The new E.ON Energy Research Department Building at RWTH University in Aachen occupies a site defined by existing rail tracks and a 4-lane arterial road. Our concept translates the direction and contours of this site as a primary form generator for the building.
Structure and form correlate closely with movement through and around the structure; with the natural daylight and airflow across the site. Structural and aerodynamic fins on the roof serve to modulate daylight and wind, maximising the provision of natural light and ventilation of the building interior.
A long integrated landscaped path guides people to the main entrance. From here a central corridor moves inside, forming a passage. A separate path bifurcates, running parallel and descending to a lower entrance beneath. The internal passage defines a circular academic band of theory on two levels and an internal practical pocket with laboratories on entrance level: the west facing the open green and entry to the site, the east located seminar and meeting rooms facing the train tracks.
At the far northerly corner of the building, the roof envelope rises, marking a turning point of the internal passage. The 3-storey open gallery, with staircases at each end and a middle ramp, forms a circulation loop, generating diverse and constant fluency of movement over all levels between the practical and academic volumes.
Symbiotically, Architecture and Energy determine and complement one another. Components have more than one function, performing and multitasking as hybrid forms. Each component is dimensioned and optimised by thermal, lighting and airflow-mechanical simulations. By using regenerative energies, the reduced demand of energy can be more than covered. With it, the new Institute produces more energy than it consumes.