August Kühne Building in Bremen

Complex building situations shown on an stapeled architectural concrete façade


In 2018/19, a new office building was constructed at the original headquarters of the Kühne + Nagel logistics group in Bremen. Its predecessor completed in the 1960s was demolished because it became too small to cater for the needs of the growing business. It was replaced with a new building on the same plot at the corner of Wilhelm Kaisen Bridge in Bremen. The new complex provides a total net office space of 13,500 m². It comprises three distinct elements, namely a 40 m high, 11-story tower, a connecting section, and a low-rise building.


Load-bearing architectural concrete façade

The particular design feature of this building is its load-bearing façade composed of precast architectural-concrete elements. Besides this façade, rigid concrete cores (staircases) inside the building act as the only other load-bearing components. The floor slabs extending from the concrete cores to the façade have a 7 m span, thus creating office spaces unobstructed by intermediate columns. The precast elements are 2.70 m wide and 7.50 m high. Isokorb® elements connect any two of the floor slabs to the precast façade units. A C50/60 concrete grade was used for the load-bearing façade designed as a combined precast and post-and-beam structure. The appearance of the concrete resembles the shade of a Weser sandstone; the concrete surface was acid-washed to achieve this finish. An anti-graffiti coating or impregnation was factory-applied to the precast components in defined areas.


Challenges in structural engineering and design

The unique design outlined above resulted in many challenges, including the structural design of the building. The structural engineering team had to face the fact that there was no established system that would transfer the loads acting on the floor slabs to the façade panels because the actual loads are too high to be accommodated by a standard solution (VRD = 820 kN or 500 kN). Likewise, the structural analysis had to consider the thermal decoupling and the thermal action of Δ t = 60°C associated with an element length variation of about 2.5 cm in the vertical direction. In addition, high impact loads needed to be accommodated for the entire ground-floor level situated directly adjacent to a major traffic route.

These are just some of the many different details that had to be considered at the design and execution stages of this project. This paper discusses how the theoretical basis (i.e. the design exercise) was transferred into practice and how the close collaboration the structural engineering office and the precast plant entered into made it possible to successfully design and produce custom elements and structures.


Related articles:

Issue 02/2014 Ohlingsmühle office building in Wuppertal

Load-bearing architectural concrete façade –

A new office and commercial building was constructed directly adjacent to the Ohligsmühle suspended railway station in the city center of Wuppertal. Its concrete façade has a load-bearing function....

Issue 03/2013 Ed. Züblin AG

Façade with a load-bearing function

Previously, any attempt at merging the design aspect of a façade with a load-bearing function was subject to tight constraints but state-of-the-art precast technologies enable new options in this...

Issue 02/2021

Neuer Kanzlerplatz project in Bonn – Structural challenges and solutions for the façade

“Off-the-shelf” solutions are no longer possible when combining a sophisticated, unique architectural design with a load-bearing architectural concrete façade system. What is required, though, is a...

Issue 06/2020 DYCKERHOFF

Precast concrete façade reinterprets Berlin‘s architectural tradition

The architecture of the „Prager Karree“ building complex in Berlin‘s Stadthafenquartier interprets the architectural tradition of the two-story base area in a contemporary fashion. The slender...

Issue 07/2017 BWE/Hebau

Prestigious façades made of architectural concrete

A seven-story new building with a gross floor space of 35,700 m² has recently been erected by company Zechbau, NL Berlin, at Otto-Suhr-Allee in Berlin-Charlottenburg by order of Art Invest Real...