SWISSPACER: successful refurbishment of Academy of Fine Arts

Heritage conservation requirements often make the refurbishment of buildings that no longer meet contemporary standards a challenge, as in the case of the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Germany, considered to be an icon of modern post-war architecture: the appropriate renewal of its window façades was supported by using a warm edge spacer bar from SWISSPACER

The roaring of lions or the screaming of monkeys can sometimes be heard in the distance. In close proximity to the zoo, set in woodland on the eastern edge of the city, is a true gem for students of art: the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg, is Germany’s oldest art university.

Sep Ruf, regarded as an important representative of modern post-war architecture in Germany, took part in a competition in 1950 to build the new academy and emerged the winner. On the basis of his design, a single-storey complex of pavilions, which are connected to each other via open arcades, was built on Bingstrasse. The pavilions accommodate studios, workshops and central facilities such as a library, canteen and administrative offices. They are arranged around greened courtyards and open spaces that can also be used for artistic work by the students.

The large windows caused an uncomfortable indoor climate in winter – Photo:

Each of the buildings has a view of the surrounding forest and green spaces on the site, a view so generous that the transitions between indoors and outdoors blend into each other. The visual lightness, minimal constructions, full-height glazed walls and slimline roofs are characteristic of the structures, which were listed as a cultural heritage site in 1988.

The new glass façade elements were to match the existing windows in terms of their dimensions and profile sizes. Saint-Gobain double glazing with Planitherm XN ensures high light transmission and increased thermal insulation – Photo:

As the years went by, however, difficulties were presented by various aspects of the buildings, including the large windows. During the winter months in particular, they created an unpleasant indoor climate and extremely high heating costs. The first step to counter this was successfully completed in 2020 with the necessary refurbishment of Pavilion 1.

Façade refurbishment and heritage conservation
The measures, which included the modernisation of the entire building technology, also involved the renovation of the steel and glass façades. The single glazing in the courtyard façades was also replaced with double-glazing units. “Our objective was to improve the energy performance of the building envelope, taking into account its heritage status,” explains Swantje Schröder, head of department at the State Building Authority for Erlangen-Nuremberg. “The new façades were also to match the existing windows in terms of their dimensions and profile sizes. This was the prerequisite for replacing the façades of the heritage listed building.”

In order to comply with the requirements of heritage conservation and to better insulate the rooms, the warm edge spacer bar SWISSPACER Ultimate was used –

Achieving the installation depth of the original elements of 80 mm required a large gap between the panes and thus an unusually sized warm edge spacer bar for the customised façade elements. It was to be 36 mm wide and white. The research for a suitable product ultimately led the planners to the Swiss manufacturer SWISSPACER: the company’s warm edge spacer bar SWISSPACER ULTIMATE is also available in the required width of 36 mm. It delivers a high degree of aesthetics and ensures excellent thermal insulation in the transitional area from glass to frame. An important advantage is its especially low thermal conductivity. The required uniform appearance can be obtained through the use of components certified by the Passive House Institute.

The company Saint-Gobain Glassolutions Objekt-Center in Radeburg manufactured the glass façade elements to fit perfectly by using the highly efficient warm edge spacer bar. The appearance of the structures remains authentic and the building is assured of optimised thermal insulation and thus lower energy costs in the long term.

The revision of other buildings on the site is planned to commence in 2021.

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