Project: Porsche Pavilion @ Autostadt in Wolfsburg
Architect/Designer: Henn Architekten
Featured material: Metal
At first glance, the Porsche Pavilion designed by Henn Architekten might appear to be made out of concrete or covered with fine delicate plaster. It is surprisingly deceiving by images showing no reflective appearance typical of metal cladding surfaces. And perhaps the experiential appearance in person could only be interrupted by touching the building’s surface. Visually it is the closest metal pavilion that resembles concrete construction or plaster adobe exterior. But yes, it is made out of a total of 620 sheets of stainless steel cladding with welded metal ribs prefabricated in a ship-yard. The shape was intended to resemble the typical side profile of what makes Porsche vehicles stand out from any other car brand. Thus, the building was in part made using the same fabrication techniques currently used in their vehicles, however, the structural composition had to be made at a ship-yard located in Stralsund (aprox. 4 hours away by car from the site’s location) due to its large scale. Now, the comparative notion of the project’s actual material composition brings an interesting yet contrasting notion of their use within the construction industry and their environmental implications. In one hand, the production of concrete (cement) counts for up to 7% of the global CO2 emissions which is approximately 2.5 billion tons of cement production annually. On the other hand, steel production counts for up to 5% of the global CO2 emissions with an approximate yearly amount of 1.5 billion tons. Already by these facts, concrete production environmental implications are not so much different than steel production. Thus, Henn’s pavilions is made out of sheets of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% to 11% of chromium content by mass. The main difference between cement and stainless steel lies in their recycling properties. In contrast to concrete, stainless steel is 100% recyclable. Currently, there are not feasible recycling procedures for concrete just yet. There are potential procedures being tested in Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, Germany, thru a process called electrodynamic fragmentation. Mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, this process separates concrete into its different components using a pulsed power processing which is extremely energy intensive. Notwithstanding, it’s industry implementation might take years and further testing. Consequently, with all its beauty and admirable craftsmanship, the Porsche pavilion cladding surface could be completely recyclable at its scheduled demolition. So does this makes it any better than being built out of concrete? perhaps, for now.
· light weight
· resistance to corrosion and staining