A smooth finish for a "smart workplace"

Nick Myall
Wednesday 14 Jun 2017

The new Microsoft HQ in Germany has a facade that displays fascinating depth thanks to a new durable, weather- and UV-resistant material

Designed by Munich architectural practice GSP Architekten, the headquarters of Microsoft in Germany consists of a staggered building structure with numerous plant-covered terraces and courtyards bathed in natural light. Its open campus layout and friendly ambiance captivates not only the 1,900 Munich-based Microsoft employees but also its neighbours. Laid out over seven floors, the 26,000 sq m space has been designated as a “Smart Workplace.” Employees decide when, where and how they carry out their work. Four different “Workspaces” are found in the building, each taking into consideration the varying work demands of staff.

The building’s exterior is characterised by its prominent white facade made of Corian®. “The most important criteria for choosing Corian® for the building envelope was the smooth, homogeneous external image we were able to achieve. The look is especially fascinating when illuminated by the sun,” explains Ingo Schäfer from GSP Architekten. “As an additional advantage, the smooth, non-porous Corian® surface has a self-cleaning effect. Therefore, dirt will not adhere to the facade.”

Work on the facade was carried out by HAGA Metallbau GmbH. Thanks to the flexible, three-dimensionally adjustable substructure developed by HAGA, the pre-fabricated Corian® panels were installed with the utmost precision. HAGA commissioned Hasenkopf, Industrial partner of the Corian® Quality Network Industrial Partner, to fabricate Corian®.

Hasenkopf delivered the pre-fabricated panels and shaped components according to a strict time schedule. A logistical tour de force, 5,200 sq m of Corian® facade in the Glacier White colour were delivered in 1,400 individual parts. The durable, weather- and UV-resistant material is easy to clean and maintain. It features an appealing aesthetic, is friendly to the touch and permits the on-site removal of graffiti.

Technically speaking, this is a ventilated, rainscreen-mounted facade with undercut anchors fastened to the back of Corian®. They carry the dead weight as well as all the other forces involved with the exterior wall thanks to a sophisticated rail and hook system.

The Corian® organization in Germany assisted the architects and fabricators during the planning and fabrication of the facade. For example, they filed the application for building approval (Zulassung im Einzelfall) of the facade material. In order to receive approval, the experts of the Corian® business compiled previous submissions and audits from several projects successfully implemented in Germany and Europe.

Due to their excellent product knowledge, the required technical audits were approved without any problems. Additional help came from the existing ETA (European Technical Approval) certification for facades that Corian® holds.

The prominent facade shines on its surroundings in the early morning hours. The frames made of Corian® enclose two- to three-storey-high window elements, with narrow, room-high pivot windows providing direct ventilation. The innovative building frames are like oversized windows allowing a view of the surrounding landscape. They are reminiscent of the product that made Microsoft one of the world’s leading brands.

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