Foresight pays off

Darmstadt University Campus

In the 1960s the University of Darmstadt‘s new campus was designed with the foresight to use flexible modular type construction methods that deployed galvanized steel frames.

Darmstadt-University-Campus-4The University of Darmstadt has several locations, one of which is today‘s Campus Lichtwiese, built in the late 1960s. Within the first phase, seven steel frame buildings were constructed in lightweight galvanized steel for the Department of Civil Engineering between 1968 to 1970.

The halls were part of the so-called Darmstadt construction system, which was developed in order to complete the new campus within an allocated time period. Requirements for the prefabricated construction system included: flexibility, economy through use of standardized modules, rapid construction times and a stipulation not to have an overly prescribed design ethos.

Since most of the buildings would incorporate experimental labs for students, a simple frame structure became an appropriate starting point. Steel was chosen as the most suitable construction material that met the requirements of the design brief and it was decided that the labs would share a similar footprint. Seven buildings with a Mero spaceframe for the roof which is mounted on four solid welded box profiles and intervening rectangular hollow profile supports were completed.

All steel components, including the crane runways, were hot dip galvanized. A recent inspection by a specialist engineer from the Institute Feuverzinken in July 2017 was conducted, it included extensive measurements of the galvanized coating as well as a visual check of the steelwork.

Darmstadt-University-Campus-3

Coating thicknesses between 475 and 560 microns were measured on the welded main supports. On the supports of rectangular hollow sections, coating thicknesses of 160 to 170μm were determined. The visual check revealed no signs of corrosion.

The far-sighted use of a flexible design system and the use of galvanizing has paid off for Darmstadt University. Maintenance costs have been avoided over the last 50 years with at least another 50 years of maintenance free. If an organic coating of the steel components had been used, it would be highly probable that renewal work would have been required even if it was for purely cosmetic purposes leading to consequential costs and disruption of the university’s daily activities.

Order a Free Copy of the Hot Dip Galvanizing Magazine

Image: Institut Feuerverzinken

Posted on February 1, 2018 by Galvanizers Association

Read next…

C.F. Møller Architects Greenwich Low Carbon Energy Centre, London

The Greenwich Peninsula is one of London’s major urban development areas, including 15,700 new homes, over 300,000 m² of office space and the conversion of the former Millennium Dome into the indoor arena renamed The O2. Responding to a cross-party…

Read more

Elsterbrücke Bridge, Halle-Osendorf

As a result of flood damage, the existing 1950 3-span Elsterbrücke bridge in Halle-Osendorf needed extensive repair or replacement. After comprehensive surveys, it was concluded that the best economic solution would be to construct a new bridge. This would also…

Read more

Global Rail Construction Crossrail West Gantries, London

Global Rail Construction Limited have recently completed a package of work for Network Rail that included the design, supply and installation of several large galvanized steel signal structures. It includes a 5-track gantry signal structure, a large 2-track cantilever structure…

Read more

Hastings Pier Charity – Hastings Pier

The positive impact that a pier can have on a seaside economy was a key driver in the campaign to restore the Grade II listed substructure of Hastings Pier. Built in 1872, it has been subjected to an aggressive marine…

Read more