PRESS RELEASE | UNStudio designs one of the most sustainable office buildings in Germany

UNStudio’s design proposal for NION, a 45,000 m2 state-of-the-art office tower in the Europaviertel in Frankfurt, was recently selected by Groß & Partner for further development.

  • NION will be one of the most sustainable office buildings in Germany.
  • Overall concept breaks new, sustainable ground both technically and architecturally.
  • Incorporates ESG objectives and highly efficient, resource-saving technology.

NION is located in the Europaviertel West, at the interface to the Europaviertel East. This lively hybrid city district, which combines residential, work and recreational facilities, has been in continual development since 2005.

Uncompromising sustainability

A comprehensive sustainability and ESG approach for NION has been at the forefront from the beginning“ states Jürgen Groß, managing director of Groß & Partner. “The tower will offer great added value to its surroundings, not only in terms of design, but above all climatically and ecologically

The sustainable concept for NION focuses on both environmental and social sustainability. Alongside intensive greening throughout, DGNB Platinum Certified NION employs a low-carbon load-bearing structure. Prefabricated components will be used in construction, alongside a modular supporting structure. The design further focuses on the use of sustainable, recyclable and circular construction materials. Spatial efficiency and future-proofing are achieved through the use of flexible floor plans.

The sustainable concept for NION further responds intelligently to the weather and actual demand. It incorporates a photovoltaic facade, rainwater management, geothermal heating and cooling (30%-40% cooling / 70% heating), smart building management, demand-based air conditioning and LED lighting, energy recuperating elevators, e-charging stations with intelligent load management and green and open work environments. Solar gain is minimised by way of a 50% closed facade.

NION is also designed to be socially sustainable, with specific programming that encourages, communication, gathering and knowledge sharing. Additionally, semi-public use is incorporated by way of dining establishments, a bakery and a café on the ground and first upper floor, alongside the inclusion of partially public urban space in front of the base building.

Intensive greening

Alongside passive design strategies and state of the art building technology, greening plays a large role in the design of NION.

As an integral part of the Europa-Allee urban green corridor, the site is intended to be a vehicle for greenery and biodiversity, bringing ecological benefits to the environment, while improving the microclimate and contributing to the well-being of visitors and users of the building. To this end, UNStudio collaborated with OKRA landscape architects in optimising the design as integral part of Frankfurt’s green network.

The structure consists of two intersecting volumes, where the northwest and southeast corners are cut away to create a striking vertical effect, emphasised by lush greenery.

The cubature responds to the proximity of surrounding buildings and to NION’s prominent position next to the park, by way of angled facade surfaces that contrast dynamically with the cut-out corners. These cut-outs taper from the seven storey base building, picking up the lines of the surrounding perimeter block development and unifying the different urban scales. The vertical intersection of the inner corner on the northwest side also divides the building into tower and podium, giving the building a more slender appearance.

While the green corners of the building create a striking focal point on the route into downtown Frankfurt, the wide facade elevations are structured by light and dark elements to create differentiation within the volume.

While the vertical green in the external articulation anchors NION within the cityscape, further greening plays an important role throughout the project. From the green lobby, to the semi-public interior space in the base, to the green zones in the office floors, which are combined with green terraces and roof gardens. All of the spaces in NION are designed to enhance the working climate and create an exciting relationship between interior and exterior.

UNStudio is also currently working with Groß & Partner on the currently under construction FOUR project in Frankfurt, one of the most dense inner-city developments in Europe.

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Credits (competition phase)

UNStudio:
Ben van Berkel with Tina Kortmann and Stelina Tsifti, Ignacio Andres Mejia Zubillaga, Verena Lihl, Lourenco Vaz Pinto, Cristina Bolis, Ka Shin Liu, Martina Karner, Stijn Tonen, Konstantinos Chryssos, Tiia Vahula, Astrid Piber, Patrik Noome

Advisors (competition phase):
Landscape: OKRA Landschapsarchitecten BV
Structure and Facade: Bollinger+Grohmann
MEP and Energy: KBP Ingenieure GmbH
Fire Protection: HHP Berlin
Local Support: Hochform Architekten Frankfurt
CGI visualisations: MOARE