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Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
1 of 8

Two monolithic balcony installations, constructed out of prefabricated concrete columns and platforms, perfectly complement the scale and massing of the late nineteenth century apartment block that they abut. Both towers are freestanding as an historic preservation order protects the building's external fabric.

The concrete's etched finish - which is the result of extensive testing with several 1:1 samples, incorporating various aggregates and pigments - references the use of red sandstone in the door and window trims. The objective here was not to copy the building's painted treatment of the material, but rather to articulate its core qualities - its colour, composition and texture - within a concrete template. And as a way of a counterpoint to the scheme's solidity, self-supporting stainless steel railings elegantly enclose each floor plate.

The spindles in each railing section sit within a series of 50mm deep countersunk stainless steel bushings, all of which are precisely aligned - these having been collectively configured as a single unit within the pre-cast concrete mould, welded together with steel rods to eliminate any movement. In addition, during casting, each of the bushings is fitted with a small plastic cylinder to protect its volumetric integrity.

The final component in the railing detail is a circular steel plate surround for each of the spindles - this slots into the bushing and sits flush with the floor.

Internally, the platforms are calibrated with a 2% fall to allow for drainage. 3cm thick sandstone slabs, positioned on footings, provide a safe and durable surface. Throughout the scheme, the modular nature of the architecture is subtly disseminated by a 10mm shadow gap detail.

In essence, the project's tectonic composition represents a seamless integration of making and thought, culminating in two contextually measured structures that are well-honed, well-grounded and well-proportioned.

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graemedrussell, July 21st, 2016
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