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Hainburg church roof

Project details

Steel Innovation Award 2012

Category "Component and systems made of steel for building"

Free-form cloud roof

Roofing of the Martin Luther Church in Hainburg

Düsseldorf, 27 June 2012 – The roofing of the Martin Luther Church in the Austrian town of Hainburg, built by Stralsund-based company Ostseestaal, was awarded the Steel Innovation Award 2012. This is the first free-form steel roof of this size in which the welded steel sheets are both part of the building's exterior and the load-bearing system.

At the exact spot where a church had stood until the 17th century in the centre of Hainburg, the Protestant Martin Luther Church was erected with a church service room, parish hall and other utility rooms. The building blends into the grown small-town environment, accommodates for alignments and dimensions and yet is quite different from the neighbouring residential buildings of the Lower Austrian municipality. Wolf D. Prix, the Hainburg-born owner of the architectural office Coop Himmelb(l)au, designed the new church for his hometown.

The key element of the ensemble of sculptural bell tower and building wing is the so-called "cloud roof" above the prayer room. Its design was developed from the curved roof shape of a neighbouring Romanesque carnival. The geometry of the centuries-old building was transferred into a contemporary form. With its free-form and three large light-giving "volcanoes", the shimmering roof symbolises the Holy Trinity, the dogma of the Christian faith.

The Ostseestaal company, a shipyard supplier and specialist in the manufacture of three-dimensionally formed steel sheets, manufactured the steel roof at its Stralsund plant. This was preceded by extensive calculations of the approximately ten-metre by ten-metre construction by structural engineer, Bollinger Grohmann Schneider. Using the company's own 3D design software, the Ostseestaal engineers determined the exact development of the free-form surface for plasma cutting in a flat contour. Due to the tight radius curves and the counter-rotating shapes, eight-millimetre-thick steel sheets had to be divided into sheets measuring approximately one square metre before experienced formers were able to shape the segments into the desired shape using semi-automatic hydraulic presses.

The 264 sheet metal panels welded together, in combination with the welded-on primary and secondary frames, function as compression belts, and the profile girders attached to the frames function as tension belts. The advantage: the entire sheet steel shell is part of the load-bearing construction.

The construction, divided into three segments, travelled on low-loaders 1,000 kilometres southwards to its final destination. At icy temperatures of minus 15 degrees Celsius, the units were welded together to form a single component. The silver-coloured top coat was applied after the 28-tonne roof had been lifted onto the building.

The roof is the first free-form steel roof of this size in which the welded steel sheets are both part of the building's exterior and the load-bearing system. This is made possible by new methods of digital surface generation and the technology of three-dimensional cold forming of even thicker steel sheets. This opens up new design scope for the development of extravagant roofing and façade structures.


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