Aesthetic engineering

Glass facade for high demands

Go Back

In November 2017, a pumping station was inaugurated on the market square in Innsbruck. It has the task of protecting the population against flooding and is characterised by its attractive appearance. This is dominated by a glass facade, which appears black, grey or blue depending on the incidence of light and was supplied by Glas Marte.

The tranquil city of Innsbruck offers not only a beautiful natural panorama, but also world-class architecture. This includes Zaha Hadid's ski jumping hill, Dominique Perrault's town hall galleries and David Chipperfield's Tyrol department store. The city's emphasis on appealing aesthetics is demonstrated by the recently built flood water pumping station in the market square. It was designed by Karl Heinz Architekten in collaboration with Gerhard Walter from Innsbruck and impresses with its purist elegance. The building became necessary because measurements showed that the rain showers in the city are getting more and more violent. Since much of the inner city area is sealed, the water cannot seep into the ground, but is discharged into the sewer system. If the latter is overloaded, the water lifts the sewer manhole covers and floods streets and cellars.

Aesthetically appealing civil engineering

In order to counteract this, IKB (Innsbrucker Kommunalbetriebe Aktiengesellschaft) decided to build a flood water pumping station on the north-western side of the market square. It has the task of pumping the rainwater into the River Inn if necessary. The engineering structure consists of an above-ground part and an underground part. Under the ground are the pipes that conduct the water into the Inn, while the required electrical system is housed above ground. However, the latter cannot be seen from the outside. Here, the viewer perceives a simple structure in which a staircase is integrated at the side that leads to a platform with an area of approx. 40 m2, from where there is a good view over the entire square.


Glass facade and glass parapet in one

According to Karl Heinz's wishes, the facade of the building was to be as smooth and jointless as possible. For this reason, he planned glass elements with the maximum dimensions of 4670 x 1425 mm. An impressive size, given that the panes were additionally bent in some places. In addition, the glass of the facade transitions directly into the parapet, which is also made almost exclusively of glass. As a result, extremely high demands are placed on the glass elements. According to the architect it was "a task for which only Glas Marte was considered, as it was difficult to find a manufacturer with comparable high-quality products and the know-how that were required for this." And so the manufacturer from Bregenz supplied the laminated safety glass GM LSG LAMIMART® in combination with GM Railing® Plan 2.


Unusual play of colours

It is created by the lamination of glass and foil under high heat and pressure. Several panes of the same or different types and thicknesses of glass are connected together, so that the advantages of different types of glass are combined. This allows, for example, panes with high sound, heat or sun protection to be produced. In addition, the foils used can influence the appearance of the glass. Depending on its colour, the glass pane appears in a different hue. The glass of the Innsbruck pumping station owes its unusual appearance to this effect: depending on the incidence of light, it appears black, grey or blue.


Laminated safety glass with heat strengthened glass

Since the pumping station is located in a public square, it may well happen that its facade gets accidentally or intentionally damaged. Therefore, it is particularly important that the glass is resistant to external influences. It must still fulfil its function as a building closure even in the case of a lateral punctiform exertion of force and must not have sharp break lines. For this reason, the laminated safety glass of the pumping station is made of heat strengthened glass panes. As a result, the facade elements have a high flexural strength, which results in improved edge strength and residual load-bearing capacity. In addition, even high temperature differences do not affect the glass pane. A glass break produces tiny, usually blunt-edged glass crumbs, which significantly reduce the risk of serious injury.


State-of-the-art technology for maximum security

The flood water pumping station was officially opened in November 2017. The cost of its construction was approximately three million euros. Money well spent, considering that the pumping station is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. In this way, it protects the surrounding population from damage in the long term, the repair of which could cost many times as much.