Aerogel Architecture Award 2021
Historical buildings – thermally insulated to current state
Conversion of an old industrial building
Biedermeier and Socialist Modernism
Because of the very close ranking, the jury decided not to award a third prize, but to award second prize twice.
One of the awards went to architect Verena Klar, who proposed an energy efficiency design of a listed Biedermeier house in Tübingen dating from 1829 to make it more energy-efficient. The house is located on Neckarhalde in Tübingen, in the middle of a listed urban ensemble. The exterior façade had been left largely unchanged, so the aim was to build up the thermal insulation as slimly as possible so as not to cover up the appearance of the house and also the ornamentation on the façade and window reveals. "The client was quickly convinced, but the historic preservation authority remained skeptical for a long time" reported the architect. Finally, the authority was convinced with the help of several successful aerogel renovation projects from Switzerland. The craftsmen were enthusiastic about the easy workability of the aerogel plaster.
Insulated all around
A difficult case in Weimar
Another second prize went to architect Jörg Hofmann from Weimar, who designed a renovation of a building at the Bauhaus University in Weimar to make it more energy-efficient. The research building had been erected in 1958 and is considered an outstanding example of Socialist Modernism; it is a listed building. The poorly insulated facade showed severe weathering damage, and the building also had to be renovated while it was still in use. Interior thermal insulation was not feasible because it could have damaged expensive research equipment. In Weimar, too, the historic preservation authority demanded a plaster finish in keeping with the original structure: the building's plinth cladding and eaves profile of concrete blocks were not to be overarched.
Architect Jörg Hofmann began researching, found the aerogel insulating plaster and first tried it out on his own house. The now completed renovated research building of the Bauhaus University has kept its face, and the requirements of the monument protection authority have been met. The U-value of the walls was nevertheless reduced from 1.36 W/m2K to 0.58 W/m2K, and the dew point of the facade and the existing component connections was also optimized.
Aerogel Architecture Award
The Aerogel Architecture Award was launched in 2020 by Empa and the industry partners Fixit, Agitec, Haga AG Naturbaustoffe and Hasit and the AdvaPor association. For the 2021 elimination, five offices from Germany, Austria and Switzerland had submitted their projects. A jury consisting of the four architects and monument conservation experts Ralf Kilian (Germany), Beat Kämpfen (Switzerland), Volker Herzog (Germany) and Manfred Wehdorn (Austria) evaluated the submitted projects with regard to their monument conservation value, energy efficiency and the originality of the chosen solution.
According to current plans, there will be further Aerogel Architecture Awards in the coming years. "The award should help to make the possibilities offered by aerogel insulation materials in monument protection and refurbishment of existing buildings widely known in the architectural and civil engeneering scene," says Michal Ganobjak, the organizer of the award ceremony.
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