Thorsten Helbig on Engineering Cutting-Edge Facades

Knippers Helbig provided custom parametric modeling, full facade engineering service, and structural design for Massimiliano Fuskas' Shenzhen International Airport. (Courtesy Massimiliano Fuksas)

Knippers Helbig provided custom parametric modeling, full facade engineering service, and structural design for Massimiliano Fuskas’ Shenzhen International Airport. (Courtesy Massimiliano Fuksas)

As an engineer, Thorsten Helbig, co-founder of Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, has a unique perspective on facade design. “We conceptualize a facade as an integral part of a whole, as part of a larger system,” he explained. Helbig, who will deliver the morning keynote address at next month’s Facades+ NYC conference, identified two focal points. The first is the relationship of the building envelope to structure. The second is performance: “What can the facade offer back to the building?” Helbig asked

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South Korea’s Expo 2012 Pavilion: Active Facade Design

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Friday, June 1, 2012
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Elastic deformation of the pavilion's glass-fiber reinforced plastic lamellas gives its facade movement (Soma)

A 34,000-square-foot kinetic media facade represents the themes of Korea’s international exhibition

Opened last month in the coastal city of Yeosu, South Korea, the 2012 International Exhibition’s theme, “The Living Ocean and Coast,” is a way for attendees to examine challenges and solutions to development on oceans and coastlines. As the architect of the expo’s thematic pavilion, Vienna-based Soma Architecture designed a kinetic media facade to act as a counterpart to the show’s location by the water and to its multimedia presentations. Working with Stuttgart- and New York-based structural engineering firm Knippers Helbig as facade consultant, the team developed a constructible solution for building one of the largest adaptive structures in the world.

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