Facade System

Fiberline Composites and Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Fiberline, Middelfart Se kort

By Charlotte Jul, skribent, editor and curator, 2006

Light as a condition of life 

We are fascinated by glass and transparency. It lets us look in and out. But best of all it lets in the light. Imagine a building made of a material that becomes transparent when hit by light. Or whole glass facades where the frames become invisible ... 

Practical challenge 

Since the construction of the first skyscraper in Chicago in 1885, glass and steel facades came to serve as models for the Bauhaus movement in Germany and Le Corbusier in France, among others. At the same time, the combination of glass and steel also posed a practical challenge, because it tends to turn cold or burning hot according to the temperature. Today, double and triple glazing have solved the problems of insulation. 

Major improvement 

The Fiberline Facade System consists of window frames constructed in a new composite material. GRP composite is made up of glass filaments and polyester mixed to slightly resemble wood. When backlighted it reveals long glass filaments like veins in a piece of wood. Researchers have been testing the material for several years. Buildings with composite window frames have better insulation properties and much lower energy consumption. The Fiberline Facade System also lets more light into the building, because the frames are thinner than usual and become translucent in sunlight. A practical feature in Scandinavia where we have so little natural light in the winter months. 

Strong and brittle glass 

Glass is strong, yet brittle. By applying glass filaments, you get the glass to work with the glass in frames and windows, which is an advantage, since heat makes glass expand and cold makes it contract. The Fiberline Facade System thus achieves three objectives at once: beauty, increased durability and better insulation. 
You will be able to see the Fiberline Facade System for yourself when the new sports and activity centre in Birkeroed, north of Copenhagen, is finished in 2007. 

Facade system seen on building. ©Fiberline Composites.
Glass facade components. ©Fiberline Composites.

Did you know?

There is almost no limit to what one can build with the composite material in which the facade system is constructed. At Danfoss on Als it is used to make a huge "metal shavings" of 3.5 meters in height and 14 meters in depth, which at the same time is used as a counter in the reception building. Like the facade system, the sculpture is made in a collaboration between Fiberline Composites and Schmidt Hammer Lassen.

The committee's justification

By the Committee for Design and Arts, 2006

Can you canonize a prototype? Maybe. The decisive factor for the design canon is that it points to the wider world rather than back to Denmark. And maybe you need to take a risk to make it happen. In association with Fiberline, architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Stuttgart University, we are developing a fibreglass facade system that offers completely new sensory possibilities. The detail in the facade connects the interior and exterior. And the facade protects us from both heat and cold. 

A hundred years ago, a facade was a part of the masonry and construction process, where a mason took care of the load-bearing structure, and carpenters and joiners filled in the gaps. This was in keeping with the process that had been used for 100 years, even though both brick production and carpentry/joinery work was largely industrialized. Not much thought was given to how new materials and forms of production could change the appearance of the buildings. Le Corbusier in France and Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in Germany made people aware of the great change that had taken place and introduced lightweight facades that offered many new opportunities, both spatially and economically. Fiberline’s facade system does a lot: It is energy efficient, durable and approved for use. But it also expresses a new kind of beauty and an old dream. Its translucent profiles bring us even closer to the dream of a light and bright facade that allows the outside world into the house.


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