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Fig. 83: Details of facade cladding to block: horizontal section through spandrel panel, horizontal section through windows, and elevation on windows and spandrel panel showing individual prefabricated parts and joints: 1 spandrel panel element, 2 column cladding, 3 lesene, 4 mullion

Hans Kollhoff: high-rise block, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (D), 1999

massive, sculpted overall effect that evocates a masonry building. The principle of f acade r elief is employed elegantly here in the form of overlapping elements in order to conceal the unavoidable joints with their permanently elastic filling. As, on the one hand, the building does not have a rectangular footprint and, on the other, the facade is divided into five different sections (plinth, block, middle, tower, and apex), there are very many different f acade elements.

The production of the prefabricated elements was a complex process. Steel forms were used to minimise the tolerances. Rubber dies were laid in these with accurate three-dimensional joint layouts. This enabled the hard-fired bricks (the outermost layer of the element), cut lengthwise, to be laid precisely in the form. The next stage involved filling the joints with a concrete mix coloured with a dark pigment. The reinforcement was then placed on this external, still not fully stable facing and the form filled with normal-weight concrete. The porous surface of the hard-fired bricks resulted in an inseparable bond between the protective brick facing and the stabilising concrete backing. To create the (intended) impression of solid brickwork, specials were used at all edges and corners instead of the halved bricks.

The hard-fired bricks therefore assume no loadbear-ing functions and instead merely form a protective layer over the concrete. On the other hand, it is precisely the use of such bricks that promote the idea of the tower, i.e. mankind's presumption to want to build a skyscraper from thousands of tiny bricks. (Is that perhaps the reason behind the Gothic bond?) And in addition they paradoxically stand for the image of supporting and loading as well; in the plasticity of the facade they in no way appear to be merely "wallpaper".

As masonry materials have only a limited compressive strength, their use for high-rise loadbearing structures is limited - the tallest self-supporting clay brickwork building is the Monadnock Building in Chicago (18 storeys and external walls 2 m thick at ground-floor level!). Prefabricated facades therefore represent a satisfactory solution for high-rise buildings.

Fig. 83: Details of facade cladding to block: horizontal section through spandrel panel, horizontal section through windows, and elevation on windows and spandrel panel showing individual prefabricated parts and joints: 1 spandrel panel element, 2 column cladding, 3 lesene, 4 mullion

Hans Kollhoff: high-rise block, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (D), 1999

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