The dynamic solar shading of Kiefer Technic Showroom

This building reacts to the outside environment to benefit its inhabitants.
Kiefer Technic Showroom

The Kiefer Technic Showroom is a hybrid exhibition space and office building in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria that moves according to the general weather conditions. It is a pertinent example of modern interactive architecture with an outer framework of 112 tiles that shift and fold into rows on command.

The façade of the Kiefer Technic building expands and contracts to regulate the amount of sunlight permitted to the interior. This responsive design minimises the necessity of air conditioning by maintaining a constantly moving shield against external heat.

It was designed by Graz-based architecture firm Giselbrecht & Partners and completed in late 2007. Architect Ernst Giselbrecht explained the shift in modern architecture that allowed the outer shell of the building to be treated in its entirety, rather than having to accommodate ranked sections of the structure.

“Not long ago, office buildings had a clear structure and the number of axes was predetermined – e.g. how many for a director or high-ranking counsellor and how many for a mere civil servant.

With the introduction of window strips, these hierarchies were abandoned. Today it is possible that the complete exterior façade is transparent, and this very transparency indicates a modern character. At the same time, individual requirements escalate and need to be reconciled with the desire for comfort,” he said at the time.

The skeletal frame of Kiefer Technic Showroom comprises solid brick faces, bolstered cement ceilings and steel-encased columns. The shifting façade is powered by 56 engines that activate automated shutters and folding panels of perforated aluminium.

As the day progresses and the rays of the sun shift, the building presents a slowly altering frontage. It becomes a dynamic sculpture that controls its own inner climate. The shutters can be operated on human command alternatively.

While the dynamic exterior of Kiefer Technic Showroom is effective in keeping the building’s inner dwelling at a cool temperature, it cannot be heralded as a sustainable solution completely, given the fact that the building’s fleet of engines requires a considerable amount of electricity to operate.

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