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Kap Europa, Frankfurt, Germany

Kap Europa is the first congress center in the world to have been awarded the platinum certificate for sustainable building. An important part: the concrete curtain.

Sleek shape meets a smart concept: The congress center Kap Europa has been supplementing the offer of the Frankfurt Messe fair grounds since 2014. Built in the Europe quarter in the direct vicinity of the shopping center Skyline Plaza, the building offers space across the four levels for conferences, conventions and events with up to 2,400 participants.

Just in time for the building’s opening in May 2014, the Kap Europa was awarded the gold certificate by the German Sustainable Building Council (DBNB). For the building owner and the planning companies CA Immo Deutschland and ECE Projektmanagement had considered the entire life cycle of the building in the planning and design – starting with the low-waste construction site up to the environmentally-friendly demolition concept. ‘A congress building that stands in a public space and is thus in the public eye, takes a particular model function regarding its environmentally and socially acceptable construction methods and operation. From the start, the goal of the Messe Frankfurt trade fair was to have one of the most sustainable congress centers in the world in terms of construction and the operational side’, explained Uwe Behm, Managing Director of the Messe-Frankfurt at the inauguration.

The selection of building materials already focused on environmental sustainability. The concrete core of the building supports its air conditioning and serves the night-time cooling. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide as much natural light as possible. A 1,000m2-large green roof positively impacts the CO2 balance. Intelligent lighting and building controls as well as energy-efficient technology serve to save energy. The building gets its power from a green power supplier. A commitment was made to use environmentally products even in matters dealing with building cleaning. Furthermore, the Kap Europa’s immediate proximity to public transport provides a great motivation to refrain from using a car. The numerous measures ultimately even had the great effect that the certification was raised from gold to platinum.

The great functionality and focus on sustainability did not even cause any compromises in terms of design, at that – quite the opposite. The building’s exterior is already sleek and elegant at the same time. The bright façade and the glass entrance area have a welcoming appearance. Floor-to-ceiling window façades and high ceilings provide an open, friendly atmosphere – rounded off with the view of Frankfurt’s skyline and various bar counters in the foyer areas.

An important part of the energy saving concept is the concrete cube in the interior, which also serves the night-time cooling, among other things. Visitors reach the meeting and convention rooms by traversing it. In order to make this entrance area as light and inviting as possible, the decision was made to stick with an unobtrusive exposed concrete design with a pattern: in parts, the core’s façade is fitted with a 40-mm thick grain, that presents a curtain. The pattern was designed in cooperation with ECE Projektmanagement. The exposed concrete experts delivered the molds with a curtain pattern to the precast company Hering, which manufactured the concrete element. The concrete core designed that way is a significant individual design property of the building. The skilled arrangement of beautiful shapes and energetic functions were distinguished with an Iconic Award in the product category.