Munich-based architects OIKOS just finished their Davos Hotel in in Switzerland, which features an innovative oval façade that was deemed “unbuildable” by experts. Using digital modeling and parametrization techniques, the architects developed a façade system that features 791 three dimensional, curving steel spandrel panel elements and more than 62,000 individual envelope pieces.
Located amidst the subalpine forests of Davos, the InterContinental Davos Hotel is an oval-shaped building wrapped in an envelope that reflects the magnificent natural surroundings. Inspired by pine cones, the architects decided to create a façade that would have similar overlapping elements. The design turned out to be a daunting task, however, that required tacking several complex structural issues.
In order to optimize the design and make it buildable, OIKOS partnered with structural engineering firm Wilhelm+Partner, which specializes in extraordinary façade designs. The team decided to use steel instead of aluminum and developed a design for the laser-cut primary and secondary ribs based on a square. The 3D curvature was achieved through the use of a supporting structure. Only 3mm-thick sheet steel plates with champagne-colored metallic coating cover the frame and form the visible surface of the facade.
More than 62,000 individual pieces were used to build the envelope and were managed by automated procedures and fabrication techniques. Although each of the spandrel panels is unique, they all have identical, square, steel rib construction that allowed for a more economical fabrication. They were manufactured in a plant in Plzeň in the Czech Republic and transported to Davos to be assembled on site. Despite the complexity of the design, the entire project took only two years to buid.