Since Munich’s Technical University was officially selected one of Germany’s first three ‘Elite Universities’ in 2006, the school’s campus, just north of the City of Garching, es evolved into an expanding construction site in the open countryside. Huge carports and glass buildings line the streets round Germany’s first research reactor, an egg-shaped nuclear complex that opened in 1957. Arriving on campus, you are greeted by a 50-m-tall translucent weather tower that also marks the entrance to the research area.
‘The building refers to no particular typology’, says project architect Maximilian Rimmel of Deubzer König + Rimmel. ‘We developed the shape of the tower using our own ideas, without losing sight of the technical aesthetics of the area as a whole.’ The geometry of the building may seem simple only at first glance, but it consists of several complex layers. The oval ground floor was achieved by merging two ellipses. The curving tower, which tapers as it rises, is clad in thermo folded Plexiglas strips (produced by Evonik) up to 6 m long. Through these translucent bands, you can see the supporting concrete structure beneath the facade. ‘We tested the building’s geometry in a wind tunnel’, explains Rimmel. As a consequence the horizontal strips all hit the same vertex in the West, even though the shape of each element is unique.
Measurement sensors projecting evenly from four sides of the structure add to the technical appearance of the meteorological station. Current data, such as relative humidity and temperature, are displayed on the façade’s digital banner and transmitted to researchers. At night, the Oskar von Miller Tower, named after an eminent German engineer and scientist, becomes a luminous landmark.
text: Sandra Hofmeister