Thursday, 31 July 2014

Kempinski Hotel (Munich, 1993)

Façade of the Hotel Kempinski in Munich
The façade of the Kempinski Hotel in Munich is a landmark for those who are interested in structural glass. Along with La Villette in Paris (Peter Rice, 1987) represent the step forward achieved in architecture through the innovation design in façades.

The façade is transparent without an apparent structure that holds the glass wall in place. Only an unnoticed fitting sited at each corner of every glass pane is visible from the access of Terminal 2 in Munich´s airport. The attention of the observer is drawn and only for curiosity's sake is worth exploring to understand how this particular structural system operates.

Interesting observations can take place when the observer is placed within the lobby. The glass panes are mechanically held in the small fittings fixed in the vertical cables hanging on the roof and connected on the floor. At the same time, a horizontal pre-stressed cable is fixed between the columns of the primary structure and connected through each of the fittings at every horizontal glass joint.

Façade view from the interior where the particular structural system can be explored
Detail of the fitting where the vertical and horizontal cables are connected with the glass pane
The wind load appears to be transferred to the columns through the horizontal pre-stressed cables and the dead weight appears to be supported through the vertical cables suspended on the roof. Both cables are integrated behind the joints of the glass panes.

Image of the vertical cable connected on the floor
Image of the horizontal cable connected on the primary structure
The glass seems to be toughened laminated and some ripples of air bubbles are visible at the edge areas within the glass pane.

This ambitious design leaded by the architect Helmut Jahn and the engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann und Partner provided continuity to Peter´s Rice legacy in façade engineering.

Interior view from the lobby


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