GKD Mediamesh Screen Reduces Solar Input While Showcasing Art For Sustainable University

December 15, 2015

As one of Denmark’s leading architectural offices, Arkitema Architects is responsible for a large number of sophisticated projects, including the KUA 2 extension at the University of Copenhagen, which was completed in 2013. With the installation of a large-format SMD-MEDIAMESH® screen on the front of one of the four characteristic blocks, the University’s aspiration to create a dynamic and open study environment has been newly interpreted. The transparent media façade system supplied by GKD provides an artistic link between the strict urban structures and the multi-faceted educational concept.

With six faculties, over 200 study programs and more than 40,000 students, the University of Copenhagen is among the largest research and education institutes in Scandinavia. Since the 1970s, some of the courses have been held at the “University of Copenhagen on Amager” (KUA) on the island of Amager in the south of Copenhagen, which is where, around twenty years later, the avant-garde Copenhagen district of Ørestad was also established. At the end of the 1990s, the decision was taken to replace the buildings erected on Amager in the 1970s (which were only ever intended to be temporary teaching facilities) with a new campus for the Humanities, Law and Theology buildings. An architecture competition was launched and ultimately won by Arkitema Architects with their concept for a new KUA, which was subsequently implemented in three construction phases. The objective of the concept was to create optimum working conditions for research and teaching activities, taking into account sophisticated sustainability aspects, and align these with the requirements of the users.

The sustainability of the design formed the basis of the plans for Arkitema Architects, as Scandinavia has some of the world’s strictest energy efficiency requirements. By 2025, Copenhagen is seeking to become the world’s first CO2-neutral city and therefore considers itself a forerunner in the field of sustainable building. In 2014, the European Commission named the city of Copenhagen the European Green Capital. With grass roofs, solar heating and photovoltaics, optimum daylight utilization, natural ventilation and use of rainwater for flushing toilets in a section of the building, KUA 2 is a great example of this. The fact that the building is consistently aligned with the requirements of its users underlines the holistic sustainability strategy of the planners.

For example, the glazed façades not only reduce the dominance of the overall structure, but also grant unrestricted views of the campus and the other side of the neighboring conservation area throughout the entire building. Solar protection systems made of GKD Tigris stainless steel mesh also make a valuable contribution to reducing solar input without compromising on light yield or visibility. Arkitema Architects utilized these benefits again one year after completion of the KUA 2 with the installation of a 969 square foot, transparent media façade system made of GKD metallic mesh.

The woven structure of the display on the façade of the outer right-hand block grants both students and lecturers an unobstructed outward view, while maintaining the same high level of daylight. SMD lines are integrated into the mesh with outdoor RGB SMDs at vertical spacing of 3.75 cm and horizontal spacing of 4.25 cm. Alongside its exceptional color reproduction and resolution, this design impresses with its power consumption of just 160 W per 10.8 square feet, which is considerably lower than other systems.

With a keen eye on the overall concept of KUA 2, which focuses on visual lightness, the sophisticated design of the woven media façade also provided the perfect platform for what is currently the highest resolution MEDIAMESH® system available for outdoor applications. The low weight was also a key factor in selecting this particular system. Planning the complete MEDIAMESH® system, including the external electronics for the substructure in place, represented a challenge for the specialists at GKD.

The ultimate solution employed the tried and tested mounting concept with round profiles and eyebolts. To promote its aspiration of open exchange between lecturers, professors, students, residents and passers-by, the University of Copenhagen commissioned a local artist to design the content for the media screen. Photorealistic images depicting nature and the country turn the installation into a kind of emotional bridge between people, culture, nature and technology.