Oskar von Miller Forum Design Inspired by Technology

Among contemporary German architects Thomas Herzog is the pioneer in the field of sustainable building. His work and efforts have long been recognised on an international scale. His most recent example of energy-efficient architecture is the multifunctional Oskar von Miller Forum in the centre of Munich.

Oskar von Miller Forum Munich Oskar von Miller Forum Munich | Photo: Heinz Theuerkauf When German Architecture is frequently classified as Green Architecture, this has a lot to do with the work of the Munich-based architect Thomas Herzog. As one of the few German architects of international acclaim, Herzog has been committed to a new and future-proof modern architecture for forty years now. According to Herzog, besides the actual design and used material, a building must be based on sustainable technology and boast social responsibility in order for it to deliver authentically. Now even China appreciates the achievements of Thomas Herzog in renewable energy deployment and the use of wood as a sustainable commodity. Herzog has been teaching “Green Architecture” at Tsinghua University in Peking since 2003.

Status of building technology

Herzog also proved that structurally and energetically optimised designs are able to stand out with a distinctive architectural style. Especially for his large halls, Herzog likes to use the term “form follows performance”: the shape is based on the thermal and lighting requirements these buildings have to meet. Whereas previously Herzog integrated the energy systems in the “skin” of the building as elegantly as possible, in his most recent project he created the opposite effect: in the Oskar von Miller Forum in Munich Herzog specifically puts these systems on show on the facade and on the roof to demonstrate their function. This building exhibits the German state-of-the-art in building technology.
Oskar von Miller Forum Munich Oskar von Miller Forum Munich | Photo: Cassian Herzog The interests of the client, the purpose of the institution, the technical solutions and the appearance of the building all blend in perfect harmony. The Forum is an international meeting point that is aimed to support the university education of engineers in the field of construction at the Munich Technical University (TU München). It is an initiative of the Bavarian Construction Industry. On the one side the Forum houses a student’s hall of residence that extends over several floors and accommodates guests of many nationalities – here the client was particularly keen for the future engineers to encounter sustainable technology. On the other side the forum has several large rooms for various events. The functional core is the six-metre high hall on the ground floor of the main building. This is suitable for lectures and conferences as well as for exhibitions and festive events.

Enhanced urban development

The forum boasts a distinguished location between Munich’s old city and the university quarter. It features three elements that surround a well-designed inner courtyard. The main building faces south, towards the centre ring road called the Altstadtring. To create a buffer for exhaust fumes the student’s hall of residence has an unusual layout. Facing the road are the common living areas. From here the student’s rooms lead off to the north, looking out onto the quiet inner courtyard. The East Building includes the apartments for guest lecturers, that are situated above the in-house bistro-restaurant. The administration is accommodated in the West Building. This technically elegant building design significantly enhances the surrounding urban area.

Optimised structural and energetic design

Oskar von Miller Forum Munich, detail Oskar von Miller Forum Munich, detail | Photo: Verena Herzog-Loibl The Forum can be seen as the sum total of Thomas Herzog’s research work. The main supporting structure boasts an intelligent design of reinforced concrete that comprises minimised prefab structural elements that illustrate the flow of the load distribution. The main building is covered by an independent steel structure that cantilevers out from the top floor. In the south this steel structure supports the outer facade skin: a specially developed, outward-folding, glass double facade with shading and sound insulating functions. On the north side, escape balconies are suspended from the steel structure and rather resemble the shape of a harp. The glazing of the east stairway is louvered with silver-grey photovoltaic panels that protect it against excessive heat development during the summer months. The energy that is generated is fed into the main grid and distinguishes the building with a high level of energy production. The current “energy pass” specifies an extremely low value. This is also based on the optimised design of the heating, cooling, ventilation and insulation systems, also achieved through the installation of large solar thermal collectors on the roof, for example.

A further highlight is the artwork by Sabine Kammerl, Nikolaus Lang and Rainer Wittenborn. In the public areas of the Forum subtle and demanding artworks underscore the cultural dimension of engineering, thus making the ideas of art enthusiast, Thomas Herzog omnipresent in his building.