Recently, UNStudio’s designs for NION, an office building in Germany, were selected for further development and construction. The building uses a multifaceted sustainable design strategy that features its own microclimate, incorporates efficiently-designed spaces, harnesses passive systems and encourages social interaction.

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Office block with lots of greenery on the balconies and within the area

The site is located in Europaviertel West, a lively district of Frankfurt, which has been continually growing since its establishment in 2005. NION is carefully woven into the developing urban fabric. The area forms a part of the Europa-Allee urban green corridor and, therefore, vegetation is a key component of the design. Lush greenery on the interior and exterior of the building, including green zones within the commercial spaces and lush green terraces and roof gardens, create a calming, healthy work environment that boosts occupant well-being. These spaces also create a microclimate and serve as a means to enhance biodiversity in the area.

Related: Biophilic design helps this office building breathe

Diagram indicating the building components and surrounding context

The building is made of two intersecting volumes with cutout corners that are joined by a vertical green ribbon. On one side, the building’s tall modern appearance matches that of other commercial spaces in the area. Meanwhile, the other side is adjacent to the park and boasts terraces teeming with greenery. The vertical green ribbon unites the two building volumes and reinforces a connection to the environment. Furthermore, the two different-sized forms create connections between the various building scales present in the urban context.

Side view of the building showcasing its green facade as seen from the street level

One of UNStudio’s key considerations is a thorough, well-designed and sustainable environment. This encompasses all aspects of the building from its structure to interior design. For example, its low-carbon, load-bearing structure features pre-fabricated modular components for ease of construction and environmental awareness. Additionally, flexible floor plans allow occupants to maximize the interior space. The designers also incorporated sustainable, recyclable, and circular building materials for furniture and finishes.

View of the office building and its green facade from the street level at sunset

To support its sustainable design, NION features state-of-the-art technology. This includes the photovoltaic facade which generates energy and the green facade which fosters biodiversity through its microclimate. The building also makes use of environmental resources through rainwater catchment systems and geothermal heating and cooling. Alongside the passive systems in place, fixtures and equipment within the building are also eco-friendly. NION uses energy-recuperating elevators, LED lighting and demand-based air conditioning systems to optimize energy consumption.

Interior rendering of public space with lots of people and vegetation occupying the space

Besides a focus on environmental design, the commercial space caters to social sustainability by encouraging human interaction and the sharing of knowledge. This is the case for the various collaborative and communal spaces throughout the building, but especially the semi-public spaces on the ground and upper first floor that facilitate gathering and foster community.

Overall, the building strikes a balance between environmental and social sustainability. Its plethora of efficient, eco-friendly and human-focused design strategies make the building conducive for work and interaction. Its holistic approach to enhancing occupant wellbeing and biodiversity through sustainable strategies will make it one of Germany’s most sustainable commercial spaces upon completion.

+ UNStudio

Images via UNStudio