The Formwork

Contemporary architects

Werner Sobek – The reason for detail

From a cosmic perspective planet earth is a detail, from an earthly perspec- tive this might apply more to its human inhabitants. From the point of view of the creative human himself it is the small things that he considers to be detail, no matter if they are objects or parts of the same.
A detail is surely neither more important nor less important than the whole. If, nevertheless, we pay so much attention to details, then the reason is that creative, design and technical production complexities meld inseparably in their smallness. In this context, detail is understood to mean design detail and not a detail as aperçu of a creative will seeking to achieve a decorative effect. In design detail forces are combined and transmitted along separate paths, different materials encounter one another, tolerances are buffered, functions networked. Mastering the typically multi-disciplinary problems in a small space is the real problem that detail presents, and whose solution usually requires a skilled ability that subsequently also radiates upon the whole. Or: the greatest difficulty lies is in mastering geometrical smallness. He who masters the small things will master the big things without any difficulty.
A statement by Werner Sobek

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Audi AG trade fair stands
Frankfurt am Maine (Germany), 1999

The design of the Audi AG trade fair stands first deployed at the IAA 1999 in Frankfurt/ Maine, Germany, consists of a richly curved wave made of glass. The wall is 6 m high, and between 100 m and 300 m in length depending on the size of the stand. The 4 mm thick glass plates made of tempered satin safety glass are held in place by a close-meshed rope net, which itself is tensioned in a supporting lattice structure consisting of intersecting stainless steel tubes. A node, which has been reduced to an absolute minimum, serves as a connecting element between the plates of glass and the rope net construction.

Basilea (Germany), 2006

R128: R128 is a fully recyclable zero-energy building that produces no emissions when in use. Boasting a modular design the fully glazed building is assembled by means of quick-fit and bolted connections, which means it is not only easy to build and deconstruct but can also be fully recycled. The exposed supporting structure made of steel is an essential design and partitioning element; in addition, it makes an invaluable contribution to significantly reducing the construction time and com- plete recyclability of the building.

Paris (France), ?

Hermes: Werner Sobek was commissioned by Hermès to design the 2011 holiday
windows display for their New York flagship boutique. The design concepts for the project pay homage to the core qualities of Hermès’ ethos and products by using simple but refined techniques in color, geometry, and materiality. For the window di- splays, three-dimensional geometric tiling “lenses” are used to direct the view into the window toward selected Hermès items on show. The remainder of the window is masked with vibrant color contrasting with the window interior to create a sense of discovery and enhance the depth of space.

Post tower,
Bonn (Grermany), ?

Post Tower: The new build of the head office of the Deutsche Post AG in Bonn is based on a design by the architectural company JAHN in Chicago. The ground plan of the tower measures approx. 85 m in length and 40 m wide; the 41 storey tower consists of two segments offset to one another in the ground plan and reaches a height of approx. 162 m. The roof area is surrounded by an approx. 11 m high glass facade, behind which are the roof garden and penthouse. The horizontal load forces acting on the filigree construction are absorbed by so-called traverse bracing elements – an extremely reduced, but very important detail.

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