BUILD - Architecture Awards 2017

2017 Architecture Awards Build that its products can provide breath-taking solutions but also guarantee the safety of clients and customers. “In the realm of zoo and aviary enclosures our technology allows breath- taking solutions and takes into account thoughtful design that enhances the environment for the animals it is meant to protect. For example, among the already realised 280 enclosures Officium has in its portfolio, the highly successful installation at the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart involved imagining the steel support columns for the mesh as not only structural elements, but as integral “trees”, creatively providing bonobos with opportunities to nest, swing, jump and climb. In this way, our zoo projects are not simply intended to provide a safe enclosure for their inhabitants, but a creative one that is responsive to their needs. We have had a hand in designing habitats for a wide range of species with very diverse living requirements, behaviours, and safety concerns; Orangutans, tigers, bonobos and other apes, birds of all kinds…every size and shape of creature one can imagine. “In close cooperation with zoo directors, zookeepers, landscape architects and other professionals we strive to generate solutions that take into account the quality of the environment and the experience for both the animals and their visitors. We undertake testing as required to consider the safety of all involved, ensuring the structures will stand the test of time when subjected to wind, ice, snow, plants and even animal loads. Our goal is to keep the natural habitat in the foreground and create a secure environment for the animals through a transparent, unobtrusive structure that provides visitors with a rewarding experience.” Following on from the issue of safety, Thomas observes that transparency is also a much-desired characteristic of architectural design today. Structures must be safe but it is also vital that views are not impeded. Thomas uses the Golden Gate Bridge and his firm’s design as an example of a safe but transparent structure. “Safety is a big issue in the world of architecture, but also transparency. Tensile mesh structures fulfil these requirements and also provide solutions that are lightweight. The prime example is our design for the suicide deterrent system now being installed on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Horizontal mesh nets are being installed along the entire length of the bridge to prevent people from taking their lives. The mesh provides a perfect answer – it is visible from the car deck so it functions as a visual deterrent, it’s lightweight enough to not transmit unreasonable loads to the original bridge structure, and it’s transparent enough that it doesn’t impede views to or from the bridge or detract from the bridge’s historic and iconic look. “New impulses in the industry have evolved with our walkable nets. Clients are increasingly looking for interactive mesh solutions for the fun and leisure industry and art installations. In collaboration with the artist, Tomás Saraceno, we created the inspired “In Orbit” installation at Kunstsammlung in Düsseldorf, Germany. Visitors are treated to a wholly unique experience, clambering 75’-0” above the inner court of the building and relaxing among transparent bubbles. Dreaming and play made possible among undulating nets affixed to the building structure.” Noting how adaptive the firm is, Thomas is keen to point out that the company’s engineers make use of the latest software and only work with the highest quality suppliers of stainless steel mesh. Alongside this, there is a notable effort from the company to be environmentally friendly and they have undertaken many green projects, as Thomas explains. “Our engineering makes use of the latest top-of-the-line three-dimensional analysis software and we work with only the highest quality suppliers of stainless steel mesh, cables and fittings. Stainless steel offers great advantages in strength and durability, maintenance and sustainability. Our work even lies at the foundation of numerous green projects where building facades use the mesh as a substrate to support the growth of vining plants on their surface – cooling the building, offering a beautiful visual component, and creating an opportunity to lower our impact on the planet.” Regarding the future of the firm, Thomas fills us in on how the company is looking to expand in Asia and North America, whilst upholding its sterling reputation in Europe. The firm has always been active globally but is really looking to capitalise on its recent success. Projects are becoming more international but with the innovative minds at the top of the firm, Officium has a bright future ahead as it looks to continue to deliver the best project every single time. “Officium has always been active globally in designing high-impact tensile structures and our reach has extended to five continents. We are expanding our engagement with partners in Asia as well as building our portfolio in North America while maintaining a solid foundation in Europe. With offices in Stuttgart and Chicago, our ability to respond to our clients’ needs with flexibility, speed, and a personal touch will remain our focus. “Looking ahead, we see a sharp increase in the internationalization of projects, with teams from around the globe coming together to deliver the highest degree of service. Each team brings their strengths and specialization to the table, so partnership and electronic coordination will be key to the success of our work. The best materials, the best tools, and the best minds deliver the best project every time. That is our commitment and our legacy.”