Architecture 489 Christian Noble

Structure Innovations 68

Commerzbank: A Sustainable Skyscraper Norman Foster
Commerzbank: Frankfurt, Germany Norman Foster’s Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany is a testament to large-scale, sustainable urban structures. Combined with strict German laws for the work environment and the growing desire for sustainable urban architecture, Foster creates a piece that not only meets those requirements, but defines space not scene before in high-rise design. Winter gardens allow vast amounts of light deep within the building and provide pleasant views to those working deeper within the building. Operable facades create natural ventilation throughout the entire structure. Commerzbank, the tallest building in Europe, demonstrates that sustainable, energy concious design is possible at the scale of the skyscraper.

Commerbank (Foster)

Commerbank Perspective Rendering

Typical Floor Plan (Buchanan) Site Plan (Buchanan) . Creating a central attrium space in a highrise building is not a simple task. To achieve this. First of all. the typical building layout includes a centralized core area for circulation. an unorthodox plan was essential. mechanical. the core functions were pushed to the outer corners of the building to make way for the atrium space. and other basic building needs.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 69 Plan Development To provide the spaces and building layout necessary to create some of the sustainable features desired.

from the glass roof at the atrium’s top.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 70 Winter Garden Section (Buchanan) Section Development Development of the section was essential to the effort of building sustainability in terms of lighting and ventilation. It was essential for there to be minimal intrusion into this space because it provided light both vertically. This space was free of structural members with the excetion of those used to frame the skylights which divide the building up into sections vertically. Winter gardens had to be rotated around the facade of the building. This created voids in the sections and therefore long spans in each direction. The central atrium of the building was a major part of the sectional development. from the winter garden facades to the office across the atrium. Building Section (Buchanan) . and horizontally.

First of all. Massing Axonometric Tendering Structural Axonometric (Buchanan) . Here is provided the vertical load support for the entire structure. special attention was paid to the structural system of the building.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 71 Structure Development To support the large spans of the winter gardens. At each corner of this triangle. the triangular-shaped plan provided the rigid structural support only provided by an equilateral triangle. Eight floor deep. the cores are located. Verendeel trusses provide the structure to span the gardens between the core vertical load members. a very efficient method for forming a structure. All of these strucutral elements wrapped around a central void allow the building’s structure to carry loads like a tube.

Central Lighting Lighting the interior of the building was a very important design factor.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 72 Natural. June AM Shadow Diagram June PM Shadow Diagram . This is provided all day long because the winter gardens are rotated around the building to capture light at all times of the day. Since the offices in the building wrapped along both the exterior and interior facades. those on the interior needed to be provided with an ample exterior light source as per German law.

December AM Shadow Diagram December PM Shadow Diagram . Central Lighting The diagrams on this and the previous page illlustrate the penetraion of light into the central space of the building’s atrium in the morning and afternoon during both summer and winter. light penetrates the facades of the winter gardens. When the sun is higher. the glass ceiling at the top of the atrium allows light in which reflects back and forth throughout the entire core of the building.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 73 Natural. When the sun is low in the sky.

mass quantities of natural light are brought directly to the center of the building from its base to the top. Two. Three. One. Winter Garden . offices facing the center of the building are provided light and exterior views through the gardens.Interior (Evans) Winter Garden . the garden spaces provide a much more green. the stacked gardens allow for ventilation through the atrium which is divided into sections as the building goes upward. Four.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 74 Typical View from Deck (Buchanan) Winter Gardens The winter gardens in this building provide a great number of fuctions. And finally. natural space for those working in the building which is something lacking in the typical urban work environment.Exterior (Evans) Winter Gardens (Evans) . the gardens provide a buffer zone of inulation between the central atrium space and the outdoors.

Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 75 Winter Gardens Massing Axonometric .

Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 76 Exploded Axonometric .

Virtually all offices must have a window to provide light and a view outside. Aside from a well ventilated workspace. operable facade on this project is central to the issue of sustainablity. The drawing at the bottom is of the original facade design. The built design provides for the separation of these two making for much more efficient ventilation.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 77 Facade The design of the layered. These facades provide that light in quantities sufficient to make the workplace pleasant. lighting is of great concern. Facade Light and Ventilation Diagram (Evans) Original Facade Design (Evans) . These facades allow for ventilation on the scale of the office just as the winter gardens provide ventilation for the entire building. Strict German laws exist regulating employee comfort in the work environment. Note that both intake of fresh air and exhaust of old air take place in the same area within the facade.

“Banking on Ventilation.” Baumeister.” http://www. “ . February 1998.fosterandpartners.” AJ Building Study. 18-27. Barrie. May 1997. “Reinventing the SkyScraper. Februdary 1997.Architecture 489 Christian Noble Structure Innovations 78 Bibliography Buchanan. 30-67. Norman and Partners. Evans. Foster. no 329. Peter.” A and U. “Commerzbank-Zentrale in Frankfurt am Main.

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