Christoph Henschel / MA Thesis 2020 / UdK Berlin
Supervisors: Prof. Gabriele Schultheiß, Prof. Christoph Gengnagel, WM Lisa Tiedje
The goal of this master thesis was to conduct a study on how a reinforced concrete building that is to be demolished can be broken down into elements and how these elements can be used to construct a new building at a different location.
City Hall Ahlen
The technique of concrete sawing was chosen to cut up the existing structure.
A basic triangular cutting grid based on the existing floor plan was developed,
which allows to create individual parts with corresponding widths and lengths, facilitating the assembly.
The size of the parts depends on the loading volume of a truck and the load capacity of a crane.
The floors of the administrative wing are cut into parts of different sizes based on the cutting grid. Due to the shape of the original floor plan, the result was mainly parallelograms and trapezoidal shapes as well as some special shapes.
Inspired by the game of tangram, first attemps of assembling the cut-out pieces where made. The carpet like structures with void areas here and there gave the inspiration to work with patio house typologies.
Based on a sketch of a patio-house typology, an initial attempt was made to rearrange the cut-out parts to form a reconstructed building. The attempt resulted in a one-story house with several residential units. However, some of the apartments were too large or had impractical corners and angles, so it was decided to plan the apartments and rooms more precisely and and to adjust the cutting-plan accordingly.
In the initial reconstruction test three spatial situations appeared that were interesting and full of quality. These situations were extracted and used as a reference to guide the floorplan layout of the next phases.
In the second attempt, again a floorplan sketch was designed as a basis, but in this case more precisely. The parts were cut specifically for the individual apartments and rooms from the floorplan and the sketch was thus “recreated”. In this experiment the apartments work better, however, the cutting pattern for the existing building was more inefficient due to the precise specifications of the new buildings floorplan.
On a site on the outskirts of Ahlen, about 4.5km from the location of the town hall, an apartment building is to be constructed from the parts of the demolished Ahlen town hall.
For the building design, based on several previous test designs, a mixture of both precise planning for the layout of the future apartments and grid-based cutting of the existing building was applied. The design process was therefor influenced both from the deconstruction, as well as the reconstruction.
The resulting building is made from 440 parts from the town hall and includes 23 both one- and two-story apartments between 90m2 and 140m2. Due to the use of the recycled parts, each individual apartment has an individual floor plan.
In accordance with courtyard house typologies, the individual apartments receive light and ventilation through narrow courtyards. This allows the building to be denser and the site to be used more efficiently, so that less ground needs to be sealed. At the same time, the courtyards, each located between two individual apartments, offer the possibility of communal use as a garden or meeting space for the inhabitants.
The exterior shape of the building is determined by the cut-to-size parts in the interior. The internal structure can be read from the facade with its zigzag-like projections.
Before / After
The reuse of reinforced concrete components makes sense not only from a resource and energy-saving perspective, but also from an architectural one. The apartments of the resulting building exhibit unexpected qualities in many places due to the use of the cut-to-size parts: angled floor plans as well as seemingly oversized columns create unusual yet attractive spaces. This type of architecture would very likely not have been created by conventional new construction planning. At the same time, the knowledge about the origin of the building fabric shapes the identity of the building and can thus create a special relationship between the residents and their house.