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High-quality solar glass surface on the Radisson SAS Hotel in Frankfurt
© The Rezidor Hotel Group
Building for the future

April 04, 2008

Germany is the land of ideas, the land of innovation. Architecture and building technologies lead in experiments with pioneering concepts. New materials make it possible to realise architects’ ingenious ideas. And the German Federal government supports industrial innovators under its High-Tech Strategy.

Titanium is the material of which dreams are made. The international architecture scene has been enthusing about it ever since its first use – Californian star architect Frank O. Gehry used the metal in the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Although dark grey in its natural state, titanium shimmers blue or red depending on the weather conditions. The precious metal, which has been used for jewellery, in space travel and
for medical implants, is more heat-resis-tant than aluminium, harder than steel and yet only half the weight. Titanium does not rust and endures for ever – at least, for as long as the concrete beneath it. This building material is meanwhile used world-wide, for example in the extension of the art museum in Denver or the new opera house in Peking. In 2004, in Kronberg near Frankfurt, the first building was completed with a titanium façade. The material was supplied by Deutsche Titan, a ThyssenKrupp subsidiary that operates one of only three titanium plants in
Europe and has since been relying on the growth market architecture.

The large-scale use of “organic photovoltaics” in the construction industry, on the other hand, is still very much a thing of the future. However, German companies like BASF, Bosch, Merck and Schott are working together at full steam to achieve mass-producible transparent membranes that can transform light into energy and, unlike existing rigid photovoltaic technologies, can be curved, rolled and bent round corners. Attached to roofs, windows and façades, high-rise buildings in particular could unobtrusively become substantial power stations. The German federal government is supporting the industrial partners with 60 million euros within the framework of its High-Tech Strategy. It is aimed to achieve a breakthrough by 2015.



© Deutschland magazine
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