Composite facade brings new row house into harmony with its historic neighbors.Florian Köhler, whose firm, Köhler Architekten, recently designed and built a new row house in Hamburg’s Ottensen quarter, observes a disheartening trend among his fellow architects. When designing for a site rich in historic context, they tend to shy away from all allusions to the past, opting instead for an antiseptic modernism. “Many architects only build cubic forms without reference to their environment, and cityscapes are becoming increasingly similar,” he said. “We deliberately wanted to go a different route.” Ice Loft, which is surrounded by protected properties dating to the mid-19th century, features a tripartite facade that translates familiar historic forms into smooth curves and planes. “Our unusual approach to the transformation of classical qualities into flowing forms seems to be a suitable alternative, at least at this point, in this urban district in Hamburg,” said Köhler. For Ice Loft, Köhler Architekten sought a third way between historicism and anti-referential contemporary design. “We wanted to build and establish an unusual modern building without provocation, which would be intuitively understood,” said Köhler. The streamlined facade distills the iconic ornaments prevalent on the surrounding buildings—including bay windows and dormers—as a series of simple shapes. “We took these elements and formed them as if in one naturally flowing movement of the entire building structure and freezing them at the right moment,” explained Köhler. The architects chose HI-MACS solid surface over a more traditional material like stone. “The inserted HI-MACS panels are organically malleable as well as simultaneously precise and accurate,” said Köhler. “These characteristics fit in well with our idea of frozen material.” Because HI-MACS requires no exterior finish and thus no regular re-painting, he added, the material contributes to the building’s sustainability profile. A bent metal grid distinguishes Ice Loft’s ground floor. “In historic buildings, where the basis of ancient orders were formed by columns, the ground floor was often offset [by way of] material, color, or surface structure,” explained Köhler. The designers’ modern take on this traditional gesture includes a foundation designed as a planter, from which climbing plants will eventually erupt to transform the metal facade into a vertical garden. Besides brightening the building’s exterior, the green wall is intended as a graffiti deterrent. The building’s zinc roof, like the HI-MACS surface, abstracts the conventional dormer profile into an overturned wave. Köhler is impressed by the positive feedback his experiment in contextual design has elicited—especially from within his profession. “An architect from the neighborhood called our building ‘the most beautiful house in Ottensen,’” he recalled. “As architects are usually very critical of new ideas, especially if they relate to historical form, we are particularly pleased with this compliment.”
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Technology is supposed to make design a more streamlined, efficient process. But as anyone who’s ever squinted at a tools palette of inscrutable icons can attest, it too often deters the creative process. To the rescue comes a smart selection of task-specific, nimble apps and programs. HI-MACS App LG Hausys Available for Apple and Android phones, this app’s clean design and linear sequencing makes it easy to explore. In just a few taps, users can find descriptions and specifications of the surfacing material—including water permeability, thermoformability, and heat resistance—as well as all the products and colors available. Brick It Pro Brick Development Association Brick It Pro is a reference guide for building professionals containing interactive brick tables, bond patterns, and joint profiles. This iOS app is particularly useful for anyone involved with designing, surveying, or constructing brickwork. PAC App Petersen Aluminum Corp. The PAC App is loaded with the entire library of PAC metal architectural products and technical information architects and roofing contractors need, such as literature, spec sheets, CAD drawings, testing documents, and BIM files. The high-definition app offers clear and simple visual navigation for quick reference, and all documents can be viewed, printed, or emailed. App updates are automatic. The app is ideal for field use because it does not require an Internet connection after installation. Rainbow Masonry Designer Holcim Since a brick or block façade is more than 20% mortar, today’s design decisions incorporate more than merely brick color. Customers and clients need to see the full gamut of masonry decisions for you to get the spec right the first time. Now there is a tool that illustrates your masonry vision and facilitates instant collaboration. The Rainbow Masonry Designer app allows you to choose brick colors, bonds, and 60 mortar colors. A complete palette is at your fingertips to explore, collaborate, and save your masonry selections before sending the specifications to your supplier for samples. Skylight Planner Velux To help clients understand and visualize residential skylights, this app lets users preview different sizes and configurations in either a model space or, with an uploaded photograph, in the homeowner’s existing house. Product information and an installer directory are also included. Total Protection Roofing System Owens Corning It takes more than just shingles to protect a home—it takes an integrated system of seven components and layers working together to help increase the performance of the roof—and to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of those who live beneath it. This app walks users through each layer, product by product, to help clients gain a better understanding of material and cost estimates.