Sculptural Crystal created from 850 m2 of Solid Surface Material


The 114 meter-tall HVB Tower in Munich, which is protected by conservation of historic monuments regulations, was transformed by the architecture office HENN into a climate-efficient “green building.” In the foyer, a gigantic "crystal" made of solid surface material, now reaches over three stories upward. The crystal also functions as balustrade and a spatial separator to the space in the middle of the building. What appears to be a massive single object poured into a single casting is, instead, approximately 850 square meters of solid surface material formed from 500 individual parts that are carefully assembled with millimetre precision, attached together, bonded and then smoothed. Rosskopf + Partner was contracted to complete the production and assembly of the cladding.

The visible surface of the impressive sculpture is composed of white solid surface material, which is attached to a sub-structure of steel, aluminium, and elements of gypsum fibre. Arnold AG from Friedrichsdorf was responsible for the fabrication and assembly of the steel and aluminium components. For the remaining work, the metal processing specialist contracted Rosskopf + Partner to process the outer covering using solid surface material.

At Rosskopf + Partner’s facility in Hennersdorf (Augustusburg) in Saxony, our competence centre for solid surface materials processed nearly 850 square meters of the modern surface material. The result was the fabrication of approximately 500 separate parts, which were then assembled by a team of five technicians directly on the construction site in the tower itself. The individual pieces had to be assembled with millimetre precision, attached together, glued and then finely sanded to a smooth finish. "This work requires absolute precise performance," explained Sebastian Koehler, the project manager at Rosskopf + Partner. "Since the crystal oscillates from the floor to the ceiling of each of the stories and then protrudes into the atrium, in some sections the assembly was really quite tricky."

The prerequisite for the accurate fitting and elegant surface cladding was exact planning, delivery and alignment of the primary and secondary sub-construction materials. For the total execution plan to create the 36-ton crystal object, HENN architects requested the assistance of 5D Engineering in Dresden in cooperation with Arnd AG. “It was a complex task” said the Managing Director of 5D Engineering, Michael Schob. He added: "Especially the geothermal characteristics of the crystal kept us in suspense.” In addition to the sharp angles and corners which had to match perfectly, there are almost no parallel surfaces at all. In fact, all of the surfaces are positioned at different angles to each other, and there are very few identical structural components.

In this project, the architects made a deliberate decision to use the compound material made of approximately 75% natural minerals, acrylic material and colour pigments. The solid surface material can be bonded without any visible joints so that the crystal object, which reaches over the entire room space, appears as if it were cast from a single mould. Because of this, its smooth, pore-free surface not only provides the material with a high-quality visual appearance and a warm-to-the-touch haptic sensation, but it is also extremely hygienic and easy to clean. Dirt can be removed quite simply with water or a mild detergent. If signs of wear should appear after prolonged use, they can be removed easily by polishing. Therefore, solid surface material is ideal for use in heavily-trafficked office and working environments that must remain attractive and inviting for many years.  To top it off, solid surface material is extremely flame-resistant according to DIN 4102-1 B1 and corresponds to the strict technical fire protection requirements in the HVB Tower.

Construction Board

Design: HENN Architects
Material: Solid Surface Material HI-MACS®
Location: Munich, Germany
Period: 2016
Photography: HG Esch Photography