PROJECT REPORT: SEBALD Kontore

The Gate to Nuremberg's Old Town

Modern commercial building fits seamlessly into the city's historic image

"It is the gate to the old city centre", says the Architect Gerhard P. Wirth regarding his "Sebald Kontore" project. The commercial building in the heart of Nuremberg contains shops in the lower part, while office spaces are located in the upper floors. Wirth on the formation phase of the building: "The planning and construction of  Sebald Kontore took a total of five years. The building in its present form is actually the second design. A great deal of persistence and stubbornness was called for in order to bring the building owner and the city together while still having architectural freedom. Now however not only the city but also the building owner are in complete support of the project." The first tenants moved into the building in April 2013, the same year the building was completed; the interior space is currently being expanded.

Modern façade meets historical old city centre

The building needed to fit in with the look of Nuremberg's old town district while still marking its territory as a modern structure. "Sebald Kontore" is surrounded by high-end listed buildings and 1960s structures, so the architectural demands were very particular. "The design couldn't be showy – that wouldn't have worked at all," said Wirth. "It needed a subtle, modest charm that would prompt passers-by to pause and reflect." Gerhard P. Wirth declared it his goal to combine sculptural design with functionality. The slanted roof and the façade with its punched windows are made from Swedish dimension stone, meaning every stone that runs around an edge has been cut from a single block – there is no cement used.

"Architecture should have soul", 

declares Gerhard P. Wirth in emphasising his philosophy. The soul of a building is always to be found in the interior and permits insight through the windows. Consequently, Wirth sets high requirements for the window system: "Narrow view widths and the flush-fitted execution of the windows for perfect harmony between the requirements of building physics and maximum freedom of architectural design are the focus. Furthermore, no window sills are attached, but niche coverings at the windows instead". It was particularly with respect to flush-fitting that Kassecker GmbH was presented with a challenge as the responsible fabricator. The technical building supervisor Andreas Pietruschka comments: "So-called 'box windows' were installed which have a special attachment – on the inside, an insulation window, on the outside, an impact pane with a sunblind between them. It was an intriguing task to install the windows flush-fitted with the stone façade while at the same time upholding the required technical values such as isotherm course, aeration and ventilation, and other similar factors. Because the window installation had to take place before the execution of the stone façade, the elements were dimensionally adjusted to the stone edges which were not yet present." A concealed guttering and a glass snow guard rounded off the sophisticated portfolio. Kassecker GmbH also executed the entrance area in the PR façade along with a large monitor window, the fire protection elements, the glass façade, the roof area windows and the recessed balcony area.

Exemplary collaboration and trend-setting products

Andreas Pietruschka explains the advantages of the aluminium constructions used: "Once the high technical requirements with respect to statics and building physics had been formulated here, there was no longer any question of an alternative version in plastic as opposed to the required lightweight metal façade. After good experiences had been had with the GUTMANN system in the above-mentioned reference projects, the decision was made to rely on GUTMANN for this complex and technically difficult building project." A total of 425 m² of the 675 m² façade surface was executed with the GUTMANN F50, S70v+HW and S70+HW systems. "The advance technical detail consultation was good. Ongoing coordination during the building phase contributed to the success of the project", declares Pietruschka about the collaboration. In addition, he praises the excellent and personalised support and the on-schedule deliveries.

For Gerhard P. Wirth, a good partnership atmosphere is a matter of course at his office: "The human aspect of our projects is important to us. We value the fact that the participants can identify with the project". GUTMANN was recommended to him by the Kassecker company and Wirth declares himself completely satisfied with the result: "The GUTMANN systems have solved the high aesthetic requirements with respect to the interaction with the natural stone façade. It was a very good collaboration."

Two success stories

Gerhard P. Wirth founded his architecture firm "GP Wirth Architects" in1988. Working from Nuremberg, the 10-member team plans and implements building projects across Germany. The central focus, however, was and remains the Nuremberg metropolitan region. When he was first starting out, Wirth was primarily known for his activities as a loft architect: "I revitalised many loft areas, certainly in the 250,000 m² range. Back then I was a 'loftie', so to speak (laughs). Now around half of my projects are either private or commercial, while the other half are comprised of residential orders for property developers."

Kassecker GmbH has its headquarters in the city of Waldsassen in the Upper Palatinate region and currently has 455 employees, of which 50 are trainees. Founded in 1902, the long-established company provides a wide spectrum of performances. From classical building and industrial work, through to civil engineering, specialised civil engineering, rail and structural engineering, all the way to steel and metal construction. The references for Kassecker GmbH Stahl und Metallbau include the following: PPP schools in the Hof District: Secondary school, secondary modern school, Naila gymnasium and the Münchberg secondary school, in addition to the secondary modern school and gymnasium in Helmbrecht.