New Roofs Above Gates of Exhibition Grounds in Frankfurt, Germany
Digital Planning and Structural Analysis
Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Messe Frankfurt, Germany
In 2008, the German company Messe Frankfurt organized an architectural competition for planning the redesign of the northern and southern gates leading to the exhibition center. The target was to design a guardhouse and a roof for each gate. The building owner wished the roofs to be developed as extraordinary structures with high recognition value.
The winning designer was the German architect Ingo Schrader from Berlin, who worked closely together with the German structural engineers Bollinger + Grohmann. The draft included circular roofs with a diameter of about 82 ft supported by pyramid shaped columns. In August 2013, the roof construction was finished on the northern gate.
Roof Structure for Northern Gate
In the course of further planning, the circular shape became an oval because of the adaption to the local conditions. Its size is 138 ft x 59 ft with a maximum lamella depth of 23 5⁄8 in. The roof cantilevers up to 33 ft and is only 62 13⁄64 in thick on its edge.
The four columns are placed in an irregular grid. Their pyramidal shapes visually represent the downward force distribution in the columns. Due to their triangular shape, they appear particularly slim and the roof has the illusion that it is floating.
The roof supporting structure was generated and optimized by means of a computational model. One may have the impression that the axes of the load-bearing lamellas are randomly arranged. But their arrangement is the result of a computer-based design process where structural, formal and manufacturing boundary conditions were brought in line.
Then, the lamellas were optimized in their height and width. In this optimization process, RSTAB was connected with the design program Rhinoceros by using an individually created VBA script. A special algorithm reduced iteratively the cross‑section dimension of the flat steel lamellas on the basis of the occurring equivalent stresses.
Program Used for Structural Analysis
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