Ralph Hammann
DOM Publishers, Berlin, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
8.9 x 11 inches, hardcover, 352 pages, over 500 illustrations
ISBN: 9783869221816
Suggested Retail Price: $99.95

From the Publisher. The bridge between technology and design: When it comes to a successful integration of two disciplines that are usually treated as separate, Munich-based building technology expert Klaus Daniels can look back on several decades of experience. His projects illustrate how architecture and engineering can work hand in hand, based as they are on an approach in which building services are seen neither as a catalyst for an “overall idea of the building” nor as mere aids to the architectural design. The projects presented in this volume have set international standards in the architecture and technology debate.

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Norman Weinstein

This collection of both built and unrealized architectural projects associated with Munich-based technology expert Klaus Daniels offers a provocative survey of the rapidly dissolving boundaries between design and engineering. Although the book opens with an overblown hallelujah chorus of praise in the form of eight prefaces crowning Daniels by eight like-minded colleagues, Daniels is part of a new breed of aesthetically oriented engineers exemplified by Cecil Balmond and Werner Sobek. Talented and worthy of this extensive monograph? Absolutely. As original as these prefaces claim? That is another matter.

The deep worth of this book stems from an intriguing and far from self-serving history of Daniels’s firm, HL Technik, as its engineering focus expanded to accommodate supporting architects in an age of dwindling resources and climate change. Daniels expresses his feelings about the rapidity of change at his engineering firm in his opening essay, “Engineering Design Competence in a Changing World”: “It is astonishing that many professional tasks of our work as an engineering firm today were entirely unknown to use when we established our consultancy in the 1960s.” These include double-skin facade solutions for skyscrapers and natural ventilation systems.

In addition to energy savings over the long haul, Daniels constantly works with architects to develop energy-conservation designs that are beautiful as well as problem-solving. Ten projects are extensively documented in these pages. Especially inspiring was his collaboration with architect Dominique Perrault on the Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, which melds Daniels’s concern for an economical natural ventilation system with Perrault’s plan for a diamond-shaped building facade marked by a metallic textile material looking like gargantuan snowflakes in fractal profusion. Alas, disputes with the building’s client and budget cuts left the building an unfulfilled vision, but the plans in this book reveal just how fertile a richly nuanced engineer-architect meeting of minds this was.

Hope for the future of an aesthetically inspiring integrative fusing of engineering and architecture is supported by the book’s final section honoring innovative educational experiments that mesh the two disciplines. Daniels worked as a technology advisor to a student-led German team from the Technical University at Darmstadt that won first place in the U. S. Department of Energy’s “Solar Decathlon” competition. Far more modest than the Perrault collaboration, graphics reveal a structure just as creative in exemplifying what one planner aptly called “beautility.”

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