An office building with unique character

In Mannheim’s Neuostheim, the Eastsite business park has been growing for 16 years. The buildings have lots in common when it comes to aesthetics, but each one has special details - like Eastsite XII. 

In the Mannheim district of Neuostheim, a harmonious ensemble of unique buildings has been gathering since the turn of the millennium. In 2001, the City of Mannheim handed over planning of the business park to the motorplan planning office and Fischer Architekten architecture firm. 

The team designed buildings in a similar style to give a harmonious image, like planning most most buildings five floors high. Take a closer look at the details and you’ll see that each of the buildings added to the Eastsite plot gradually over 16 years is different: unique façade designs, differently arranged windows and various concrete colors give each building its own feel and meaning. 

“Despite the self-defined grammar, we tried to find a unique expression for each building. We achieved this through interpreting the requirements and the artistic concepts used as well as variations on the construction options,” say the architects. The team under Dominik Wirtgen chose sandwiched concrete elements for some of the commercial buildings at Eastsite, which were also used in the construction of Eastsite XII. 

The process involved partial construction, whereby the exterior shell and the whole embedment involved weight-bearing fiberglass textiles. This construction method avoids heat bridges and saves on materials. According to Wirtgen, this amounts to almost 75 percent less than a conventional reinforced slab. “The good insulation and the airtightness of these massive construction elements increase the impact of concrete core cooling in the in-situ concrete ceilings and interior walls,” say the architects.

For the façade, Fischer Architekten chose a design inspired by classic bas-reliefs: a leaf pattern, implemented as a flat relief, embellishes the pre-fabricated concrete panels. This was achieved using custom textured formliners from RECKLI. 

The façade panels at the base were poured smooth. Dreßler Bau pre-fab plant developed a mounting for the panels with unsecured PP fiber reinforcement to prevent breaks and cracks in the concrete panels. 

Due to the thin construction of the walls, it wasn’t possible to use a deep plastic façade texture. This did not comply with the architects’ self-imposed mission of conserving materials. For the team, the challenge was to realize a maximum 10mm relief in a 30mm facing. It quickly became clear that the deep, expansive embedment using negative production would weaken and potentially damage the element. This risk was avoided by using elastic formliners from RECKLI. 

They even allowed the architects to achieve an even thinner relief. On behalf of Fischer Architekten, the experts at RECKLI tried out various media for the positive model used to pour the formliner: wood, steel and plastic panels were tested to see how deep and detailed the leaf texture could be realized - in the end, the team opted for a 3D-printed foil. The relief is just 0.7mm deep. 

Finally, RECKLI optimized the design together with the architects so the formliners could be reused and a precise motif guaranteed. This reusability means that the architects also benefit financially. Eastsite XII was completed in 2018 and is now the headquarters of a globally active service provider in the healthcare and chemicals industry. 

Project: Eastsite XII office building
Location: Mannheim, Germany
Architect: Fischer Architekten
Concrete Design: RECKLI UNIQUE
Photos: Adrian Schulz

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