Integral design: free geometry, hybrid construction

In this presentation the description of two principal façade elements of one of the most interesting buildings in these days – the new Swatch Headquarter in Switzerland – shall lead to a principle reflection about constructional integration. The elements are made of wooden frames, ETFE foils, polycarbonate plates, triplelayer glass and cold bended glass. Differential and integrated constructions are not in concurrence. Looking at them from a theoretical point of view they depend on each other in a circular alteration.

The integrated construction can be identified by its values of the result compared to an addition of the characteristics of the independent elements. Integration means to gain value.

“Simple additions/stratification” describes a differential approach. The features of the single elements are added, not yet integrated. We are looking at problems in a differential way as long as we don’t understand them in its totality. This often correlates with functional innovations demanding narrow border conditions.

The sister and brother of integration are digitalization and modularization. Complexity demands on better planning tools and a better information chain between the computer model and the production facility. And in the case of this project, complexity demands for quality, quality of prefabrication and modularization.