was the façade calling

Smart phone wizardry makes its impact in architecture, with the technology used on a green campus building façade with a difference

Designed by 3deluxe

From the architects

In recent years much has been said about smart cities and smart buildings but people rarely understand what the label can actually mean in real terms.

Together with owner FC Ingenieure and technology company Merck, architecture firm 3deluxe has come up with an attractive building ensemble with an innovative glass façade that adds a new facet to intelligent architecture.

The FC Campus’ “Smartphone Façade” is one of a kind

A building is intelligent if it doesn’t just stand there but can respond to the requirements of its users and also to external factors. At best, it can make people more comfortable while also optimising energy efficiency. 

The FC Campus building’s intelligent architectural element utilises a technology normally used in Apple smartphones, which here is integrated into its glass structure.


In the context of a building façade, this is a first. Integrated interactive liquid crystals allow for a sensor-controlled reduction in light and heat transfer to the building without any negative impact on transparency.

The building requires hardly any cooling, even at the height of summer, despite the fact that it features large-scale glazing and has no structural shading elements.

The trend in recent years towards cutting the expanses of windows in new buildings in order to save energy conflicts with people’s desire for bright, cheerful rooms flooded with light.

Extensive glazing and the effect this has on the way people relate to their environment is a key emotionally important aspect of well-being and thus is always a significant factor in 3deluxe’s building concepts.

Accordingly, intelligent glass is not only durable and efficient but also helpful in the innovative design of people-friendly architecture and one of the many technological innovations that will be necessary for planning smart cities in the future.

Consistent corporate design for future-oriented engineering company

The developer of this building ensemble, which is prominently situated in close proximity to one of Germany’s busiest autobahns, is FC Gruppe. The engineering company works both for Porsche and on innovative, future-oriented hospital concepts.

In light of this, the intention in 3deluxe’s building design was to combine innovation, sustainability, efficiency, and a meaningful arrangement, so as to create a distinctive composition.

A cube offered the most economical ratio between outside surface and volume, thus representing the most efficient building shape from a sustainability viewpoint.

The FC Group’s two identical cubes twist in opposite directions and stand on a large floating podium with open underground parking located beneath.

Because of the striking, organically shaped, storey-spanning windows, the two individual cubes merge, depending on perspective, to produce a sculptural overall effect with a varying, charming appearance.

The generous glazing means the modern, open-plan office premises are well lit from all sides and offer pleasant views from all workstations.

Along with the carefully considered placement of diagonals and radii in the façade, the building’s pared-back detailing contributes to its individualistic look.

The building’s inner workings: smart, digital, convenient

The office floors have a generous, open feel to them, as the building concept generally avoids internal walls.

The structure of the building invites a cooperative, non-hierarchical approach to work.

Communicative shared spaces and areas for focused work alternate with one another unobtrusively and the offices are fitted out with furniture that is appropriate to its urban context.

The concept of a paperless office allows for light, transparent furnishings and largely unimpeded city outlooks.

Thanks to an app specially designed by the developers, staff can control pretty well everything in the building.

They can select their lunches from the in-house food bar or be informatively guided through the surrounding park areas in their breaks.

To avoid plastic, water is provided from the well on the grounds, while the carpet is made of recycled fishing nets and plastic bottles.

Modern heated and chilled ceilings ensure a pleasant ambient temperature in the offices. 

Cooling and heating are provided from a geothermal source that uses 24 probes that run to a depth of 130m and electricity is generated by a PV system on the roof, meaning the building draws zero outside energy.

Nature and the protection of endangered species between a commercial park and the autobahn

The FC Campus building is situated in a semi-natural environment, between an industrial park, the autobahn feeder road, and a small tree and meadow habitat with a little stream – an environment deserving of protection.

The architecture has adopted a circumspect approach to this residual natural environment.

In order to avoid birds crashing into the generous glazing which stretches around corners, the architect in cooperation with the Swiss ornithological station Sempach introduced a delicate, semitransparent pattern printed onto the glazing which birds are aware of and avoid but that importantly will not spoil the view.

The outside lighting was designed in the form of insect-friendly LED lights with a low beam height and focused lighting on the surfaces, avoiding light emission into the surroundings.

The decision was taken not to install scenic lighting on the vegetation or the building shell. Throughout the entire site and in the open parking underneath the building’s floating base plate sealed areas such as roadways and footpaths have been kept to a minimum.

Credit list

Architects
Project
Campus Verwaltungsgebäude, Karlsruhe, Germany

Designed by: 3deluxe

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Sascha Jahnke

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