Werk 12 Munich, Germany

Putting the «wow» factor into a commercial building

With Werk 12, MVRDV has created a spectacular addition to the Werksviertel business park in Munich with a building that really has the proverbial «wow» factor. Its simple form, the use of «honest» materials (to quote the judging panel) and the transparent façades have earned the new building the prestigious DAM Prize for Architecture.

Knödelgasse (Dumpling Lane), Kartoffelgleis (Potato Alley) or Zündappbogen: The street names in Munich’s Werksviertel bear witness to the time when the site behind the Munich East train station was home to traditional German companies such as Pfanni, Zündapp and Optimol. Since the beginning of the 2000s, a mixed-use urban district has been under development here: Factory buildings that are characteristic of the townscape have been or are being refurbished and converted into contemporary living and working spaces, while new buildings have been added in a modern architectural style.

With a mixed use of 7000 workplaces, 1100 apartments and spaces offering a wide range of cultural and leisure activities, this location is set to be the future of Munich life. And it is right in the midst of this heterogeneous structural environment that Amsterdam-based architects MVRDV built Werk 12.

With its simple form, economical materials and transparent façades, the five-storey building on the plaza would blend right in if it weren’t for the wide terraces surrounding each floor and the cascade staircases that connect them. The most striking feature of the new building, however, is the onomatopoeic artwork emblazoned in bold letters on the façade’s exterior. Phrases include AAHHH, OH, PUH, or simply WOW.

Extremely intricate post and mullion façade 

There is no doubting that the building has the «wow» factor. The architects wanted to make the steel and glass structure as minimal as possible. It was realised as a VISS façade with a face width of just 50 millimetres, and two different construction depths: The surrounding framework, which is 120 millimetres deep, holds two posts and one transom at a height of three meters, each of which are just 95 millimetres deep. As if it were not difficult enough to combine the different construction depths into one façade element, certain areas required the additional load exerted on the concrete structure by the cascade staircase to be taken into account. 
In these areas, the loads on the steel and glass façade are transferred laterally into the concrete structure via the crossbeam – a static approach that is only possible with steel profiles. The transoms loaded in this way were reinforced with flat steel on the interior, which is fully concealed from the outside. In line with the façade grid, the escape doors to the surrounding terraces – which are required on all levels in order to secure the escape route via the cascade stairs – are almost three metres high. In other words, they are much higher than the DIN specifies. Thanks to the Janisol steel profile system, which has been tested and approved for this height, these were able to be discreetly integrated into the VISS façade, and those on the ground floor were also designed to meet the criteria for resistance class RC2.  
What’s more, the five-storey building’s VISS façade is made even more spectacular when darkness falls thanks to the artwork comprising onomatopoeic expressions emblazoned in bold letters on the exterior.
project details
OTEC GmbH, Munich
facade construction
Werthie Michael Werner GmbH, Lutherstadt Eisleben
Pazdera AG, Coburg;
steel profile systems
© Ossip van Duivenbode

Complete with inspiring views 

The main tenant of Werk 12 is the body + soul fitness studio. In a loft-like atmosphere, the premium fitness centre in Munich offers three floors of workout and wellness facilities, including hypobaric chambers, hightech interval training in the «Beatbox», and a 25-metrelong swimming pool. 

In the pool area, the steel profiles were pretreated to provide the best possible protection against corrosion (corrosiveness category C4; in all other areas C3). The ground floor features several restaurants, while the top floor has become home to Audi’s experts in design, e-commerce and mobility services. The oversized Janisol lift-and-slide doors and folding wall element enable a seamless transition from the inside to the outside, providing inspiring views over Munich and the nearby Alps, whatever the weather. (AMR)